Technology, cookieless, data footprint

Eyeota x IAB: Shifting Consumer Perceptions Toward Data as a Commodity

By: Georgina Bankier, Director, Commercial Development, Asia Pacific, Eyeota

Georgina Bankier headshot

As consumers, we are more conscious than ever that the online content we ingest is not free but fueled by the trading of our data as a commodity. Consumers are leveraging this in order to demand a fairer value exchange for the data asset they possess. As with recent changes in online data privacy, the sharing of our data footprint is now more of a choice and is exercised with the expectation that value will be returned, whether that be personalised advertising and content, faster purchasing processes, or exclusive promotions and offers.

The reality is that for the advertising landscape a catalyst of change has ensued, altering the fundamental ways in which valuable customers can be tracked and targeted with relevant messaging: the industry’s primary objective. Examples of recent technological announcements that reflect contemporary consumer views on data, such as Google’s depreciation of third-party cookies and Apple’s updated IDFA collection process, are triggering a domino effect. At the end of the chain are those publishers’ data monetisation methods, often vulnerable to the challenge of being able to adapt quickly to new solutions. It is not entirely doom and gloom; whilst dominoes fall, space is being created for increasingly futureproofed emerging tech, who through the noise are developing solutions to enable the continuation of innovative data-driven consumer targeting.

At this intersection we ask ourselves; are the tech-giant pillars of this domino chain initiating change out of compassion for consumer attitudes, or (less romantically) are they simply taking advantage of this to outflank the competition? Aside from the motives, it is clear that consumer concern over web and data use has been increasing year on year. The Global Digital Overview 2020 report by DataReportal has shed light on what they have termed the ‘worry-wide-web’, stating we are more concerned about data privacy now than last year. Globally, 64% of online users surveyed are worried about how companies use their personal data, nearly one third of countries within APAC scored above this global benchmark. The same report illustrates the average global use of ad blockers is 49% with some of Asia’s largest markets such as Indonesia, Philippines and Malaysia high in the global scale identifying a clear negative correlation between consumer mistrust and targeted advertising. This report along with further damning stats to suggest a severe lack of trust and transparency towards the advertising industry suggest that If the likes of Google and Apple are in fact fighting for the consumer, their actions concerning tracking and targeting are highly welcome. 

Attempting to solve the plethora of limitations borne from such actions, making it difficult to obtain a consumer’s digital footprint in a way that enables accurate tracking across domains and devices, is an emergence of new tech and start-ups. Much of this technology is being built upon decentralized infrastructure, maintaining data in the environment of the owner as much possible and minimising data transfer. Infosum is a most recent success story, a global company stating to be the future of privacy first, consumer trusted data enablement and raising $15.1 million in Series A funding

Arguably initiating the concept of decentralised data store and usage is ‘federated learning’, which allows for decentralised training of algorithms that occur locally as opposed to centrally. A well-known example is Google’s GBoard predictive text feature, which essentially cancels the need for billions of personal data points being sent to a centralised server, instead federated learning allows for the algorithm to be trained on a user’s device, with data never having to leave. Siri voice command also incorporates this technique. One to watch is Google’s Privacy Sandbox, set to be a solution for a third party cookie-less browser and again attempts at reducing centralised data sharing. It also allows for some tracking as publishers are able to claim their multiple owned domains as the same first party data. However, some are sceptical  of such closed solution approaches and feel a more open source approach would be beneficial to the entire advertising ecosystem. Global audience data company, Eyeota, is in favour of an open source solution, opting for an ID agnostic approach working in conjunction with UID providers such as ID5 and TTD. 

Amidst thriving new tech are those companies now facing the prospect of significant overhauls in existing data monetisation strategies and established targeting methodologies in order to remain functional and crucially, profitable, as data for use in advertising evolves. Online publishers are one example of those often bearing the brunt of change who may either be too large to adapt new strategies with agility or too small to generate revenue required to invest in new, futureproof technology. A question yet to be answered is whether publishers will gain more by adopting industry wide identity solutions, such as universal ID(s), or by reverting back to a time of IO based transactions and private marketplaces. It is safe to say that data monetisation partners, including the likes of Eyeota, who have been quick to establish alternative solutions for the absence of 3rd party cookies, will assist their publishing partners during the transition. For those who can, it may be a time to lay foundations for a long-term, industry wide solution and reap rewards over the coming years.

There is little doubt that the relationship between consumer, the web, and online advertising is changing, but much can be said for the significant strides being made towards a privacy first, open ecosystem; one that aims to maintain data-driven targeting in a way that ensures consumers are increasingly comfortable. We can expect to see existing companies accelerate acquisition strategies, new emergence of tech and tech startups and it will be an interesting journey ultimately separating those rising from the ashes from those falling behind.

First published by IAB South East Asia & India in December 2020