Privacy regulations are coming, and walled gardens are writing the laws.
According to the New York Times, tech giants Google, Facebook and Amazon spent a combined $55m on lobbying last year, more than double their combined spend in 2016.
A year out from GDPR in Europe and closing in on California’s consumer privacy act and the inevitable federal legislation, the advertising trioply is essentially helping to write the laws that are supposed to put them in check.
In a discussion on audience targeting during The Drum’s Programmatic Punch in New York, Spring Lake Equity Partners founding partner Dan MacKeigan said: “You have to look at who will have the most influence on the regulators, and in my mind it’s the big platform companies. They will probably benefit from regulation.”
Gartner analyst and research vice-president Andrew Frank said these giant walled gardens have created an environment where smaller companies are “more cautious and at risk if they use personal data.”
“It’s created higher walls around their gardens,” said Frank, who sees this continuing in the US. “There’s a lot of regulatory momentum and the fact that these companies are likely to be able to influence the direction of that momentum suggests that they’re likely to continue to dominate the rule-making environment.”