Privacy online, the age of the customer and, of course, social media loomed large at the first half of ad:tech London yesterday.

A lot has already been said about the power that the customer has gained from the internet. The easy access to reviews and price comparison sites has shifted the balance. Nate Elliott of Forrester Research argued that previously companies relied too heavily on being able to lock the consumer into its product but now, the only competitive advantage that exists is ultimately the ability to serve the customer the best. He called to not merely be customer-centric but customer-obsessed: to focus strategy, energy and budget on processes that enhance knowledge of engagement with customers and prioritises these over maintaining consumer boundaries.

The most obvious point of contact with the consumer is social media and Luca Benini of Buddy Media asserted that since the introduction of social media, a brand's most valuable customer is its loudest. He stated that 90% of all purchases have a social influence and that a site receives on average 3.2 unique visitors per social media "share". However, Nick Jones of COI sounded a cautious note to be realistic about the resources available for managing social media and communicate any constraints to the consumer: if you can't moderate blog comments 24 hours a day, say so.

For all the flare-ups about Facebook's and Google's cavalier attitudes to people's personal data, Dr Ian Brown of the Oxford Internet Institute demonstrated that people have grown less concerned about their online privacy over the past five years. This is perhaps a natural reaction as the more people have used the internet, the more they trust it. However, people's concerns over privacy are highly contextual - the company that takes pains to highlight just how secure they are, may just make its online visitors more worried; while people on an informal, amateur site will happily disclose personal information without worrying about its usage.

The full report is available to subscribers on here and the second half of ad:tech continues today, promising more on mobile marketing, e-retail and entertainment.