Why the future of digital ads doesn’t require personal data

Despite the emphasis on obtaining, retaining, updating and leveraging personal data when it comes to tailoring advertisements to individual consumers today, this may be a passing trend. William Merchan, head of verity, GumGum, explains why personal data may not be the cornerstone of the future of digital ads.

This is not a trick question: what is the purpose of advertising? Ask this question to ten marketers and you will get 20 different answers. That’s because we’ve built an incredibly complex digital advertising industry complex to achieve one primary goal: deliver relevant, engaging ads that capture users’ attention and inspire them to take action.

It’s that simple, yet we use vast, complicated, and opaque audience targeting machinery to track people all over the internet.

But here is a radical idea: Relevant ads that engage and inspire action don’t require an industry of audience targeting. Brands don’t need to know everything about you – or really something about you – to deliver relevant and engaging advertisements. Let me explain.

Most media buying is based on reach and frequency. Whether it’s targeted audience points on TV or digital video or circulation and readership metrics on magazines, it’s all about reach and frequency. The entire trillion-dollar media industry is currently working on the notion of reach and frequency: how many times was my ad shown? But no matter how many times an ad was shown. What matters is how long people watch these ads and whether they take action.

Learn more: How brands can keep pace with third-party data changes

Beyond impressions and clicks

IInstead of measuring impressions and clicks, the technology is already smart enough to truly understand the context of a digital environment. It’s not just about researching keywords; it really understands all the signals of a domain: words, video, audio, metadata and more (the full context) – and combines that with dynamic and engaging ad creative. Making these elements work together can change the face of digital advertising and make it something people find useful. And we can do that without constantly wondering if we’ve crossed the line into people’s personal data. You give people the power to tell you what interests them at that exact moment and deliver advertising that matches their specific interests or needs.

Contextual has always been one of the strategies available to marketers. The next generation of contextual proves it can be even more accurate and effective than audience targeting.

Two innovations in contextual advertising are driving this change:

  • Better content analysis: Truly understanding the context of an environment requires going beyond keywords – it requires in-depth analysis of available words, images, video, audio and other metadata. AI, natural language processing, and image recognition can understand all of these signals and how they work together in the environment.
  • Real-time attention signals and metrics: Attention metrics are available for every impression and are strongly correlated with ad effectiveness.

Measure campaign success

Context is only part of it. We also need to rethink how we measure digital advertising and campaign success. Is it just the number of people who clicked on a link? You have to aim higher.

We all know digital advertising noise is high, so showing a viewable ad is not a good indicator of advertising effectiveness. Now we need to figure out how to get attention. We have the tools to measure attention and learn what gets people’s attention and what drives them to action.

Advanced contextual solutions identify the true content of the content. Advanced attention solutions validate whether or not the ad creative resonates in this environment (through increased/decreased attention). And then the real-time optimization engines deliver the campaign programmatically accordingly.

The Mindset Matrix

Context, creativity, and attention combined are what I call the mindset matrix. These three things working in tandem allow advertisers to capture a person’s mindset in current and emerging digital environments – without using personally identifiable information (or PII in the lingo).

The Mindset Matrix framework changes and improves the dynamics for everyone and the future of digital advertising. People receive relevant ads that they welcome and interact with. Advertisers deliver engaging and relevant ads that don’t require personal data and are still effective and build brand trust and favor.

And publishers can go back to creating engaging content and covering critical news without fear that tech advertisers will overly block content (like anything that just mentions the word pandemic, for example) and leave valuable advertising dollars on the table. . This last element is essential.

Learn more: Building Trust 101: why a modern approach to data protection is essential

How will the cookies crumble?

Publishers and media owners on the open web are already facing the impending loss of third-party cookies, which will defeat targeting and potentially reduce the value of their inventory by more than 50%. On mobile, Apple’s iOS updates effectively eliminated targeting based on mobile advertising identifiers (MAIDS), leading to comparable drops in inventory value.

Meanwhile, walled gardens continue to reinforce their barriers and command ever larger shares of every additional dollar spent on digital. The entire open web publishing business model is in jeopardy.

Not all publishers can switch to subscriptions, and fewer still can seek the comfortable confines of an owner who will allow them to operate at a loss. They must be (and should be!) income-generating businesses. To do this, they need to forge a new path and a new profitable publishing model that can be sustained in a cookie-free future.

The viability of independent media depends on it.

As an industry, we can do so much better. Some of the most innovative and smartest people in the world are working on technologies and solutions limited only by our imagination.

It’s time to make digital advertising something that people find fun and useful again.

What are your thoughts on reliance on personal information in digital advertising? Share with us on LinkedIn, Twitter, Where Facebook. We would love to hear from you!