Ad Tech News Roundup – March 2021

Trish Manrique News

At Sortable, when we come across news articles that impact our industry and other publishers, we share them with each other and chat about the implications. In order to expand the discussion, we want to share these articles with you and give our opinions on what we think it means for Ad Tech. Our hope is to create a dialogue around these articles and really dig into what each of them mean for our industry.

We have Mark Dixon, a Product Manager at Sortable, offering his take on the following industry articles:

Info is king: Study finds Americans simply want ads to tell them about products

New research released from GWI (formerly Global Web Index) finds that half of American internet users want ads to tell them about “product information.” The responses also include looking for ads to entertain them (39%), teach them something new (33%), be relevant (29%), or make them laugh (29%).

Mark’s take

Most of the findings here on what users do and don’t want to see with ads seem like they should be common sense. But studies like this tend to highlight areas where programmatic advertising has sometimes gone off track in search of scale at the lowest cost, rather than properly rewarding high-quality engagements between users and brands. There are lessons for both advertisers and publishers here, but publishers should strongly consider how to leverage ad formats within and around their content to help brands engage audiences in a relevant way. The likely shift to more ad spend on contextual targeting rather than cookie-based identifiers may help in this area too.

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FLoC Origin Trials Kick Off In The United States And Other Regions 

At the end of March, Google began origin trials of the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) proposal, targeting a small percentage of users in specific geos. However, the tests are not targeting users in Europe due to unresolved concerns about how FLoCs are compatible with GDPR.

Mark’s take

Google has made clear their plans to eventually expand to global testing of their cohort-based alternative to cookies. But avoiding the EEA at this stage does shine a brighter light on some of the concerns and questions about whether FLoC actually complies with privacy regulations and incorporates the privacy-by-design principles that are supposed to underpin the Privacy Sandbox. While Google will certainly look to control the narrative and position their proposals as something other than a privacy black box, community-driven solutions should take the opportunity to showcase more transparent offerings that truly respect user consent and provide publishers controls over data sharing.

Project Rearc One Year In: IAB Tech Lab Proposes Specs For Accountability And Addressability

The IAB Tech Lab, in partnership with PRAM (Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media) released a series of specifications and standards to address the development of privacy-focused alternatives to address the loss of third-party cookies and changes to mobile ad ID targeting. 

The four (4) specifications are:

  • a Global Privacy Platform to provide tools to support and adapt to regional privacy regulations
  • an Accountability Platform for auditing compliance with data standards and privacy restrictions
  • Best Practices for User-Enabled Identity Tokens 
  • Taxonomy and Data Transparency Standards to Support Seller-defined Audience and Context Signaling
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Mark’s take

There are a lot of moving parts here, and ultimately the success of these standards will be determined by adoption across the industry after they are finalized. But even broad adoption itself may not be enough. Can all the various players within the industry come together and demonstrate compliance to the satisfaction of regulatory bodies and the public at large? Transparency and choice for users in how their data may be used and controlled in first party-relationships are principles that resonate, but when it comes to execution, bad actors can’t be allowed to ruin it for everyone.

Quick Hits

Disclaimer: All views expressed in this blog are Sortable employee’s or other contributors. These views and opinions do not necessarily represent those of Sortable or Sortable’s product/product roadmap.