Data Privacy in Advertising: What a User Should Be Aware of?

Data Privacy in advertising: What a user should be aware of?

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Unlike the ’80s where Oil used to be a billion-dollar industry, In the 20th Century, Data has outranked any other industry in terms of revenue. Answering the basic question of who, what, when, where, and how of Data has led to the development of new applications, new creative templates, new audience sets, new marketing strategies, new collaborations with vendors, refining the current data sets.

Major players like Google, Facebook, third party vendors such as BlueKai, Lotame thrive on evolving themselves by granularly categorizing data along various touchpoints. Every publisher, agency, third party vendor speaks about data and categorizes it according to the client’s needs, but what does this DATA actually consist of?

In the age of digital advertising, Data is a mixture of Email IDs, device Id, cookies, channel source & identifying online behavior with UTM parameters, social media IDs, mobile application IDs, location information of an individual user. These various touchpoints are later analyzed and segregated into different buckets which for advertisers to become audience sets. 

Every user should ask himself:

i)Consent: Being a user, have I agreed to share the said data information, and did marketers take consent to gather this information?

According to a Forbes article, Google and FB had faced multiple data lawsuits facing allegations of a data breach and exploiting data leaks for professional benefits. 


  • The data breach of 50 million people Social media profiles of Facebook.
  • Google + social networking site exposed user data in March’2018.

Cambridge Analytica exploited millions of Social media users which led to creating personalized campaign strategies. 

Personalization: Every advertiser wants to save media spend by reducing impression wastage and this is possible with the help of personalization which is to show ads to only those who are in need or who have searched for the product i.e. basically understanding user’s psychology and design ads predicting their next move. This can happen with the help of cookies to determine the user’s browser behavior. 

Safari and Firefox browsers have stopped using cookie technology and Chrome is in the pipeline to stop using the same by 2021, advertisers will have to come up with strategies to use first-party data, device IDs, location ID’s, and behavior pattern based on UTM source from Google analytics. 

Hypothetically speaking, if the user has decided not to give access to the said data information, how will personalization work? Something to think about.

ii)Access: Every mobile application newly installed on android devices asks permission to have access to:

  • Files, Cameras, and storage, if denied the application wouldn’t install. 
  • Make calls via the applications.
  • Access to the contact list 


  • Gaming applications like Asphalt 8 ask’s permission to access to Files, Camera, and storage. Storage access to understand how much space to occupy, but what is the purpose of accessing files and camera?
  • Rapido application asks permission to access the contact list, make calls via their application, files, and storage, why should a user give permission to access contact list?
  • Camera: It has become a standard process for applications to have access to users Cameras. For an application like Zoom or Google hangout yes, it is viable as they serve the purpose of video conferencing. But non-video conferencing applications or unless a user has to upload ID or take a quick snapshot to support an Identification document. What is the necessity of accessing users’ cameras?
  • Remote Access: In the current digital world where work is done in a fraction of seconds, people tend to give remote access to any and almost every vendor to make their life easier. But are these authentic. In recent times, came the case of KYC verification in India, where a user’s banking credentials were stolen. What checkpoints as a user, should he/she must have considered? 

The question should be asked is, it really mandatory for applications to copy what other applications are doing. Shouldn’t these applications customize their privacy options to what they are selling?

iii)Webpages: Website owners are declaring information on what data they will be gathering and how they will be using it. Please refer to the screenshot 

Shouldn’t they give the option of “Deny” as well? And in a few cases, it is mandated that if a user has to read the content of the webpage they have to Click “allow/Accept” by default.

Why is this mandated across web pages?


Data collection and optimization can be a complicated and very difficult task but data scientists have found ways to crack it. Shouldn’t the users be also vigilant regarding what data is being utilized and as a user he should question himself am I giving consent blindly or did I do any research on it before accepting or giving permission.

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