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InContext / An inside look at the business of digital content

Why privacy fuels possibilities for publishers

March 9, 2022 | By Elizabeth Brennan, Head of Advertising Strategy – Permutive@permutive

The time is ripe for publishers and advertisers to embrace privacy as an opportunity to fuel new possibilities.

As consumers, we value our privacy and want to control what, where, and with whom we share our personal information. With rising concerns and a lack of trust in brands, consumers are now taking various measures to take back control. Research shows that 63% of North Americans would rather purchase from organizations that protect their privacy.

Regulators have a sharper focus on privacy in advertising too. The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) issued a release stating: “A healthy market is one built on data protection by design, enabling privacy-respectful innovations focused on the individual’s interests, rights and freedoms. Meaningful choices benefit individuals and underpin effective competition between businesses. Proposals looking to replace the use of cookies and similar technologies need to ensure they raise the standards of data protection and privacy, and not dilute them.”

Advertising now requires a clearer, transparent, and fairer ecosystem that will benefit advertisers, publishers, and consumers.

Privacy is no longer a nice-to-have

News UK is one of many media owners keeping an eye on privacy changes ahead. Bedir Aydemir, Head of Audience & Data, said: “I’m keen to start to see some real clarity with regards to what’s required for ICO and how the GDPR is interpreted. I think what we’ve been doing up to now is sticking plasters. We’re trying to make what’s happened in the past possible in the future, and that’s not going to be allowed: the ICO made clear.”

In an FT article, it was reported that Meta was suffering the impact of Apple’s privacy policies that “make it harder to track users and target advertising.” The data that was once available to deliver personalized advertising on the web is disappearing. The mobile ecosystem is also disrupted, only 21% of users worldwide have opted into ATT, which requires opt-in consent from users to track them across apps. 

The changes we’re seeing in advertising is about more than third-party cookies, it’s about data privacy. Aydemir added that we would see “some real-world changes with regards to how data is parsed into the open market, how it’s valued, how it’s activated” and that publishers will be at the forefront because they have consent data, identity and scale.

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 collaboratively with publishers. Many advertisers are already working in this way. They’re moving away from their reliance on a complex system of third parties towards more direct way of buying.

Publishers, and their wealth of first-party data, are valuable because they can build nuanced audiences for advertisers to target, aligned with target audience definitions. This gives advertisers the ability to reach new audiences and achieve marketing goals without compromising user privacy or unnecessary exposure to risk.

First-party data cohorts offer a solution

Advertising is still about reaching relevant audiences at scale on the right channels. With increased privacy concerns, addressability tactics will shift away from reliance on third-party trackers to an increased focus on publishers’ first-party data and publisher cohorts, which groups people with similar characteristics and behaviours without identifying them. 

Visitor-based rankings publisher, Ranker saw a 25% increase in RFP win rate within six months of taking their first-party data strategy to market and demonstrating the value of their unique first-party cohorts. Ranker can tell advertisers what their users are doing and their other interests and likes, this includes data designed to inform planning, optimization, and future targeting.

According to Ranker’s senior director of sales operations and planning JR Hoffman, “As the industry figures out the privacy piece, it helps our clients feel confident that we have a strategy in place for dealing with the ongoing changes around third-party cookies and privacy regulation.

Working directly with publishers and targeting via publisher cohorts alleviates challenges caused by privacy because they use consented first-party data. In this way, publishers and advertisers work towards a more responsible web, using privacy-compliant and sustainable approaches to engaging high-value audiences.

Don’t be afraid of the challenges ahead

It’s an exciting time for advertisers and publishers. But it’s also challenging, as have other major shifts in advertising. There are over 100 post-cookie solutions, according to continuing analysis by MMA Global and Prohaska Consulting, but all differ in regards to how data is used.

Publishers and advertisers need the infrastructure to connect safely with multiple publishers at a global scale, in a brand-safe environment where no data is leaked, and personalized advertising at scale is possible for first-party data owners.

Rethinking privacy as an opportunity to fuel possibilities will help publishers and advertisers emerge from the cloud of confusion that has shrouded them in 2021. Critically, it will also put people back into the decisions we make in advertising.

About the author

Elizabeth Brennan is the Head of Advertiser Strategy for Permutive, which powers the future of targeted advertising on the Open Web. With over a decade of experience in digital advertising, Elizabeth is a champion of women in business and a strong believer in the power of coaching. A graduate of The University of Reading, Elizabeth is a former winner of the prestigious NABS Fast Forward award and has gone on to achieve Code First certification as part of the organization’s initiative to increase the number of women in tech.

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