Privacy comes first

June 24, 2019 4 min read

  • Joe Root - Co-Founder & CEO

  • This is a follow-up to my article in Admonsters “What is Edge Computing?”

    Privacy is now paramount and is fast becoming the single most important macro trend in adtech, one that will dominate the next decade. It can no longer be gamed: when the largest company in the world and the EU tells you to change, you have little choice but to comply. When the very foundations of a $120 billion industry are at risk of being demolished, everyone suddenly starts to pay attention.

    Google and third-party data providers have the most to lose. They’ve pushed publishers to the bottom of the pile by aggregating and selling their users and their data. But Apple’s ITP has called a halt to this. By killing the third-party cookie it’s shattered the adtech ecosystem and its understanding of the user into 1000s of publisher-sized pieces. This presents publishers with an enormous opportunity. The opportunity to rebuild the adtech ecosystem and regain their rightful place within it. In this new world, they’re the only ones left with the data.

    This is a huge opportunity for publishers. They have a unique direct relationship with the user, and as a result, they have the legal and technical ability, to process this data. Third-party data is a $19 billion industry in the US alone! Not only is this a huge revenue opportunity, but it’s also a chance for publishers to rebuild an adtech ecosystem which fairly values their contributions. But to remain on the right side of history, this has to be done in a way which puts users’ privacy first. Fail to do that, and publishers will fail to reestablish their rightful position within the ecosystem.

    To act on this opportunity publishers need technology built for them, and equally as importantly, technology built from the ground up for privacy. The cloud by its very nature isn’t capable of this—it stands opposed to privacy—but edge computing is. The global tech giants have recognised this. Apple rebuilt itself for the edge four years ago and Google has spent the past 12 months rearchitecting its infrastructure for it.

    What is edge computing?

    Today, the majority of the world’s data is produced on devices like mobiles and tablets but is processed in the cloud. This causes a huge number of problems related to issues such as speed, cost, resilience and accuracy.

    The answer edge computing, is a relatively unused term in advertising today. At its basic level, edge computing is computing that takes place at or near the source of the data, instead of relying on the cloud to do all the work.

    What does this mean for the advertising industry?

    For a publisher it means that you can process data on the device that generates it, rather than a remote cloud server. By doing this you are able to minimise the data which leaves the user’s device and protect their privacy.

    What are the benefits of edge computing?

    For any publisher, this is becoming the only way to process data in a privacy-compliant way. User data is (by design) protected because data never has to leave their device. This means a publisher can process data in a world without cookies and increasing government regulation (even under its strictest interpretations) but most importantly it means they are future proofed for a world where privacy is no longer a nice to have but the only way to do business.

    The benefits of edge computing go way beyond just privacy too.


    The speed of processing trends towards 0 milliseconds with no network requests. There is literally no latency. This means a publisher will be able to understand and target their passerby traffic in real time.


    Publishers can deploy highly-accurate models trained on device with access to 100% of data, not the samples commonly used today.


    Cost is reduced exponentially as computation is distributed across free edge resources. This gives publishers the freedom to do much more than they currently can with the cloud.


    Sounds small but is significant, processing continues on device even when the network/cloud goes down. Think about how this can affect mobile users.

    Edge Forward

    Four years ago, we rebuilt the DMP for the edge, and in doing so we built the only DMP capable of being truly privacy compliant — a user’s data never has to leave their device. This means we work in a world without cookies and we adhere to GDPR under its strictest interpretations.

    In the here and now not only have we protected our customers from the tidal waves of privacy—Apple’s ITP, the EU’s GDPR—we’ve enabled them to build thriving businesses on top of data. We’ve helped our publishers creates $100s of millions of dollars in revenue which didn’t exist previously.

    But this is just the start, we’re working hand in hand with our publishers to rebuild an adtech ecosystem which reinstates their rightful place and gives them a fair share of the $120 billion industry which has been built on top of them.