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Addressing Signal Loss At Programmatic I/O

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Paul Bannister, chief strategy officer for CafeMedia, and Nirish Parsad, emerging tech practice lead at Tinuiti, spoke to AdExchanger Executive Editor Sarah Sluis about the ad industry’s worsening signal-loss problem due to the deprecation of device identifiers and third-party cookies.

There will be no silver-bullet solution when it comes to advertising signal loss, but instead a patchwork quilt.

These mixed (but apt) metaphors were invoked by Paul Bannister, chief strategy officer for CafeMedia, at AdExchanger’s Programmatic I/O event in Las Vegas this week.

Bannister and fellow panelist Nirish Parsad, emerging tech practice lead at Tinuiti, spoke to AdExchanger Executive Editor Sarah Sluis about the ad industry’s worsening signal-loss problem due to the deprecation of device identifiers and third-party cookies.

Betting on the future

Drawing on the event’s Las Vegas setting for inspiration, Sluis asked Parsad and Bannister to place their bets on some hot topics related to signal loss.

Regarding Google potentially joining the Unified ID 2.0 program, a possibility floated by equity analyst Laura Martin in an earlier presentation, Parsad and Bannister predicted there was no chance this will happen. Google said last March it wouldn’t support email-based identifiers – and they don’t think Google will change its mind.

On the likelihood of a federal privacy law being passed, Bannister said it’s probably going to happen, but Parsad was doubtful federal privacy legislation could overcome the usual gridlock in Washington D.C.

Will Apple deprecate IP addresses as a data point for targeting and ad analytics? Bannister said it will happen but take longer than we think, whereas Parsad made a bold bet that IP addresses are toast with the upcoming iOS 16 update and the wider rollout of the iCloud Private Relay feature.

As to whether CTV advertising will have addressable IDs, Bannister said it’s viable in the short term but not in the long term. Parsad was more optimistic: “There are some really smart people working on it, and we’re going to figure it out.”

Signal loss and marketing culture

Signal loss was a frequent topic of conversation at Programmatic I/O. During her presentation, Jana Meron, Insider’s SVP of programmatic and data strategy, stressed that more than 40% of the web, including Safari and Firefox, already operates without cookies.

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But the consequences of signal loss can be dramatic. “Frequency capping is impossible,” Meron said. “And consent management is going to be a challenge for even the biggest, most advanced, most technologically savvy companies.”

Since the future of advertising will require a “patchwork quilt” approach of stitching together anonymized signals and emerging ID solutions, marketers must prioritize hiring and training for diverse skill sets, Bannister said.

Signal loss will also force advertisers to work harder to prove their campaigns are working.

“The last 10 years, we’ve cultivated a pushbutton marketing culture as marketing solutions got easier to use,” Parsad said. “We’re trusting the dashboard and the feedback loops that are in platform.”

Marketers will have to invest more heavily in measurement solutions to attribute the impact of their campaigns going forward, he said.

Because of the profusion of so-called “cookieless” ID solutions on the market, ad tech companies should prioritize clear communication with publishers, Bannister said.

“I don’t mind the word cookieless. I mind the fact that I’ve talked to 100 different companies who say [their solution] is cookieless.” Bannister said. “It’s so hard to cut through the BS. [Tell me] exactly how it works.”

To cut through the “cookieless” sales pitch, Bannister recommended marketers and publishers ask ad tech vendors what their data sources are, where the data lives and who gets access to it.

Philosophically, all of these ID solutions are about “reducing the amount of places that data about consumers goes to,” he said, and the solutions that send user data to “as few places as possible” will win out.

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