Noor Naseer is VP of Media Innovations & Technology at Basis Technologies. Her presentation earlier this month at SXSW 2023 explored a question at the forefront of many advertisers’ minds: Will data privacy kill advertising?
Here, Noor offers a framework for what advertising teams can do today to set themselves up for success in a privacy-focused future.
Scroll through any major news site, and it’s clear that data privacy in advertising is a burning topic. The last few years have ushered in a staggering amount of privacy-focused regulation and legislation, and regulators are cracking down on holding companies accountable to these new standards. At the same time, more and more consumers are concerned about data privacy—86% of US consumers, to be precise—and people today have greater control over how companies use and share their personal information. Couple these factors with the impending deprecation of third-party cookies in Google Chrome, and it’s no surprise that advertisers are concerned about the future.
The question on everyone’s mind is this: How can marketers connect with consumers in a way that’s scalable, personalized, and privacy-friendly?
The most important thing to know is that the right approach will look different for everyone. Even more, it will involve a massive investigative undertaking to figure out what solution (or combination of solutions) works best for your target audiences and your marketing team. As of yet, there’s no one-size-fits-all replacement that advertisers can employ in place of third-party cookies. And, though it might be tempting to wait around for someone to come up with such a solution, those who choose progress over procrastination when exploring privacy-friendly solutions will come out on top.
As I explored earlier, consumers are demanding increased privacy when it comes to their data. But, they still want personalized experiences with the brands they’re interacting with. One recent report found that 73% of all consumers say they expect companies to understand their unique needs, and more than half say they expect all offers to be personalized.
Without third-party cookies, what’s a marketing team to do?
First, teams should develop a healthy appreciation that this is a complex shift and there will likely be a margin of difference between the third-party cookie targeting of the past and the cookieless solutions of the present.
Then, teams should embrace this opportunity to experiment and test available alternative solutions. The reality is that not every solution is right for every brand or company. Without testing what’s available, it will be difficult to determine what will work best for your unique team and audience.
Here are some of the solutions that digital advertisers can explore and test—whether alone or in concert with one another—as they adapt to the data privacy demands of today:
As advertisers move beyond third-party cookies, first-party data will become increasingly important. Since this is data that consumers willingly give to brands, it is inherently privacy-friendly. And, because it comes directly from users, it is both high-quality and accurate.
For advertisers looking to make the most of their first-party data, here are a few questions to consider:
There’s a reason that contextual targeting is having a moment in digital advertising: It’s a privacy-friendly solution that’s both time-tested and cost-efficient. Contextual advertising works by allowing advertisers to place their ads in contextually relevant environments. For example, a bakeware brand could use contextual targeting to place display ads alongside recipes on a website, or a snack food company could target their ads to digital out-of-home (DOOH) screens at gas station pumps to entice hungry travelers.
Though it still relies on some user data for personalization, geotargeting is an accessible targeting solution that is more privacy-friendly than cookie-based IDs. Advertisers can harness the power of geotargeting and location targeting to reach audiences at the right time, in the right way, and with the right message. And via targeting by country, city, or even zip code, advertisers can utilize available information about specific locations—such as language, food, weather, and local landmarks—to create personalized ads for users in those areas.
Recent advancements in machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) present additional opportunities for privacy-friendly targeting. Take, for instance, Basis’ integration with TransUnion Audience Platform (TAP). TAP’s technology allows advertisers to pair their first-party data with TAP’s audience pool (which covers 99% of the US population). Through machine learning, that first-party data can then be enhanced with more data points across a variety of categories to create holistic consumer profiles for more personalized messaging and targeting. Similar to geotargeting, AI does rely upon some personal user data and, as such, will be worth examining and evaluating as it continues to develop.
It’s clear that the digital advertising landscape is undergoing a significant shift, with the push for increased data privacy at its center. And while it’s true that we have a little time before the loss of third-party cookies in Chrome, it’s imperative that marketing teams use that time wisely.
How? My recommendation is to start testing some of the privacy-friendly options discussed above as soon as possible. In doing so, you’ll be on your way to determining the unique combination of cookie alternatives that works best for your brand(s) and your audiences.
Want to learn more about how your team can overcome the challenges posed by data privacy? Check out our guide, Beyond Third-Party Cookies, where we do a deeper dive on how advertisers can overcome the identity crisis.