Prepare for the responsible web
by Andra Mititelu, Sales Director, Permutive

As the industry moves away from third-party data, Andra Mititelu discusses what the future of audience targeting will look like. She states that businesses and their marketers must prepare for the ‘responsible web’, where consumer privacy is protected. 

23rd October 2022 Read time: 5 minutes Watch time: 39 minutes

Data privacy is a major concern for both consumers and businesses. As awareness of past data misuse by organisations increases, companies are under pressure to ensure they meet consumer expectations. Andra Mititelu joined the What’s Possible Community sessions to discuss why businesses and their marketing teams must prepare for the “responsible web”.

She says this will be an internet where consumer privacy is sacred. Andra works at Permutive – an organisation with a mission to rebuild data in digital advertising while protecting consumer privacy. 

Data is vital for marketers. However, the past practice of obtaining consumers’ personal data without proper consent and using it to customise marketing messages has led to consumer mistrust and concern about how they are tracked online.

Cross-platform consumer tracking is (almost) over

Government interventions in privacy regulations and big tech players reacting to heightened consumer awareness and demands are changing the methods businesses use to access and share customer data.

For example, Apple has gone to lengths to inform their customers that they can opt out of cross-platform tracking. They recently launched the Apple AppTracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which provides improved privacy protection for consumers using iPhones, iPads and Apple TV. ATT provides greater transparency around the data that apps collect and how it is used, empowering users with more control over their personal information.

They have also made a commercial to nudge their customers into thinking more about how valuable their data might be and to encourage behavioural changes:

So, how many customers opted out of tracking? Data from app analytics firm Flurry revealed that 94% of Apple users have opted out of Facebook tracking. Andra says an industry forecast predicted that 40% of users would opt in for tracking, but only 6% did. 

The learning? Consumers will choose to protect their privacy when given the option to do so.

The cookieless future

As more and more consumers opt out of having their data used by adtech and large-tech companies such as Facebook and Google, advertisers are losing the ability to reach up to 70% of their audiences through ad-tech on the Open Web. This presents a serious problem for businesses that rely on advertising to reach potential customers.

Andra also emphasises that users are reclaiming their power and forcibly denying third-party cookies. She says the cookie question is often mischaracterised as something in Google’s hands, but it is in consumers’ hands. 

She says 70% of consumers in Europe and North America have disabled cookies today.

As a result, a mere 30% of consumers can be reached by advertisers on the open web today due to the widespread use of cookie-blocking browsers such as Apple Safari and Firefox. Even among users of Chrome, the most popular browser, 40% have disabled cookies.

This impacts brands’ historical ability to understand customers, target customers, and measure. A lot of the optimisation and measurement frameworks we have built in this industry in the past 20 years have been using this ability to track customers across domains, understand customer journeys, and then measure results and optimise from there,” Andra explained.

With those means of tracking going away. Many brands are in a bit of a pickle at the moment. They’re wondering how to reach consumers in a way that’s both privacy safe and scalable, given the astounding consumer opt-out rates“. 

Where to from here?

Andra explained that traditional audience targeting has historically functioned with the help of several intermediaries. There will be more direct relationships between advertisers and publishers in the responsible web future. Privacy-safe collaboration between these entities with consented data is the only way forward. 

Proprietary platforms to help bridge targeting gaps are launching in the industry. Solutions providers are aiming at helping brands achieve their desired targeting in a privacy-safe way. These solutions will depend on brands’ first-party data relationships with their customers.

The way we do it at Permutive is through cohort-based targeting. We wanted to build a system that enables advertisers to use data still but in a responsible and scalable way,” Andra said.

Cohorts are built from Publisher consented first-party data. Andra says Publishers can see a world that the DSPs/adtech can’t see, as they have direct relationships with their readers. Most consumers are opting out of adtech using their data but not of Publishers’ direct relationships. Consumers understand and agree with the value exchange with direct publisher relationships. 

Many are looking to develop cohorts as a privacy-safe, responsible way of targeting customers based on their interests. This method will enable audience-led precision targeting that does not require identifiable characteristics of each user. 

Solutions that try to replicate third-party cookies are interim solutions that will not last. My advice for advertisers is to think long-term. My prediction is regulations will get stricter. We will need to consider how to continue using data responsibly,” Andra warned.

The role for us in the industry as marketers, technology providers, agencies and publishers is to help rebuild consumers’ trust in the digital advertising ecosystem. In this new world, technology acts as an enabler and not an intermediary for advertising. This way, we can make the advertising ecosystem both more responsible and more sustainable”.