Consumer data and privacy

Alex Springer, sales & solutions architects director, Impact EMEA

“In 2019 we had to understand the driving force behind consumer privacy concerns. The focus was on making responsible and ethical choices around the appropriate usage of consumer data. In 2020, our challenge is how to build and maintain trust by respecting our customer’s privacy. We must responsibly use the data they have shared to improve their experience and promote our products and services at the same time. It will be essential for marketers to find new and engaging ways to deliver personalised and enriching experiences that also ensure trust and value for the end-user.”

Maxime Chevallon, chief operating officer, Adcash

“Regulation will almost certainly continue to clamp down on the use or – more specifically – the misuse of consumer data by advertisers as we move into 2020. As the digital advertising ecosystem ushers in the next wave of the privacy debate, the need to rebuild trust in ads is stronger than ever and advertisers must counterbalance the use of consumer data with an optimised user experience – far beyond their efforts to simply comply with data regulations.

“If advertisers can demonstrate that they’re using consumer data appropriately, perhaps they’ll be more inclined to consent. This is where a new approach to targeting can prove vital in 2020. For example, the key now lies in embracing user interests rather than just their personal information, working to remove the pain points felt by consumers in online advertising through understanding what a user wants to see in ads – more than simply what their data profile might suggest they want.

“By using intuitive, compliant methods that cluster users rather than targeting individual fingerprints and cookies, advertisers can add another string to their creativity bow by reaching individuals that have been grouped through their own interests with well-targeted, hyper-relevant content. This approach can open the door for advertisers to increase the likelihood of better ad engagement amongst desired users, whilst remaining completely compliant with regulations enforced by the likes of the GDPR in both 2020 and beyond.”

Damon Reeve, CEO, The Ozone Project

“As we move swiftly towards the 2020s, a slew of economic data is pointing towards a slower economy in the UK and the threat of wider recession. As marketing budgets tend to be threatened first, there can be no doubt that these shifting forces will be felt right across the digital advertising sector in the year ahead.

2020 will also see the continued battle between browsers and audience tracking. The threat to the third-party cookie from Apple’s ITP and the ICO’s guidance will hugely impact addressability within the digital market. When combined with a renewed focused from agencies and advertisers on digital advertising ROI, we should expect a major shift in their reliance on traditional ad tech metrics to assess campaigns in favour of marketing effectiveness measures that can gauge real success.

A greater focus on effectiveness will put transparency and quality firmly in the advertiser spotlight and will drive increased spend to premium publishers. With agencies entering a ‘resource crunch’, ease of use, access and scale will be important drivers for publishers seeking to capture this increased spend.

For agencies, their own economic models will continue to be challenged and as a result, they will carefully look to remove unnecessary costs from their business. It’s likely we will see a role reversal from agencies managing activity ‘in-house’ to investing more time and effort with managed services who can deliver the results on their behalf.”

Chris Hogg, managing director EMEA, Lotame

“We predict 2020 will see the rise of second-party data use among marketers as more players outside the big five – Apple, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and Facebook – collaborate and forge partnerships to build alternatives to the walled gardens. The major digital platforms will continue to dominate the space, as for many they represent the only scalable choice for data sharing, and working with them will continue to be a necessity. However, the rise in second-party data is going to deliver the quality data that marketers want, and deserve.

“Second-party data is experiencing renewed interest from marketers as it has the potential to take a marketing strategy to the next level. It can provide high quality, niche and precise data segments from partner companies in a similar field, helping marketers to deliver highly personable and tailored messaging to their audience. For marketers looking to access this calibre of data, proactive steps must be taken to ensure privacy and data standards are taken into consideration, and the data collected is credible. This means connecting with the highest quality second-party data providers that offer full transparency.  

With the right partners, marketers can reach new levels of scale and make their data work better for them. Ultimately, a combination of first, second and third-party data, will be the winning formula for 2020.”

Bob Canaway, chief marketing officer, Privitar

“This year we’ve finally seen the consequences of not complying with GDPR regulations, with giants like British Airways receiving record fines of £183 million. While data regulation is undoubtedly a positive step, confusing legislation has caused organisations to develop a fear of using their sensitive data, in a bid to avoid potentially crippling fines and damage to brand reputation.

