It's Time to Change, Regardless of Legislation or Not
Updated: Jan 27
It doesn’t matter if the ban on surveillance advertising gets passed or not. The simple proposition facing our industry is what comes after this type of targeting, not if it will go away or not. It will.
It’s time to forge a new path before one is foisted upon us, and that can happen from a few perspectives. Our 20 year love affair with the cookie and easy 3P data is coming to an end one way or another. We need to assume that both pure play and cohort-informed contextual has to be part of the go-forward solution to provide scale, performance and a safe harbor.
One of today’s realities is that the programmatic bid stream has a 50% attach rate of IDs to impressions, down from 100% three years ago. So let’s go all the way there: for purposes of discussion, all individual targeting is disallowed, but cohorts can be analyzed to gain some insight into how to target them using context alone.
How exactly do we execute this change, and what can we expect from the dominant walled gardens? That’s the question we focus on here with our customers and partners. We find our brand, publishing and data customers and partners are innovative and practical when it comes to fostering change. Let’s look at what each is doing with us today as a guide for what else could be coming.
Brands adapt in this new world using some of the same tools they’ve developed since CCPA and cookie deletion have come into focus. Brands have extensive 1P data on their customers as they should. In a world where they cannot leverage it directly, and at the individual level, it still has great value. Brands can and will look at aggregated performance and find those content areas they should target based on the analytic view the law allows. The logic follows that if a brand has a set of topics and related semantic attributes (KWs, entities, mindsets, sentiment, etc.) which produce performance, they should know that and be able to target that content.
Publishers in this world find themselves working to understand the value of their inventory to a brand. During the reign of the cookie the ID informed the impression bid price. The inventory didn’t matter all that much. But in our assumed world the publisher and brands are fairly aligned in what they want from content, which is understanding what topics are in high demand and why, and which ones aren’t. This requires consistency of categorization which we provide today in a flexible way. Then publishers need the open web, via the RTB spec, to clear the way for context in the open exchange.
Data companies are in the trickiest spot going forward. It remains to be seen which specific types of data are allowed and which are prohibited. If a data company has data it can use, it will have to use it at some aggregate level as opposed to the individual level. In this world the data company can use its signal as a beacon of performance assuming the data makes sense and converts. We think this begins to cull the herd of data companies pretty quickly. With context the data company gains categorization that brands can act on as they did with syndicated cookie segments earlier. Do that at programmatic speed and scale, and data companies are no longer reliant on the cookie for distribution.
What about the walled gardens? We say let the walled gardens try to protect the targeting all of society has antipathy for. They’ll all be happy to make changes as long as those changes include more obfuscation and less transparency. We’ll likely see higher cost and lower KPIs as a result of their moves.
We, our customers and partners have opted to walk away from what’s crumbling around us and create new, transparent, scale and performant ad products which respect people and frankly our own intelligence. Let the walled gardens hang onto the past. We’re moving on.
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