"The Sell Sider” is a column written for the sell side of the digital media community.
Today’s column is written by Jordan Grossman, EVP of ad sales at GasBuddy.
Remember back in the day when advertising was as simple as putting an ad up where you knew your target audience was going to be? It looks like those are the days we’re heading back to, and it’s not a bad thing.
Apple’s upcoming IDFA restrictions understandably triggered trepidation across the advertising industry. For years, those of us in the digital ad world have heavily relied on tracking technology to feed relevant ads to users, and that comfortable status quo now is on the cusp of a big change.
This does not mean advertisers can no longer get their brand in front of their desired audience, though. In fact, they can do it without even having to invent something new. Namely, by going back to the roots of advertising. It’s time for a contextual revival.
Context matters more than ever
At base, Apple’s privacy changes will impact an advertiser’s ability to leverage audience segments for targeting. Audience targeting unlocked huge potential because it allowed advertisers to show relevant ads, regardless of where a user appeared. With the pending demise of IDFA, however, this form of advertising will become challenged.
As a result, we expect more advertisers to lean in on direct partnerships with owned and operated publishers and platforms, environments where they know who they're messaging based on the context.
The big question to ask will move from “where has my audience been?” to “where is my audience now?” This will eventually create a more cohesive, native experience for the user because ads they see will fit into what they are thinking about at that very moment.
Here are three easy steps to consider if you currently rely heavily on audience targeting:
- Think about who you would like to reach – for example, running aficionados.
- Consider in which context your brand is most relevant to said audience, say, when browsing sports content.
- And choose who gives you access to said context. Sports news sites would make logical sense.
Measurable results can still happen
But what about measurement, you ask?
Don’t worry. The demise of IDFA does not mean that all reporting goes out the window. Although user-level tracking and attribution may become a thing of the past, you can aggregate campaign success in the form of engagements, clicks, store visits or app downloads. The ability to do this is not going away.
Apple’s changes also return power to the content of reputable publisher apps vs. third-party data aggregators, which makes for a more transparent view into targeting and reporting. In the past, very rarely did publishers or advertisers get a view into how IDFA-based segments were being sourced, refreshed or resold, which led to potential credibility concerns. All of this further justifies the need to hit the reset button on mobile app targeting and attribution methods.
Remember, privacy is a good thing
Advertisers may be experiencing a prolonged IDFA headache, but it’s important to remember that the ultimate goal here is to put more control over data and privacy into the hands of users.
People who share location or other device-level data with websites and apps that request it, for example, will continue to do so – provided there is a fair value exchange. Requesting location data in order to surface nearby fuel prices is a utility that a user is likely to opt into, whereas requesting device-level data for the sake of using a photo editing or flashlight app might not be something a user is keen to do, if they know it’s happening, of course.
The evolution toward an IDFA-scarce world encourages the development of solutions that can benefit all stakeholders. Like the old days of advertising, it will require some research to find the right partners, but it also has the potential to yield better results for all parties – the advertiser, the publisher and the user.