All advertisers are looking to maximise engagement and have become accustomed to using audience-centric targeting models in order to deliver ads to the consumers who are most likely to provide this engagement. However, with the end of third-party cookies on the horizon, and even some so-called “privacy-first” frameworks coming under regulatory scrutiny, advertisers need to think long and hard about their practices. 

Contextual signals, though free or personal data, still use data to ensure that ads are being served to the relevant consumers. And the entire industry is trying to figure out how to make this data more effective for decisioning. 

Contextual signals provide a truly privacy-first approach to advertising, as they don’t utilise any personal data or track users around the web. This enables advertisers to move away from third-party cookies, allowing them to leverage their first-party data such as segments as additional information in the bidding process. Removing this reliance on third-party user data will put advertisers in good stead for the privacy-centric world we now live in. And one of the most effective ways that advertisers can get results in this world is through artificial intelligence (AI).

Contextual intelligence

Though AI can benefit the entire digital advertising space – particularly once third-party cookies have departed – it can play a huge role in taking contextual experiences to the next level.

For advertisers, AI can be thought of as a technology that gets the best results from a set of variables, especially the contextual information of a bid request.

A reliance on behavioural targeting in the wake of the deprecation of third-party cookies will have a huge impact on ROI, so it’s key for advertisers to be open to targeting ads via fewer data intensive avenues. 

When data-abundant contextual signals are coupled with machine learning, the efficiency of campaigns can actually be enhanced beyond the capabilities of traditional approaches, and provide consumers with a more friendly experience overall.

AI can be used to gather the contextual information of a bid request. Having fewer data segments available to target means that the performance of ads is going to be more reliant on learning the optimal bidding function for particular campaigns, rather than targeting “lookalikes”. 

The AI enables advertisers to deliver highly-relevant ads without the need for personal data, finding patterns to engage with the right types of consumers and maximise return on investment (ROI). 

Without the support of AI, it will be more difficult to make the most of the contextual signals available in bid requests to deliver ads that grab the attention of consumers, regardless of other key factors like creative. 

An intelligent future

AI is imperative to the future of digital advertising. With the increasingly privacy-conscious landscape, AI can ensure that advertisers realise consumer expectations in a more seamless manner, while ensuring that the experiences delivered to those consumers are privacy-friendly.

In this post-cookie world, AI can collate the non-user-specific metadata that exists in abundance within bid requests, and use this to better align brands and consumers contextually, without ever tracking users across sites. 

Sophisticated privacy-preserving AI technology requires no interaction with the consumer at all and, thanks to being able to make more of metadata than broken cookie data, is far more powerful and effective than using legacy systems to deliver and optimise advertising. 

Rather than over-targeting to a rigid set of people, AI can learn from a pool of unlabelled signals building a learning data set specific to each campaign, which itself evolves progressively as the campaign evolves, shedding those variables that do not create performance and welcoming new ones that do. It can get conversions from more people which, in turn, boosts a campaign’s ROI by leveraging those signals to determine the exact price to pay for an impression with regards to its computed probability to convert. 

A machine for the post-cookie world

Though it can’t be denied that the deprecation of cookies will hit the industry in a big way, the cookieless world of digital advertising will still provide advertisers with plenty of opportunities to reach consumers, and one of the best ways to do that is through AI-powered ad decisioning.

As we wave goodbye to the third-party cookie, driving ROI will become increasingly dependent on AI solutions that don’t rely on any personal data or cross-site behavioural analysis. There’s a great opportunity for advertisers to utilise the technology to deliver advertising in a way that reduces friction between consumers and brands.

The privacy-centric world of digital advertising can use customisable AI to deliver powerful ad decisioning that works with non-user-specific contextual signals for targeting, moving away from user tracking and profiling. 

It may not always seem like it, but the future of digital advertising is something to be positive about. The technology exists to unlock audience attention at scale, while leaving behind the intrusive legacy technology that we have all become accustomed to. And that technology is artificial intelligence.

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