Introducing Fairness in Advertising
In advertising, relevance means much more than quality content. An ad made by the best designer and copywriter in the world will score zero, if it doesn’t find an audience. On the other hand, an ad with a decent design and copy targeted to the perfect audience will enjoy a healthy response score.
The level of relevance modern advertising technologies can offer is not too high, but the question is whether Mass can make it any better. We continue to receive questions with highly dubious undertones that require some attention:
- Doesn’t paying consumers spoil the quality of the audience?
- You say you will survey consumers to clarify the information needed by advertisers? Isn’t that where you started at, shouldn’t you protect users’ privacy instead?
- Why do you think consumers’ answers won’t be biased and misleading?
To answer these questions, let’s begin by describing some interconnections of these important issues:
- Consumer privacy is being compromised by advertisers.
- Consumer attitude to advertisers’ intrusion depends on many factors.
- The level of intrusion as it is felt by a consumer differs from the actual state of affairs.
- The relevance of ads is the factor that makes consumers’ life better.
- A degree of mutuality in consumer-publisher relations is possible.
- The role of a monetary compensation for consumers is yet unclear.
- Consumers’ acceptance of fairness of the value exchange is the key.
- Providing personal data by consumers themselves affects many value parameters in the system.
- Availability of control for consumer & advertisers relations is very important.
- A technological type of control works better than a legal type.
Consumers perform a kind of a social exchange deal when providing information to marketers. People unconsciously compare potential pluses marketers might provide against the psychological inconvenience and direct money cost (if involved) of a given privacy intrusion act.
The main factors that increase the value of a data provision deal are:
- Reduced risks associated with the deal, for instance, with the help of a law.
- Financial rewards in various forms such as discounts.
- Increased convenience, for instance, time saved.
Mass technologically targets the main junction point of the described social exchange, the one between a website visitor and the website itself. This piece of technology is called Mass Signed Tags.
In this exchange relationship, a website may offer a default “reward”—free content for a consumer—and also an individual “reward” that is being defined based on the list of Mass Signed Tags owned by both consumer and website. This individual reward can be literally anything because Mass has the payment capability; something can be sold at a discount, for example.
In return for the rewards from a website, the consumer observes ads and allows performing the work on the data that helps the further improvement of targeting for later advertising. It is important to note that Mass includes the unusual component of mutuality here. The Mass browser has the conversational UI/UX options that make it possible to conduct a “slow dialogue”: a user may be prompted with short surveys or single questions. This may be based on watched ads, on recent browsing history, on previous answers, etc.
Of course, consumers are only willing to accept our targeting clarification efforts if they feel they receive at least as much as they give. This feeling is very hard to “quantify”, especially amid concerns around the privacy issues. To make consumers feel comfortable, and therefore willing to cooperate, we not only need to fully inform them of the ad-targeting practices but also to make them able to customize any parameter involved. Of course, there’s certain limit of complexity after which the friendliness of the user interface will be questionable but we have to follow the strict principle that absolutely everything is under a user’s control.
However, we have to anticipate the result of the fact that today most consumers are not fully aware of how and what data is collected, therefore this new conception of transparency might temporarily lead to a negative effect. Many people probably do not realize how high the actual intrusiveness into their lives is by data-collection scripts. On the other hand, however, this is a positive factor for Mass because this eye-opening effect may serve as a great marketing case and impetus for change.
The above facts are to be used by Mass to create a responsible attitude to the new practice of being paid and asked for targeting clarifications. Mass has a real foundation by which to suggest changing the minds of average web users. Thus, the problem of data supply abuse with an intention to gain more money from Mass is not going to become a problem on the first stage of adoption.
In each truly honest commercial trade, people assess the fairness of the deal in terms of mutual outcomes. Advertising is to become a truly honest commercial act via Mass and fairness is to become the main fuel for the Mass-enabled advertising market.
Increased Benefits by Increasing Relevance
The most successful way to justify a questionable deal is to exaggerate the positive outcome to the buyer. That’s what advertisers do for a living, that’s what the advertising industry claims it does through the practice of targeting. They say it makes advertisements more interesting and more useful. There is only partial scientific support for this claim.
The statistically proven fact reads in a more narrow sense: fewer ads and more targeted ads are better than more ads with less targeting. So, the main advantage of targeting has to be some reducing of ad pressure. It is not so in the incumbent advertising world. It is so; however, in the Mass-enabled world.
Mass is also going to help its adoption by utilizing the interesting and paradoxical fact that more informative ads appear to be less intrusive. In reality, though, more informative ads are actually more interfering with the consumer data. If calculated accurately, the amount of data required to make ads more informative and well-targeted is larger to the amount of data needed for a less informative and generally more emotional ad.
To improve consumers’ acceptance of the targeting concept, Mass will involve them in the process by vividly informing customers what data provided by them in the past was able to make the presented advertisement more interesting since consumers will be able to mark ads as relevant (or not) directly.
Mutual Benefit: Fairness in Advertising
Although the previously discussed factors to improve balance in the system are important, the real value of Mass is in changing the way people see and comprehend what websites they visit have to offer. By implementing surfer-website payments, Mass can totally change the way people perceive the website’s content. Attitude to one important detail may change the opinion about the rest of content and functionality. Mass-equipped webmasters can offer all sort of direct deals to their visitors. Good sites with good deals will get good feedback.
It is important to note here that free content cannot be considered a benefit— as having value at our social exchange. Not any longer. After many years of consuming free content, consumers have developed a mentality that it is a norm. Therefore, the issue of mutuality is not a central one in the current advertising industry discourse.
Re-inventing the need to pay back a favor to a website is very important. Mass Coin is a great tool to make people feel they owe something to the website. As this generally healthier attitude develops over time, payment for quality content may become more of a norm too.
Openly calling for fairness based on mutually agreed and understood terms will increase consumers’ acceptance of data-tracking efforts by websites and reduce the perceived level of undesired interference in consumers of website content.
Informing customers about the benefits of advertising relevance is great but it should be done separately; otherwise, the appeal of the idea of co-beneficial mutuality will look weaker.
Mechanisms of Control
Consumers’ assessment of the fairness of procedures depends on the norms of openness and honesty in a given cultural layer or society. Consumers tend to easier accept some specific norms if such norms are stated explicitly in a ledger of rules. Software mechanisms, organizations, and their officers must be vested in their actions towards consumers. That is essential to the overall success of the ecosystem. No laws equals no business.
Providing consumers with a high level of control by allowing them to view and customize every aspect of data-accumulation increases adoption.
Allowing consumers to participate in the control procedures makes them even better and provides an important presence of decentralized, external control missing from the competition. Not only knowing, but understanding, and even taking part in the process of collection of information to be used in ad-targeting is what makes Mass unique for a consumer. Acting according to these new, higher standards of procedural fairness increases the perceived trustworthiness of the project. A willingness to disclose information and share ideas is what Mass is hoping to engineer.