Advertisers are understandably concerned about the impact privacy-related disruption—from cookie deprecation to ongoing privacy regulation—will have on overall reach and effectiveness. But the results of this study highlight three encouraging themes that make me hopeful about the future of digital advertising and our industry in this privacy-first age.
First, brands and agencies are embracing the changes ahead with a positive attitude. Despite many still being at an early stage in figuring out exactly how they will ultimately respond to disruption, the overwhelming majority know they need to do more than the bare minimum to embrace a privacy-first age.
What’s more, most advertisers appreciate there doesn’t need to be a trade-off between privacy and performance. In fact, over two-thirds feel that alternatives to third-party cookies will ultimately result in better outcomes for brands, with better, more relevant customer experiences driving increased trust in the advertising industry. By taking action now, before third-party cookies become a thing of the past, advertisers have the chance to make sure this expectation becomes reality.
Second, advertisers are exploring a variety of solutions to help them reach audiences at scale, personalize communications, and attribute advertising performance. While it is particularly positive to see advertisers leaning into first-party data, which they see as the most effective alternative to cookies, they are combining this approach with a variety of other solutions. Typically, advertisers are exploring three to four options, including identity solutions, closer relationships with walled gardens, initiatives from Google’s Privacy Sandbox and contextual advertising, in addition to an increased emphasis on first-party data.
While our industry may evolve to a single identity standard in the future, there is likely to be multiple approaches in the near to midterm, and there are many interesting possibilities still emerging. That is why it makes sense for advertisers to implement and test multiple solutions, minimize dependencies, understand synergies between options, and understand what works for them. A multi-solution strategy is likely to yield better short-term results and help brands respond to future developments.
The third and final trend to convince me of the bright future of the industry is the extent to which advertisers are leveraging the knowledge of their partners. The vast majority are looking to external partners to help them on their privacy-first journey, rather than wasting time and budget developing in-house solutions without the necessary experience. To make the most of industry expertise, advertisers should look for flexible partners that embrace innovation and are prepared to support multiple solutions.
The future won’t be simple for advertisers as they push forward into the privacy-first age. Even with multi-solution strategies supported by trusted partners, they will need both flexibility and pragmatism to adapt to a continually changing landscape. They must take the time to step back and look at the bigger picture to ensure that, in all the focus on tools and technologies, they’re not losing sight of what they’re actually trying to achieve – marketing with reach and accountability.
The ultimate aim must always be to work toward a fair and flexible advertising ecosystem that respects and protects personal privacy while still delivering brand outcomes. That’s what we should all be striving for.