European calls for ad tracking limits

European parliament is supporting ad targeting limits after adding new clauses to the draft Digital Markets Act (DMA), which will apply to those with turnover of over €8bn in the European market and valued at over €80bn.  Whilst still only a draft the key elements will mean that big tech platforms have to ensure additional consent and enhanced protections for children, which could lead them towards more contextual ad models.

The text says that a gatekeeper shall, ‘for its own commercial purposes, and the placement of third-party advertising in its own services, refrain from combining personal data for the purpose of delivering targeted or micro-targeted advertising’, except if there is a ‘clear, explicit, renewed, informed consent’, in line with the General Data Protection Regulation…In particular, personal data of minors shall not be processed for commercial purposes, such as direct marketing, profiling and behaviourally targeted advertising.

IMCO (Internal market and consumer protection)

Given that Britons are uneasy with third parties tracking habits for tailored ads it’s no surprise to hear the UK privacy watchdog warning against tracking.  According to YouGov, approximately two-thirds of Brits are uncomfortable with ad & media companies tracking their browsing and social media habits for more relevant ads.  Other insights from the study included that ads that entertained were more engaging than those demonstrating product benefits; whilst 61% would rather not have third parties tracking their habits even if it means future ads are not tailored to their likes and interests.

Brits feeling uneasy about tracking comes at a time when the outgoing head of the ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) set out a range of data protection and privacy “expectations” including user choice of receiving ads without personal data, as well as increased transparency & clarity on how data is processed.  Most of the expectations seem to reiterate what is already in law or being campaigned for, though Commissioner Elizabeth Denham calls out Google’s Privacy Sandbox as a positive for the future:

Currently, one of the most significant proposals in the online advertising space is the Google Privacy Sandbox, which aims to replace the use of third party cookies with alternative technologies that still enable targeted digital advertising.

Elizabeth Dunham, Information commissioner, ico

Interestingly, Google’s Privacy Sandbox got a provisional green light from UK watchdog after they committed to making amendments including increased oversight – and reporting to – the CMA, more transparency in the development of their proposals, and clarity on internal limits on the data that Google can use for ad targeting & measurement.

Publishers testing alternate identifiers to meet buyer needs and privacy compliance

In a recent webinar hosted by The Drum and Nano Interactive, a panel discussed how advertisers and publishers can thrive in the identifier free future.  The key themes to emerge from this were based around no one-size-fits-all approach with the industry needing to test and work together with a range of solutions including first party cookies, anonymised first party identifiers, cohorts and contextual.  Ultimately there’ll be a spectrum of addressability that in different environments will require using different options in order to maximise the results for both publishers and advertisers, whilst maintaining the all important privacy-first approach.

For instance; in Kantar’s latest predictions, they revealed 59% of advertisers are concerned about the inability to track online media via cookies, whilst also noting that for 2022 and beyond there’ll be a “portfolio approach” to replacing cookies.  Similarly, Criteo released some recent findings into marketers’ plans for cookie replacement with top focuses including getting the best out of their first-party datasets by enriching them using external partners (43% of marketers), contextual targeting (40%), and aggregate panel data (39%).

Publishers are testing alternate identifiers in advertising deals, according to Digiday+ research, with 13% testing just 1, nearly 50% testing 2-5 alternatives, over 7% testing 6-10, and 1% even testing 11+.  For many, the core of data strategies going forward revolves around first party data, for instance Warner Music became the latest publisher to launch its own first party media platform.  Contextual is another key ingredient of the future of identity with the latest examples including The Guardian’s new contextual ad model in Australia, as well as content recommendation platform Outbrain acquiring Video Intelligence – a video context tech company – which will also bolster their CTV ambitions.

Other interesting reads

Positive signs for ad spend

As 2022 predictions continue to be made, several industries expect to see ad spend continue its recovery.  For instance; US retail media will pass $40bn in 2022 as ecommerce retailers shift to monetising off-side advertising; travel ad spend will grow 36% in 2022 though challenges remain for travel brands; US media & entertainment ad spend will surpass $23bn in 2022 and $26bn by 2023.

Subscriptions to become more challenging?

Whilst subscription have become increasingly sought after this hunger for new subscribers is driving down prices, which could have negative implications.  It was a topic that came up in Carbon’s recent Sub/Zero panel discussion whereby as acquisition costs grow those competing to be on the limited list of a consumer’s monthly subscriptions may slash prices.  As well as undervaluing their own content, it can have a long term effect on those that paid the full price for the same subscription who may choose to ditch it.

Carbon RMP yields strong results for Hive

South African-based Hive Digital Media have been leveraging Carbon to surface high value audiences to drive above average CTRs and campaign performance, as well as a 255% increase in targetable audiences versus their previous DMP.


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