Privacy is the biggest challenge facing the contemporary digital media industry, as the public is increasingly uncomfortable with the extent of online information that advertisers can access, prompting governments to act.

The global movement has spurred abbreviations such as CPRA or GDPR that are now etched indelibly into the marketing landscape, with the internet’s largest platforms subsequently bringing changes that have upended previous digital orthodoxy.

Google Privacy Sandbox’s efforts – to find a “replacement” for the ubiquitous ad targeting tool in Google Chrome – have come under heavy criticism. However, even Google’s fiercest critics will concede that Apple’s approach to ushering in a more privacy-centric era has been far more traumatic.

In fact, those who form Apple’s privacy policies have reportedly been called “political opportunists” with a mission to “cripple the advertising industry…” by IAB CEO David Cohen, this week at the trade organization’s flagship annual gathering.

Although not all fully agree with such confrontational language.

In the latest installment of our Confessions series, in which we trade anonymity for candor, a leading media executive shares his thoughts on these burning issues.

This conversation has been edited and condensed for clarity.

What do people in the industry think of Apple?

Some publicly refer to Apple as the enemy within, but I think the challenge is there, and a lot of people say this: “As an Apple user, I love what they do…”

I mean, they’ve been hands down the best at building trust with their user base when it comes to taking data privacy seriously. The irony is that if other parts of the industry had taken privacy more seriously over the years, we wouldn’t be in this mess.

So calling them enemies might be a step too far, but I think everyone would love to have their thoughts and involvement, but I remain skeptical if that happens or not.

A lot of people talk about platforms like the de facto global regulators given how big they are, what do you think?

Trying to deliver a single data protection and identity solution that works in the United States, and ideally around the world, is not an easy task, it will take a lot of careful thought.

It’s hard to keep up, because every time you turn around, there’s another state or country passing legislation, and none really matches.

The question the industry is trying to answer is how to strike a balance between something broad enough and specific enough that can also anticipate what might happen in the future.

There’s a lot of talk about how Apple could challenge those currently running the industry, what do you think?

There’s a definite feeling that the sauce is over for the Facebook and Google duopoly, I can tell you that. But, you know, these are big companies and they’re not going to disappear overnight, you’d be a fool to believe that.

Although I would say their ability to hire anyone on a whim is probably over. Right now there’s a lot of talk about how things like Microsoft’s investment in things like ChatGPT can be a real threat to the search industry.

Then, with things like TikTok threatening YouTube and taking the social media side more, I think you’re going to start to see the duopoly take a long look at their business models in the years to come.

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