You’re worth £15 to Facebook
One of the headlines in recent weeks that made waves in the digital world was the discovery that the Google maps app had been secretly tracking the location of users even if individuals had turned the feature off on their phone. It’s really just another example in a long list of cases where the global tech giants have overstepped the mark on user privacy. It shouldn’t be a surprise though. Most of these firms trade in user data, it is their central path to revenue through advertising and inevitability they will be constantly looking for new ways to harvest it.
For instance, on average each user is worth around £15 per year to Facebook in advertising revenue. And if you wanted to pay for an ad-free version of Facebook you’d probably be looking at about £10 per month. But only 17% of UK users surveyed said that they would be willing to pay for access to Facebook. So there is no indication that the ad-funded model is going to change any time soon.
What we’re seeing at the moment is increasing tension between technology firms trying to monetise their ‘free’ products and services on one side, and the desire in society for greater control over personal data on the other. The introduction of GDPR in May was a big step in bringing legislation on data usage up to date. While it has forced various publishers to adapt their services, it remains to be seen whether this will have a meaningful effect on how individuals gain better control over their data privacy.
Although the number of Facebook users remains high, Zuckerberg has taken the recent issues to heart and has made regaining trust a priority. They are addressing fake news, data misuse, fake profiles and various other harmful side effects of the vast popularity of the social network. Only time will tell whether the platform itself changes for the better.
The year ahead could be the most important so far for the tech giants, in particular, Google and Facebook. If they don’t adapt quickly enough to address concerns over privacy, as well as fake news and brand safety, they run the risk of governments introducing regulation to bring them in line. However, the indication is that the past two years have indeed been a wakeup call, so the upshot will be that the platforms will become a safer place for brands and users.
If you’d like to know more, contact Tristan Moakes on firstname.lastname@example.org