Advertisers and publishers must work together to restore consumer trust
Reduced addressability means a new way of buying and selling media is needed; one that puts consumer privacy at the forefront, while still driving revenue for advertisers and publishers.
In recent years, the activities of digital advertisers have come under the spotlight of regulators and lawmakers across the globe. In response to heightened concerns around data privacy, many of the most popular methods of targeting and tracking consumers online have fallen out of favour. We’ve already seen third-party cookies blocked in Firefox and Safari, Apple has overhauled its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) and Google continues to develop its Privacy Sandbox proposals for Chrome.
What’s more, the ‘privacy-first’ agenda is showing no signs of slowing. Only last month, The Federal Trade Commission announced it is exploring rules to crack down on “harmful commercial surveillance” and “lax data security”.
These new restrictions for advertisers are seemingly in sync with the mood of consumers: recent research revealed that nearly nine-in-ten consumers are already more likely to spend money with a brand that makes a commitment to protecting their personal data versus one that doesn’t.
More consumers than ever are choosing to opt out of tracking and are rejecting all cookies. When this happens programmatic advertising breaks and you won’t be able to reach people.
So, where does digital advertising go from here?
The day of the publisher
Reduced addressability means a new way of buying and selling media is needed; one that puts consumer privacy at the forefront, while still driving revenue for advertisers and publishers. This can be achieved by shifting to first-party, non-personally identifiable, consented data. Crucially, it is publishers who often hold the keys to this valuable data.
Publishers have a wealth of first-party data and contextual insights about their audiences. It has become vital for publishers to recognise and leverage the increased value of their first-party data and educate advertisers on what’s both possible and privacy-compliant. The trusted relationships between publishers and their audiences places publishers in a central position to provide advertisers with audience data and insights, without compromising privacy.
For advertisers looking to understand their audience, publishers know the interests of their audiences, the behaviours they exhibit, how long they spend on their sites, how many times they visit those sites, and how user browsing habits are changing. They are also able to build deeper profiles on their users via subscriptions or event registrations, and can organise their individual users into anonymised ‘cohorts’ for advertisers to target.
Let’s be direct
A more direct relationship between the buy-and sell-side should be welcomed. A 2020 ISBA Programmatic Supply Chain Study revealed that, on average, for 15 advertisers to buy media across 12 publishers, sensitive user information is passed through 300 different ad tech supply chains.
If advertisers want to rebuild trust with consumers via responsible marketing and safeguard themselves from the impact of privacy regulation, the key is to work more collaboratively with publishers, reducing the number of parties involved and lessening the opportunity for the data leakage that is eroding trust.
Relevance is key
Advertisers, of course, have their own first-party data too. First-party data owned by brands can be combined with the deeper insights and cohorts that publishers have available. Using the combination of these data points, in a fully privacy-compliant way, advertisers can serve the ads that people are actually interested in seeing.
Advertising is still about reaching relevant audiences at scale on the right channels. With increased privacy concerns, addressability tactics must shift away from reliance on third-party trackers to an increased focus on publishers’ first-party data and publisher cohorts, where groups of people with similar characteristics and behaviours can be targeted without identifying them individually.
Marketing strategies built from consented first-party publisher data will go a long way toward building a more responsible web and restoring consumer trust in the digital marketing industry. Now is the time for advertisers, publishers and ad tech providers to take the reins to work together and make consumer trust an industry priority.
Katie Millington is head of publisher sales for North America at Permutive.