The online advertising world is changing. We would like to explain some of the changes and how they may affect you as an advertiser – and how we at Bachtrack are unaffected by the most important problems.

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 A series of huge news stories about data privacy – many of them surrounding Facebook’s role in Donald Trump’s election in 2017 – have led to widespread concern that people’s data is being tracked in harmful ways that they don’t understand. The problems weren’t unexpected: as early as 2011, the European Union’s ePrivacy Directive (usually called the “cookie directive”) attempted to force website operators to give users control over how they were tracked. This and the subsequent GDPR resulted in a rash of “Please consent to cookies” boxes on websites, which have been of limited usefulness: many advertising platforms make it as difficult as they can for users to do anything other than give full consent.

Those concerns have led browser makers like Google (Chrome/Android), Apple (Safari) and Mozilla (Firefox) to take action by gradually banning “third party cookies”, pieces of data storage that are widely used by advertising platforms to track usage across multiple websites. Additionally, in iOS 14.5, the latest release of the iPhone operating system, Apple now blocks the use of the phone’s identifier that enables a user to be tracked across multiple apps unless the user has given explicit consent.

All this is great for users, but problematic for the vast majority of the online advertising industry, which relies on real time bidding for advertising space whereby the choice of which ads should be shown to which users at any given time is made by AI algorithms. These are trying to optimise click rates and they rely on gathering as much data as they can about user behaviour. There’s debate over how effective the algorithms are in the first place, but in any case, the changes have definitely caused consternation: if you google “prepare for a cookieless future”, you’ll see dozens of articles suggesting various approaches that the industry might take. Facebook Business Manager screens are currently replete with complex messages about the impact of iOS 14.5: in particular, they talk about their ability to accurately optimise Facebook campaigns whose goal is “conversions”, for example when your systems tell Facebook about events such as someone buying tickets. We occasionally run campaigns for clients on our social media channels (most notably Facebook): while we will continue to do so, our flexibility in reporting the results to you may be reduced.

However, listings and banner ads on Bachtrack are unaffected. We don’t involve you in real-time bidding and we don’t track what users do anywhere other than on our own website. We use our own ad servers, we don’t use third party cookies to show ads and we don’t use Apple’s advertising identifier. So you can be confident that you can advertise on Bachtrack without any adverse effect from these changes.