Home Data-Driven Thinking How The ‘Privacy By Default’ Internet Will Reshape Ad Industry Priorities

How The ‘Privacy By Default’ Internet Will Reshape Ad Industry Priorities

Garrett McGrath, Chairman, Prebid.org
Mike Racic, President, Prebid.org

Change is coming quickly in the digital advertising industry.

With Google holding fast to its vow to phase out all third-party cookies by end of year, industry stakeholders are rethinking product road maps, business models and audience attribution tactics to prepare for advertising in a privacy-by-default internet.

All the while, our ad-supported digital ecosystem continues to grow and evolve, changing industry dynamics in real time. With so much shifting, here’s what’s top of mind for Prebid members, based on feedback from a cross-section of the top companies in the industry.

There will be a collective focus on privacy

As the industry continues to navigate the ongoing shift away from third-party cookies, there will be a substantial learning curve. With so many audience signals at large, independent ad tech will need to coalesce around working identity solutions. 

The next several months will both narrow the aperture on the raw number of identity providers in the market while widening it in terms of the veracity and effectiveness of those left standing.

As opposed to “business as usual,” considerable work will be devoted to audience attribution and measurement on the web. Once cookies go away, there will be a steady move toward more server-centric solutions that don’t rely on third-party data.

This won’t prove to be as significant a departure for emerging channels such as CTV, audio and DOOH, as they can be less dependent on third-party data. The transition away from third-party data will consequently accelerate innovation in these channels and drive a push toward interoperable solutions that make it easier for everyone to transact.

Notably, players who weren’t previously central to measurement (i.e., Prebid or SSPs) could become more focal as they will still have the raw materials to construct measurement and attribution data. Historically, this has been handled on the buy side via third-party tech, but this likely will shift toward the sell side, which is better equipped to fill the gap left by cookies. 

In the meantime, publishers and advertisers will forge closer ties through their mutual utilization of first-party data. Industrywide collaboration will lay the groundwork for long-term revenue growth while providing core privacy standards for working media.

Make room for mobile, in-app and emerging channels


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As cookies go away, areas less affected by cookie deprecation – like mobile and in-app advertising – are poised for growth. 

Last year, global mobile ad spend hit a record $327 billion and is expected to climb to $400 billion this year.

With the increasing use of smart and digital devices, the programmatic opportunity will be immense. With the rise of digital out-of-home (DOOH), audio and CTV, the indispensability of server-side technology to seamlessly deliver ad creative at scale cannot be overstated. 

As CTV and OTT platforms grow, marketers will increasingly look to run omnichannel campaigns. Server-side technology plays a crucial role in facilitating ad delivery across channels.

But the challenge lies in the lack of uniform standards across these emerging channels.

Addressing the IAB’s recent release of new definitions for instream and out-stream video formats will also take focus. While this change is a net positive for transparency, publishers and exchanges must allocate time and resources to keep pace with video’s new technical demands.

Industry stakeholders will continue to innovate to improve monetization in video and mobile formats, developing tools and workflows to increase efficiency and seamless ad delivery regardless of format.

The buy and sell side get closer

As buyers and sellers tackle shared challenges such as identity, transparency, and supply path optimization, the two ends of the supply path are beginning to work more closely. 

User experience remains front and center for both advertisers and publishers. There is always a shared desire for quality media, especially as the industry cracks down on Made-For-Advertising sites.

There is also a shared interest in making ad buying and delivery easier for all parties. Running frictionless transactions across web and server-side platforms saves ad budgets and revenue for both marketers and publishers. 

Meanwhile, brands are taking a more active role in innovation, partnering with the supply side to drive efficiencies. 

Overall, with increasing supply-path optimization and consolidation, the ecosystem is becoming more streamlined. This creates more coherent solutions and affords more curation and choice.

Transparency will drive standards and fuel growth

As digital media grows, major players are investing in partners that embrace open, transparent software solutions. This reduces the likelihood of fraud, inflated fees and inefficiencies that cut into revenue.

Brands will increasingly seek more transparency from the supply path, with open-source initiatives providing greater clarity and trust for marketers. Establishing interoperability between legacy and emerging digital channels indisputably drives revenue for the entire supply chain.

For solutions to be sustainable, they must be adaptable. They also must belong to an independent governing standards body outside of any private company or even Prebid. Collaboration for the collective good must be the driving intent in order to make solutions accessible, efficient and lasting.

The year ahead: a rising tide lifts all boats

Moving into this next phase of innovation, pooling resources to attack common problems will pave our path forward. As solutions are currently underway and track is being laid to fix upcoming challenges, now is not the time to sit on the sidelines but get in the arena and contribute to common solutions. 

Publishers should monitor their revenue and persistently test to find their most optimal setup. Buyers should also monitor their reporting. Creating a collective pool of shared information is the best way to adapt successfully to major change whenever it does indeed occur.

Audience targeting, measurement and attribution aren’t going anywhere, but they will intrinsically evolve. The competitive advantage will belong to those who collaborate, as the future of the industry rests on building the collective standards necessary to drive innovation.

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

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