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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Say goodbye to the cookie and hello to contextual

February 24, 2020 | By Alynn Beyder, Senior Product Marketing Manager – IAS @integralads

Understanding consumers’ wants and needs is critical for advertising success. These days, having technology that enables these insights is not just nice to have – it is a must have. However, with January’s release of the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which favors consumer privacy rights and increases limitations on advertising targeting parameters, the ability to predict and target those “wants and needs” based on personal information is becoming increasingly difficult.

As a result, advertisers will undoubtedly need to adjust their strategy to accommodate new and emerging regulations. In January, for example, Google announced its plan to phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome within the next two years. Rather than attempting to reach their target audience based on data collected from cookies, advertisers will need to delve deeper to define consumer preferences and behaviors. Pivoting media buying strategies toward contextual alignment and partnering closer with content creators will be paramount to reach consumers in the new data privacy regulated world.

At Integral Ad Science (IAS), we conduct an annual survey with agencies, advertisers, ad tech vendors, and publishers to get a sense of the common themes and challenges facing industry leaders in the upcoming year. In our 2020 Industry Pulse Report, data privacy legislation was understandably a point of concern for all parties. In fact, 82% of respondents listed contextual targeting as a key industry trend in the upcoming year.

Publishers have the advantage

This is where publishers are able to regain control. With new standards like the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and CCPA already imposed (and Chrome’s looming 2022 deadline) a decreased ability to rely on cookies will undoubtedly take center stage globally. When it comes to reaching desired audiences, the industry shift toward an increased reliance on contextual and semantic capabilities will put publishers back on top. Not only do we foresee great power in first-party audience data and stronger than ever buyer-seller relationships, but there is also a greater opportunity for publishers to market the true value of their content.

The first step is for publishers to ask themselves: Am I monetizing all of my inventory, and how can I stand out from the crowd? Taking the time to understand their unique inventory landscape will help publishers smartly create packages with delivery guarantees that their advertisers actually want to buy. 

The media buy

According to one 2020 Industry Pulse Report publisher participant, “Data will be the single most important factor. People want to reach specific audiences and, as a publisher, we need to rely on our first party data that has been cleared from a GDPR and CCPA perspective to offer contextual and behavioral targeting for media specific buys.”

However, curating and selling these custom inventory packages by using first-party data is not as simple as it may sound. Publishers need to partner with an unbiased third-party to validate and optimize these custom packages, especially when trying to win back advertiser trust. Now more than ever, advertisers are relying on verification partners to ensure that their ads are placed in brand safe and suitable environments. When asked about the implications of data privacy regulations, a manager at a global media agency noted, “…Ensuring our media is presented in the way the brand intends is now more important than ever.”

And consumers agree: according to the IAS Ripple Effect study, consumers are 30% more likely to remember an ad found in a suitable environment. Publishers leveraging a third-party verification partner who both sits in the epicenter of the ecosystem and provides patented technology to analyze all page content will be one step ahead of the competition. 

The increasing impact of data privacy legislation means predicting and targeting consumer “wants and needs” will become increasingly difficult. Advertisers looking to reach the right consumers in the right context will need to lean heavier on publishers offering contextual and semantic solutions. Content is still king. So, publishers should continue to focus their efforts on creating quality content and then partnering with an established third-party to help intelligently package and promote it. 

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