Collaboration and experimentation are key to building a privacy-focused online advertising ecosystem

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The future of the Internet depends above all on confidentiality. And making it work for everyone – users, advertisers and publishers – will take experimentation and collaboration.

This emerged as the key theme of the webinar “How Advertisers and Publishers Can Thrive in a Login-Free Future”, hosted by The Drum and Nano Interactive. The session brought together Tina Lakhani, adtech manager, IAB UK; El Kanagavel, general manager of performance technology, Dentsu; and Carl White, CEO and co-founder of Nano Interactive. They discussed the forces behind Google’s decision to downgrade the third-party cookie in its Chrome browser, the alternative approaches that are emerging, and the challenges that the online advertising industry faces in providing the environment that users desire and advertisers.

The main takeaways from the event were:

  • The future will be about assembling some or all of the remaining and emerging targeting technologies – first-party cookies, anonymized proprietary identifiers, cohorts, and contextual targeting – to meet the needs of different brands, contexts and audience types.

  • The disappearance of the third-party cookie is an opportunity to build something better.

  • Resolving the measurement issues is crucial and will only happen if the industry works together.

  • Brands and publishers need to adopt a “test and learn” mindset to find what works for them.

Three-way split

Lakhani of the IAB described the future internet as being divided into three parts, each requiring a different approach to targeting.

“There will be environments where you have first-party data, where your audience will be completely identifiable and completely addressable in the same way as with cookies. And all the capabilities we’ve had with cookies will continue in those environments, ”she said.

“So there will be just the opposite; environments where the consumer is completely anonymous. In these cases, you will need to use solutions like contextual targeting. And then there will be intermediate areas where there will be some level of transparency on the consumer, but maybe more at the group level, and in those cases we can look at solutions like cohorts. So, at the end of the day, advertisers need to look at a portfolio of solutions.

Lakhani also pointed out that for a time, audiences that were not addressable were seen as worthless. The rise of sophisticated contextual targeting, she said, overturns that idea.

White discussed this in more detail.

“We’re looking at it from a live data perspective versus historical data. Getting scalability and addressability, when you don’t identify any individual user in any way, becomes a matter of how quickly you can identify the sentiment or tone of the online environment the person is in ” , did he declare.

“Advances in machine learning and AI are opening up a whole new area there. Then we want as much live information as possible, like what someone has been looking for, so that we understand what mood they’re likely to be in and how they feel against that particular topic category. And once you are able to do that, addressability becomes possible.

Rebuild better

The three panelists pointed out that although the third-party cookie has been the cornerstone of online advertising for 27 years, it has never been a perfect solution. Kanagavel of Dentsu noted that advertisers see the current situation as an opportunity to rethink their approach.

“There is a general recognition that there has been an excessive focus on very short-term KPIs, due to the perceived accuracy of the cookie-based metric,” he said. “Now it’s possible to re-evaluate what we’re trying to generate from the different media channels and what the right KPIs are. The solutions that emerge are really effective, and there is a way forward from a measurement standpoint, even if it requires a lot of collaboration within the company. “

Let’s work together

All three agreed that collaboration will be vital across the industry, as well as individual businesses.

Kanagavel summed it up: “Adopting a culture of testing and learning is a big change, and it is sometimes difficult for organizations to do. The key is to break down silos, to work with legal teams, marketing teams, client teams, technology teams in your organization, and then with external partners, where you need them, for data sharing. Being able to do all of this correctly is really difficult. But brands or publishers that do it well will have a huge competitive advantage at their disposal. “

To watch the webinar “How advertisers and publishers can thrive in a future without a login”, Click on here. And to learn more about issues with the privacy-centric Internet, The Drum / Nano Interactive report “No Trace: The Future of Login-Free Online Advertising” can be downloaded here.


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