PMG Digital Made for Humans

Staying Proactive in the Current State of Privacy

4 MINUTE READ | October 31, 2019

Staying Proactive in the Current State of Privacy

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Ashley McMahan

Ashley McMahan has written this article. More details coming soon.

Let’s start from the beginning. It’s 2009 and programmatic was born into the world of digital marketing. As the adoption of digital expanded, the floodgates opened and hundreds of data points became leverage to target consumers, allowing for vendors boasting rich data sets to aggressively sell to agencies and brands alike. Money poured into these offerings, and year over year growth took off like a rocketship. The promise of reaching the right user, at the right time, at an efficient price, and (Bonus!) having full visibility into measurement was gaining popularity faster than the release of the first iPhone.

Regulation was scarce, and it was the Wild West of consumer privacy policies. With money flowing from all angles, no one stopped to think, is this really what we should be doing? The ethics of consumer privacy and data collection were not considered until the first iteration of Safari’s ITP roll-out in 2017 — eight years after the fact. 

While privacy is not a new topic in the advertising industry, recent implementations around privacy and browser settings have been the buzz of the digital world over the last few months. In the not so distant past, Safari implemented ITP 2.1 changes that would hinder the ability to target against first- and third-party cookies, and Facebook was hit with the largest data scandal around political marketing last year. Google announced its own changes at this year’s Google Marketing Live event, noting the responsibility needed in handling user privacy and the importance of giving consumers a choice in selecting which (if any) sources are allowed to ingest their personal information, making fingerprinting a less-viable way to track users within the open web.

Apple released a privacy campaign noting its firm stance on zero data ingestion for any user who owns an Apple device. States have begun to self-regulate, passing legislation in California and Massachusetts. Ten years later, the tides have turned, and the “hottest” trend is an effort to right the wrongs our former marketer-selves created, relying on the ability to granularly track users on the open Internet. 

*Cue the panic*

It should come as no surprise that many brands, especially retailers, have grown attached to measuring their media and accessing granular insights from multiple tagged sources. Ad servers have provided conversion tracking and execution experiments that will no longer be available within specific browsers, and millions of dollars have been invested into Data Management Platforms with multi-year long contracts that are now unjustified.

The current state of the industry is creating a great divide. Walled gardens are becoming increasingly stronger, with platforms such as Google, Facebook, Amazon, and ISP/Broadband companies consolidating with media platforms (Xandr and Verizon) owning proprietary audiences unavailable across the open web. Brands are assuming less risk by pledging to put all their media dollars into these executions in efforts to prove the value of marketing to internal finance departments because it’s all trackable.

Walled gardens like Google and Facebook are becoming increasingly stronger.

But what about the other half of the Internet? Most brands have a large majority of site traffic and conversions being attributed to cookieless browsers and mobile devices because it is where consumers spend the majority of their time. As brands plan to instill loyalty into younger generations, mobile strategies are at the core of reaching younger demographics. So what is the best option? Run programs to self-select where the audience is trackable and miss out, or do you get creative?

PMG has taken a firm stance on creating digital strategies with a human approach. In order to uphold our values, we believe it is necessary for the future of display to effectively reach all users, regardless of trackability — and to do so ahead of the curve. 

Brands should feel empowered to get ahead and test into a multitude of options, while the data is still available.

While the majority of the industry is waiting to see where the chips fall, PMG has begun testing cookieless audience strategies across multiple clients’ mid- and upper-funnel strategies. With the help of our internal Alli tools, proxies are being devised on the back end to utilize measurable executions as a panel against cookieless initiatives. As the industry continues to shake out, brands should feel empowered to get ahead and test into a multitude of options, while the data is still available. 

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As we begin to scratch the surface of future-proofing programmatic, this topic will arguably become one of the most important issues talked about at future conferences and with journalists and industry leaders.

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