The snag with a data lockdown is that organisations require large amounts of sensitive data to tailor and personalise customer messaging, and to create a seamless online journey.  With reports that 86% of people are willing to pay more for better customer experience, it’s not feasible to avoid using data – nor to avoid data regulation. Instead, it’s time to embrace a new regulatory age and ensure your employees are educated on compliance, your technology is fit for purpose and you are avoiding working in data silos. Through collaboration, compliance and smart technology it’s possible to deliver a superior customer experience in 2020 and beyond.”

Ian James, CEO, Silverbullet

“It’s no secret that throughout 2019 we’ve seen a definitive crumbling of the third-party cookie as GDPR enforcements continue to rise, and large internet browsers are cracking down on data collection. And, as we’ve seen with the ICO’s latest discoveries in the direct processing of special category data, the regulator isn’t shy of taking a hard-line approach to those flouting the rules. Whilst it’s true that the digital ad industry will struggle to adapt to this shift, not all is lost; in fact, there’s much to be gained. Businesses must start to think smarter and better in order to establish a sustainable, long-lasting marketing future – especially when it comes to the use of customer data.

So, as we head into 2020, there are a few things that businesses will have to consider. With a limited yet enriched data pool available, there will be a renewed focus on making this data work much, much harder. Many businesses will be heading back to the future of contextual targeting, searching for ways to inform with first-party data and enhance with artificial intelligence. We will also likely see a more pressing need for measurement, as businesses seek to better understand their digital assets and the value they provide. This surge in new technology and enhanced machine learning means both skill and trusted experience will be paramount. It’s time to re-focus on what marketing should be about: driving inspiring connections between people and experiences in a safe, respected way.”

Ben Barokas is Co-founder and CEO, Sourcepoint

“The last few years have introduced a level of uncertainty to digital advertising; the traditional ways of doing business have been impacted by increased regulation, privacy product innovations from tech-giants such as Apple, Firefox and Google, and a growing concern from consumers about where and why their personal online data is being shared. We’ve reached a point where the ad tech industry needs to seize the opportunities that a collaborative approach to consumer privacy rights and publisher sustainability can bring. 2020 has to be the year that consumers regain a level of trust through robust relationships with media owners, and engage directly on preferences around consent, content, and advertising. For those in the US, the California Consumer Privacy Act will be a starting point, but globally we’ll see publishers taking a new approach. 

“Transparent relationships will allow a publisher to better understand their consumer and align experiences with specific consent choices. We’ve already seen evidence that publishers that engage in clear communication with their audience perform better over time.  So the benefits are two-fold, with both improved, positive user experience and more sustainable monetisation for the publisher when the consumer agrees to pay for content with their attention and data. 

“Regulation is important to protect consumer privacy but consumers and media owners have to engage in a transparent value exchange that will protect the user’s data rights – while continuing to provide them with quality content – and support the survival of publishing and digital utility.”

Affiliate and cookie tracking

Richard Cook, executive director, Trade House Media

“Some publishers perhaps are unaware of the importance that cookies hold in terms of their programmatic revenue streams. Trading in 2019 has highlighted the disparity in revenue contribution from Safari users when compared to Chrome.  Given that Safari moved to a 3rd party cookie 24hr expiration this year and Google is introducing more stringent user controls on how cookies are utilised, the ability for advertisers to target based solely on their cookie implementation is diminishing.

In 2020, companies will need to work with publishing partners to look at ways to leverage their first-party data, in partnership with buyers, to seamlessly move to a trading strategy unreliant on cookies. We are at a period where the industry needs to embrace change and improve how we handle user data to provide valuable experiences for all parties; watch this space to see who delivers this in 2020!”

Peter Szyszko, CEO, White Bullet

“In 2019, there have been instances of brand-damaging misrepresentation by affiliates which had a negative impact on those brands’ reputation and skewed performance and results significantly. It is imperative that in 2020 brands use next-generation tools to monitor any form of misinterpretation and act swift to reduce the instances of false messaging; such as ‘Click here for a guaranteed win’. It is essential to track affiliate websites and identify if they are using the approved messaging; expect to see auditing of affiliates increase as the industry comes down hard on misrepresentation next year.”

Richard Foster, CRO, InfoSum

“The big question in 2019 has been ‘how will digital marketers deal with a cookieless world?’  As a result of tougher data legislation and technological advances in tracking prevention, we are seeing the demise of the third-party cookie as a way of assessing consumer behaviour and providing targeted advertising. With consumer demand for more personalised products and services still growing, brands will need to find an alternative approach to understand consumer activity. 

