The promise of owning content to deliver ads fueled by mobile subscriber data was a powerful lure driving Verizon to acquire two of the web’s oldest and best-known media brands AOL and Yahoo .

For years all the signs have been there as consumers around the world installed ad blockers on all manner of devices along with the 'skip ad' function that comes with your smart TV.

Then came GDPR and suddenly the fraud ridden intrusive ad tech landscape became increasingly untenable. 

Ad tech became a global disease.

It seems that US telecom giant has also woken up to what's been staring the industry in the digital face that 'paid media advertising' isn't the Goose that can continue to lay those 'Golden Eggs'.

Digital ad industry execs say regulatory pressures, tech industry privacy moves and internal restrictions on data sharing contributed to Verizon’s decision to unload its media and ad tech properties, including its ad tech stack and identity tech product, ConnectID.

And then came this:

By now you will have probably not only seen this headline, but if you're an IOS user you will also have been a recipient of the update;

"96% of iPhone users have opted out of app tracking since iOS 14.5 launched"

Without a doubt the future for companies who have relied on the lazy machine gun marketing tactics of the intrusive 'paid digital' media space continues to shrink. 

Throw into the mix declines in revenues and reductions in the workforce all accelerated by this pandemic suggest that brands of today and tomorrow need to urgently adopt a radically different mindset if they are to remain front of mind and relevant to a consumer who has been screaming that they have had enough of the digital ad overload for years.

App Tracking Transparency, which launched with iOS 14.5, is Apple's new privacy feature that requires apps to ask permission to track you. Users can also turn off tracking for all apps by default.

As more iPhone owners update to iOS 14.5, we'll begin to better understand the average amount of users who opt-in and opt-out of app tracking. 

These first numbers, however, tell a very clear story - the vast majority of people want their privacy.

So, brands need to be thinking less about push advertising and more about creating media messages and 'storytelling' that people can become involved with and are more likely to share within their peer group and family.

I often get asked if I have a specific audience in mind when producing my content, and the short answer is most definitely - I know exactly who I'm writing for.

My stuff is aimed at the multi-channel retail sector which is where my entire career has been built, and where I have considerable experience - today I want to share my ongoing thoughts and provocations in this ever changing sector, so I utilise blogs and all manner of social platforms to stimulate thought and conversations.

There's a world of content opportunities out there, but organisations are missing a huge slice of it because they still want to use social media as a means to 'advertise and promote' the corporate bible. 

Search up until now has been great, it's something that's connected humans since we've been on the planet.  

Today we can 'search' for something at the click of the mouse, we can do this wherever in the world we are - but we have to know what it is we are searching for.

'Content Discovery' by definition puts you and me in control, we are happy to spend more time on subject matters that we can relate to, and during that time we're also open to other topics as long as the content is in context with where we started our 'discovery' in the first place.

So if you wanted to gain traction and eyeballs by 'relevant' audiences and consumers instead of advertising which carries a 50-75% fraud penalty for every £/$ spent what could you do?

1) Think Media - Not content - entertain and inform via storytelling, but make it feel real - We can all smell an advert dressed up as something else a mile off.

2) Think Stories - Not adverts - With the influx of D2C brands (and their inevitable competitors) playing fast and loose in the digital ad space, more marketing £/$ are needed to compete for the same impressions.

3) Think Authenticity - Not Corporate - Leverage Employee advocacy to unlock authentic stories about your brand, people don't watch or read your brand police polished stuff anyway.