I follow news and commentary from the ad technology business because it provides a window into emerging data practices affecting consumer privacy. Consider this article by Eric Picard, in which he writes about the coming Fourth Wave of ad technology:
This new wave of innovation we’re entering is really about taking advantage of the changes that have now propagated across the industry. For the first time you can build an ad tech company without having to create every component in the ‘stack’ yourself. Startups can make use of all the other systems out there, access them via APIs, truly execute in the cloud, and build a real company without massive infrastructure costs. That’s an amazing thing to participate in, and it wasn’t feasible even 3 years ago.
This sort of innovation depends on the liquidity of data. To achieve their highest and best use, behavioral, demographic, location and all other kinds of data need to move freely through the technology stack and among the companies collecting, enhancing and brokering that data. Inevitably, as more parties touch greater amounts of consumer data, there is greater risk that data will be used in ways consumers don’t expect.
The Fourth Wave underscores the importance of simple standards like Do Not Track, to ensure that people can control their own data destiny in an increasingly fluid data marketplace.