Some companies have explored unified ID solutions, which use a first-party ‘envelope’ to replicate the benefits of a third-party cookie. Combined with edge computing and local storage, these essentially become proxies for third-party cookies. While seemingly more compliant on the surface, these methods do not solve the underlying issues as they are still centralised and resolve in a third-party environment.

Moving forward into the next decade, marketers need to find solutions which encompass all of the benefits of analysing consumer data while complying completely with data regulations. We will see the rise of first-party platforms, where information about known audiences is made available for analysis in a decentralised architecture, without exposing or sharing raw data. This approach would mean publishers and brands can unlock valuable first-party data without the need to compromise on commercial trust, data privacy or data security; allowing digital advertising to thrive in a post-cookie world.”

Oliver Whitten, COO, Adform 

“The media narrative of late has largely focused on the pending cookie-less world and the end of programmatic advertising as we know it. This kind of doom and gloom coverage is to be expected. From ad blocking to the death of Flash, to GDPR, each year the industry has had a new topic to concern itself with. However, these predictions also tend to acknowledge how adaptable, innovative and collaborative our industry can be and it’s capacity to overcome challenges and continue to thrive. 

Moving forward, the role of third-party cookies will evolve and their significance will be reduced. In their place, new ID solutions, first-party cookies, and consent-oriented technologies will be stronger than ever. This may pose some challenges in the short term for data-enriched marketing, but with IAB research showing that three in four consumers prefer fewer but more personalised ads, using consumer’s data respectfully and intelligently in 2020 will be key. Not only will this increase performance for publishers and advertisers, but boost consumer trust in brands, making the entire ecosystem more transparent. At Adform, we passionately believe in the importance of balancing data rights with relevant, healthy advertising – and see this as the road forward. 

Beyond this, it has begun to, and will only continue to invigorate industry interest in innovative formats and technologies (dynamic ads, video, audio, contextual) alongside the rapid adoption of new media such as DOOH and CTV. Over the duration of 2020, we’ll increasingly see attempts to break down media siloes as brands and agencies navigate a new relationship and technology helps to bypass incumbent siloes.

Programmatic is rapidly enveloping all digital media, and it’s a net positive that 2020 will see the conversation pivot back to driving innovation and creating better experiences across all stages of the supply chain.”

Ad fraud and transparency

Andy Ashley, International Marketing Director, Digital Element

“As we come to the end of the decade, the advertising world looks very different from ten years ago. With political and regulatory changes resulting in strategies being repeatedly adapted – alongside the rapid pace of technological change creating an increasingly mobile-first world – advertisers need to work hard to keep up.  

But while this uncertainty is set to continue into next year, there will remain some constants advertisers can rely on. Wherever there is potential for ads to make a profit, regardless of whether the format is new or old, there is the potential for ad fraud. 

From click injection to fake clicks, the cost of ad fraud on the industry is huge – looking to reach $30bn this year alone. So advertisers are facing an uphill struggle to filter out unreliable engagements and results, while also securing ROI on campaign budgets and meeting legitimate customers’ needs.

The key to success in 2020 will be in smart technology and data decisions. By ensuring reliable and effective fraud prevention tech and data solutions are in place, businesses can better manage and interpret the masses of information available to them, to not only remain ahead of the changing trends that impact their plans, but also the fraudsters looking to damage their profits.”

Dominic Satur, VP Business Development Europe, Flashtalking

“As we look forward to 2020 there is a huge amount for the independent ad tech space to be optimistic about. While Google and Facebook will surely continue to account for the lion’s share of media spend, brands are increasingly looking for an insulating layer between themselves and the web giants. Independent ad tech stands ready and waiting to provide this, and through closer collaboration and meaningful integrations can offer a compelling alternative to going all-in with Google, a proposition that resonates with increasing numbers of digital marketers.

The challenges created due to the demise of the third-party cookie can be met through a combination of strategies such as cookieless measurement, more nuanced approaches to targeting and (hopefully) a creative renaissance (now that rich media can be executed much more easily at scale programmatically). This changing landscape creates an opportunity for brands with the appetite to embrace new thinking.

Transparency, specifically through data, will continue to differentiate players looking to add genuine value for brands. Furthermore, a willingness to offer granular, event-level data outputs will remain crucial for serious tech providers as distributed ledger technology has created a new auditing layer for forward-thinking advertisers.

Brands, agencies and consultancy services prepared to look beyond the duopoly will be able to innovate the capabilities of their advertising technologies, ensuring that they keep ahead of developments in the digital landscape.”

Stay tuned next Wednesday (December 11) for Part 2 of our 2020 predictions.