Personalised advertising in a privacy-first world

16th June  |  
5 minutes

With the withdrawal of third-party cookies and Mobile Device IDs (MAIDs), there has been some concern in the digital marketing industry that personalised advertising will be severely restricted in the future. The worry is that without the ability to deliver personalised ads to specific audiences, advertisers will divert their budgets to other forms of media. In fact, the loss of tracking cookies and MAIDs, which stems from a recognition that consumer privacy is paramount, is not the end of personalised advertising, it is just the start of making personalised advertising better for consumers. 

What is personalised advertising? 

Personalised advertising is the process of serving content to consumers online or on mobile apps that is directly relevant to them as individuals. An ad can be considered personalised if it relates to a person’s interests or plans, or if it corresponds to an important event in their lives, whether that’s a birthday, wedding, or new home.  

How do personalised ads work? 

The traditional model for personalised advertising uses third-party cookies and MAIDs to track people across the internet to see the sites they visit. Using this information, brands can advertise relevant products to people based on their inferred interests. The process is automated through the programmatic advertising infrastructure so that brands can send personalised advertisements to large audiences of people who are likely to be interested in their products or services.  

What are the benefits of personalised advertising? 

The benefit to brands of personalised ads is that it increases their return on investment, as they know that their ads are being seen by relevant audiences. Consumers also benefit. Rather than having to put up with irrelevant brand content that’s little better than spam, they receive relevant messages that add value to their lives – “Advertising as a Service”.  Public support for personalised advertising it high, with 71% of consumers saying they prefer personalised ads.  

How will personalised advertising survive the loss of cookies and MAIDs? 

While at first site disastrous, the withdrawal of tracking IDs does not spell the end for personalised advertising. The adtech ecosystem is innovating new approaches that will ensure consumers can still be engaged with relevant content that is meaningful to them as individuals without the need to breach their privacy by tracking their online habits. The withdrawal of cookies is therefore a positive evolution in digital marketing, which is becoming better for consumers.  

Contextual advertising effectiveness 

One approach that is receiving significant attention in this regard is contextual advertising, which aims to make advertisements relevant by targeting them to publisher sites and apps based on context. For instance, an athletic shoe brand would look to buy inventory on sports-themes websites, as such sites will likely be visited by potential customers.  

However, contextual advertising is not true personalisation, and there are drawbacks to the approach. For example, publishers of news sites may have difficulty selling inventory if brands blacklist negative news items. As the Guardian reported, last year UK newspapers faced losing £50m in digital revenues as advertisers blocked ads from appearing next to all stories that mentioned the coronavirus pandemic.  

Telco verification IDs for personalised ads 

Another, more sophisticated approach to ad personalisation in a privacy first world is Novatiq’s Fusion, which supports two new types of privacy-first advertising IDs: Zenith and Hyper. Our approach uses pseudonymised first-party IDs from publishers and brands that can then be verified by telco partners with their own network intelligence to build complete audience profiles.   

Telco-verified IDs enable publishers and brands to recognise users across devices without knowing who they are and only if they consent to being recognised. The Hyper ID is a transient ID that then activates audiences in the programmatic ecosystem, disappearing after use and thereby further protecting the privacy of web users.  

By enabling telco-verified IDs through our Fusion platform, Novatiq helps publishers and brands achieve a 360-degree view of web users across both the authenticated and anonymous areas of the web. Through these profiles, advertisers can reach the right audiences at scale with relevant, personalised content that adds value to their lives. Critically, we do so without tracking and with the full consent of users. Our approach enables true Advertising as a Service that will help brands differentiate and build stronger, one-to-one relationships with their customers.  

A better approach to ad personalisation 

Until recently, the digital advertising industry has been built according to what was convenient for brands and publishers. Issues of consumer privacy were seldom if ever considered. Today, public attitudes have changed, and law makers around the world are putting in place new regulations to enshrine the right of people to go online without being tracked. 

As a result, digital marketing needs to be remodelled around the needs of the customer. Right now, that means finding a way to give people the relevant, personalised content they want, delivering Advertising as a Service based on people’s specific needs, but without impacting their privacy. Thanks to developments like consented telco-verified IDs, the ad industry is rising to this challenge. The result will be a better internet for all.  

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