More opportunities for telcos in digital services, and consent becomes the internet’s North Star

Welcome to the August edition of Spotlight, Novatiq’s roundup of the most important stories in digital marketing and adtech.

What we have for you today: The need for digital age verification services, marketers’ views on the cookieless future, and why consent is becoming the foundation for data sharing.

Online verification: a major opportunity for telcos

This month, two stories have underlined just how important age verification will be to the future of the internet. In the U.S., the Senate voted to advance the Kids Online Safety Act (Kosa) and amendments to the Children and Teens’ Online Privacy Protection Act to a full floor vote. Both bills aim to help keep young people safe online and shield them from the mental health risks posed by social media.

As the laws would require digital platforms to treat children differently to adult users, there seems a clear case for the more widespread use of age verification tools. Such services would also protect firms from existing data privacy laws. Take Tik Tok as a case in point – the company currently faces being fined millions of pounds for breaching children’s privacy after a ruling by EU data protection regulator. Or Google, for that matter, which may have inadvertently tracked children on the internet through its YouTube ads system.

Telcos are in the ideal position to tap into this emerging market for digital age verification solutions. Their unrivalled network intelligence and highly secure networks would allow them to safely verify the age of web users without breaching privacy laws. Indeed, age verification is just one example of many emerging opportunities for telcos to provide safe and secure solutions to the digital marketplace – not least for privacy-first advertising IDs.

Marketers set their sights on a cookieless future

Cookie deprecation has been a long time coming, and marketers can be forgiven for having taken time to prepare. However, a couple of interesting surveys out this month suggest that their plans are now accelerating.

According to a survey in the Asia Pacific region, 60% of agencies and 43% of brand-side marketers say preparing for cookie deprecation is their top priority for FY 23/24, with a focus on investigating cookieless advertising solutions and securing deeper audience insights through first-party data. This chimes with recent research from IAB Europe, which found that 74% of advertisers and 80% of agencies expect their investment in programmatic to increase over the next 12 months, and be fuelled largely by second-party data.

It’s clear that the digital marketing industry is pivoting to new technologies and approaches to make up for the loss of cookies, and that’s very much to be welcomed. And it’s not just technologies that are forging the industry of tomorrow, partnerships are crucial too. This month, WPP announced one such innovative partnership. The agency is teaming up with Spotify to tap the latter’s first-party data, which include valuable insights such as why consumers tune in to music, podcasts, and audiobooks, and how receptive they are to ads in those moments.

As mentioned above, partnerships between adtech companies, telcos, and brands will also be a crucial element of the emerging digital marketing industry, offering as they do the best approach to achieving real-time personalised advertising at scale.

Consent becomes the internet’s North Star

This August, customer consent came to the fore as the single most important mechanism for compliantly and safely sharing personal data for digital marketing. In the EU, Meta has fallen foul of privacy regulations so many times it is abandoning any other basis for sharing data and focusing on consent alone. As an aside, by signalling that it might diverge from the EU GDPR in the future, the UK seems to have shot itself in the foot, as Meta will not extend the same courtesy to UK users. The lesson seems clear: diverging from regulatory best practice succeeds only in leaving citizens unprotected.

Elsewhere, regulators are taking action to ensure that consent mechanisms are applied earnestly by digital platforms. This includes acting against “dark patterns,” whereby companies design their consent mechanisms to trick users into giving away more data than they otherwise would have done. Dark patterns are currently very much on the radar of the UK Advertising Standards Authority, the European Data Protection Board, and the Federal Trade Commission in the US.

Dark patterns aside, the industry seems to recognise the huge importance of consent to future-proofing their businesses. Many of the cookieless alternatives outlined above are directly linked to ensuring consent (our own proposition is a case in point). In other cases, companies are looking to acquisitions to help deliver consent. This month, for instance, InMobi acquired Quantcast’s consent management platform in a move that will allow it to help publishers secure consent. The direction of travel is clear: if a brand or publisher wants to collect and share personal data, it needs clear consent to do so. That is a very welcome development indeed.

More from Novatiq

As always, you can check out our latest blogs for some more industry insights. This month we’re looking at how the programmatic ecosystem has evolved and providing a “state of the nation” summary of where it is today. While you’re there, why not download our latest white papers: Telco Marketing in the Age of Privacy and Venturing into Martech – here you can learn more about the huge opportunities for telcos in the digital marketing space.

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