Google’s latest announcement that the company will not replace third-party cookies with identifiers and email addresses should come as no surprise. We have long known that they have been focused on improving their reputation in privacy, and with increasing privacy regulations it will be necessary.
Advertisers must look for new ways to engage valuable customers on a one-to-one basis. Digital targeting and measurement strategies that the industry has grown up around need to be rebuilt for a world where privacy is the number one priority.
This is both a challenge and an opportunity for the industry – to fight for privacy while finding new and innovative ways to provide marketers and consumers with relevant, targeted ad experiences. The industry must decide the best way forward and come together to develop strategic identity solutions. So publishers can maximize the value of their first-party data, help advertisers achieve their business goals and build consumer trust in digital advertising.
A new vision for a new ecosystem
Collaboration between partners within the digital advertising ecosystem is now more important than ever. If advertisers want to increase the effectiveness of their campaigns across the Internet, they need to work with partners who can participate in these conversations without operating a closed ecosystem. Increased collaboration is also essential for quality local publishers to continue to develop creative, engaging content for consumers, which is the foundation for their continued success.
The central principle for navigating this changing landscape is that the digital advertising industry understands where it needs to go in terms of identity, and that it must do so consistently. This involves how the industry should handle identity in the face of the demise of third-party cookies, the increase in regulations and the new ways in which advertising is bought and sold today.
Increasing privacy regulation, such as GDPR in Europe, has been one of the biggest drivers of change in our industry. Advertisers will therefore want to work with companies that comply with data regulations and encourage transparency in the supply chain. When it comes to compliance, it helps to work with a partner who has similar challenges, protocols and internal processes. For example, a bank or telecommunications company will want partners who can demonstrate that their security framework meets their country’s privacy standards, as well as the company’s individual privacy standards.
Cookies have been used for a very long time, but nevertheless we have seen during the last year that we can create fantastic solutions that do not depend on this. But it is not possible to identify a single solution to the challenges and it will not be for some time. A very conscious approach is required to resolve identity from many coordinated angles. Although first-party data goes a long way in achieving this, brands with strong and innovative contextual solutions can deliver market-leading performance and competitive advantage. It is important that brands do not stand still at this time. Testing innovative new solutions means that you are well equipped to handle what comes next.
For publishers, this means looking at how they can use their assets to develop their business models, and package and sell their inventory in a way that best meets the needs of the buyer in our rapidly changing digital advertising landscape.
Developing different ways to generate and acquire authenticated first-party data is going to be a main focus area for publishers. Many are already doing it because they want to expand their subscriber base. This means that if a person uses their email address every time they visit a website, the publicist can use this as a persistent identifier. From here they can start building a profile of the user and his or her interests. By better understanding individual users, the publisher’s inventory becomes more valuable to advertising partners, because they can effectively target specific user profiles.
However, there are other ways in which publicists can use their resources, such as by building up contextual solutions. The ability to build contextual profiles has been greatly improved. Today there is much more accurate contextual information about specific articles and publicists should look at how this can be used. Today, one can even use contextual solutions to match the mood of an object. For example, if you are a brand that sells retro cameras, you can target the context that creates the feeling of nostalgia.
Publicists must also consider advertising on specific devices when looking at this more broadly. If we look at the devices that will support advertising or support advertising, very little is based on cookies anyway. A number of different devices will play a role here, such as smart speakers, Connected TV (CTV) and even wearable technology. These devices will not be dependent on cookies, therefore investment must still be made in exploring these areas and the new user groups they offer.
Ultimately, the biggest danger is standing still and waiting for something to happen around you. Your target audience is still online, so it’s important that you remain visible to them. With the right data protection, privacy controls in place and the right partners, it is still possible to give consumers choice and insight into the value exchange of advertising and content. At the same time, it enables publicists and marketers to achieve the results they require. But then it is crucial that the industry works together to get there.