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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

With the cookie crumbling, the new recipe for data-driven success features consumer trust

October 7, 2019 | By Amit Elisha, Vice President of Product–Outbrain @outbrain

The digital advertising industry is changing. Third party cookies are being rendered obsolete by recent browser updates including Safari’s ITP 2.2/2.3 and Firefox’s v69. Users are also becoming wary of how vulnerable their personal information is to misuse and mishandling following the Cambridge Analytica Scandal and Equifax Data Breach – among others.

In the face of this shift, the industry needs to behave responsibility and be cautious, so that “data” is not called out as the underlying issue that needs to be solved. Data is not inherently good or bad. And when data is used responsibility, it empowers digital media and advertising. Data can a user to discover a compelling article or product that they may have never found on their own. It also gives tools to advertisers to be strategic about who, when, and where their messages reach valued consumers. And data allows the world’s leading publishers to focus on producing quality content that consumers depend on.

As an industry, we are scrambling to find tactical solutions to each new browser update or legal regulation that comes out. Despite the need to address these emerging issues, we must keep our eye on the big issues. And the proper use of data is one we must focus on.

Consumer privacy comes first

Consumers have a right to privacy. They also have a right to know how their data is used and shared and they have a right to determine if they are comfortable with their data being used for advertising. The industry needs to come together to align on governing principles that, at the core, have fundamental protections in place for user’s data across the entire ecosystem.

There needs to be a sincere consideration for the user’s right to privacy and fundamental protections in place for their data across the entire ecosystem. Consumers need to feel safe and protected online. And their information is not being misused or mistreated. Additionally, we need to be mindful with the perception of “creepy ads” in order to build the level of trust like that of users sharing fingerprints and face recognition with phone manufacturers.

Education is key

The industry needs to better inform users about how their data is being used and provide the option to opt-out. At the same time, it is critical to teach users about the importance of advertising and how it fuels the free content that they consume on a daily basis.

Moreover, we need to educate users on why allowing sharing data with responsible parties can help them have a much better experience and receive more personalized ads. With more and more direct-to-consumer brands, consumers mostly learn about them and their products through advertising. These companies are taking on giant competitors and need to be very efficient with their advertising. To do so, they focus on providing a unique and added value to consumers, particularly early adopters. The most effective way to reach those people is by using data and customer profiles.

We also need to be open about how data driven advertising supports journalism while making a true and honest best effort to provide value to marketers, publishers, and users.

Let’s build a healthy economy

In order to move forward, we need to commit to building a healthy digital economy and evolve compliance in order to restore trust among consumers. We need to look at ways to ease concerns among users, providing more transparency across the web and making it easier for users to exercise their right to privacy. We need to educate users on the value of their data and the ways that it is being used to provide a healthy digital economy that they can benefit from.  The bottom line is a cookie-less world means one big thing for advertisers: We need to gain back the user’s trust in order to succeed as an industry.

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