Is contextual targeting a valid solution for ad buyers?

StopPress chats to Jane Ormsby, Managing Director and Vinay Shriyan, Head of Ad-Tech & Data at Scroll Media about alternatives to target users, Unified ID, and how eDMs can be used as a way of reaching people

As cookies are phased out, what are the alternatives to target users?

Most ideologies around this point towards a common identifier that would allow ad-tech vendors to target and measure digital ads. The more important question being how would that data be shared across and who would own it?

We are seeing a lot of testing in this space, to understand the best and most sustainable ways in which non-PII data can be shared for ad buying purposes and who controls where the data is stored. Post Google’s Privacy Sandbox initiative we also saw other initiatives emerge like AdRoll’s TERN (TURTLEDOVE Enhancements with Reduced Networking), Criteo’s SPARROW (Secure Private Advertising Remotely Run On Webserver), Magnite’s PARRROT (The Publisher Auction Responsibility Retention Revision of TurtleDove). Some approaches suggest that these data aspects would be stored on-device or on user browsers and others suggest they be hosted directly by certified publishers or trusted independent third-parties industry bodies.

There isn’t an unanimous consensus yet, but it’s not long till we as an industry will have one.

Jane Ormsby

Potential solutions include Unified ID. Can you talk us through this? 

Currently most discussions in the industry are circling around four potential solutions to third party cookies, Unified ID being one of them.

When a user logs into a website with their email, an identifier is created (basically an anonymised version of their email). The identifier regularly regenerates itself, ensuring anonymity and security. Now imagine this identifier not being just private to one website nor being controlled by a walled garden. At the point of login, the consumer gets to see why the industry wants to create this identifier and understand the value exchange of relevant advertising, in simple terms (unlike current cookie consent approach). They also get to set their preferences on how their data is shared. So, the user always has control.

What is a return to contextual targeting going to mean?

A crucial element that made cookies so useful is that they have been the de facto standard used by the industry and weren’t controlled by just a single entity. Every part of the digital ecosystem — advertisers, publishers, ad-tech vendors — used them and that’s what made them successful to begin with. We are seeing similar trends with Unified ID, starting with ad-tech vendor partners like Index Exchange, Magnite, PubMatic, OpenX, SpotX and Criteo who are all on board with Unified ID. Nielsen, the go-to for media measurement, is also working to implement Unified ID 2.0 as a core element of their upgraded measurement portfolio.

But until this successfully works across the industry, we feel contextual targeting (reaching the user in the right environment) is a valid solution for ad buyers. Essentially, ad buyers might see more value in reaching audiences across specific relevant publishers’ content pillars than having a hit and miss until all elements of the ad ecosystem move to a unified ID approach.

Vinay Shriyan

How can eDMs be used as a way of reaching people?

As emails do not technologically allow JavaScripts and cookie setting, they remain unaffected from the recent changes to third party cookies. Scroll Media targeted eDM solutions have high open rates and click throughs. Depending on your strategy, this could be a good option to reach your target market. We have seen promising results with ad buyers trying our Solus eDMs in conjunction with their current display strategies – a well complementing duo.

What does this all mean for users and their opinion of brands?

It may feel like we are going back in time to 2013, but holistically buying sections of publisher sites means we are targeting users showing the right intent. Scroll Media has worked with our trusted publishers such as Reuters.com and Healthline.com to ensure specific content such as sustainability, colds and flu, gastric health, pain management etc can be targeted by certain brands. It ticks the brand safety box and research shows that ads that appear next to relevant content get a high response rate and are viewed more favourably by the consumer in their path to purchase. A recent study by Integral Ad Science in the UK, September 2020, said 65 percent of users have a more favourable opinion of brands with contextually relevant ads and 81 percent find it important that advertising is relevant to the content being consumed. At the end of the day – it is about the user experience.

In association with Scroll Media.

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