Why post-cookie solutions need to put user privacy first

March 22, 2021 4 min read

  • Kristy Schafer

    VP, Americas at Permutive

  • During IAB ALM 2021, we hosted a session on “Balancing Privacy and Personalization in Today’s Digital Landscape.” The conversation included a spectrum of views from both the buy- and sell-side, and the overarching theme was privacy-by-design. 

    Our panelists included: Mike Nuzzo, VP, Head of Data & Audience Intelligence at Hearst; Trace Rutland, Digital Hub Director at Ocean Spray Cranberries; Michael Palmer, Global VP of Emerging Technologies at GroupM; and Benjamin Dick, Sr. Director of Product, Privacy, Identity & Data at IAB Tech Lab. Plus, an introduction from our Co-Founder & CEO, Joe Root.  

    Here are some session highlights:   

    Marketers will need to go from 1-2-1 targeting to mass personalization 

    To prepare for the departure of 1-2-1 targeting — when Chrome sunsets the third-party cookie — the industry is collecting and building strategies from privacy-compliant first-party data. Mike Nuzzo at Hearst said Google’s recent announcement, banning identifiers in the bidstream within its ecosystem, has “accelerated the notion of user privacy.” He told attendees that, as an industry, “we have to be more comfortable with the idea of mass personalization at scale — and how we start to do that at a cohort level.” 

    “Things just get a little creepier every day for your average consumer,” said Trace Rutland at Ocean Spray, acknowledging the need for brands to make consumers “feel comfortable in the digital space.” Since joining Ocean Spray a little over a year ago, Rutland made first-party data collection a priority, which can be challenging for CPG brands. 

    GroupM has been working with clients on that first-party data collection and capability too. Michael Palmer at GroupM said: “What we’re looking to do is to invest in various technologies to leverage that first-party data on behalf of our clients, to be as effective as possible, to get the efficiency, and the outcomes that our clients are looking for.” 

    First-party data owners will curate consumer preferences 

    The industry is moving towards direct and trusted relationships in many ways, not just between the buy- and sell-side, but between publishers and brands and their audiences. The panel debated who should collect first-party data and concluded that it lies with those who have a direct relationship with the user.

    Ben Dick at IAB TechLab said: “It’s brands and publishers who are going to be responsible for establishing that relationship, having a conversation about value exchange with consumers, and making sure there’s transparency in how they’re using data… ultimately they’re curating consumer preferences.” 

    Mike Nuzzo at Hearst said that there’s an opportunity to “think like a consumer for the first time and put ourselves in their shoes.” He said: “[People] don’t think about what audience they’re going to be put into, they just want to go to a site, read something, and move on with their day. As a publisher, it’s about how we make their experience better.” 

    Brands can “vote with their dollars to create meaningful change” 

    The migration from third- to first-party data has brought up challenges for marketers, but the decisions made by the buy-side will have a wider impact on how the industry operates in the future. 

    Ben Dick at IAB TechLab said that, “while there has been a lot of frustration, there’s also a fantastic opportunity to vote with your dollars.” He said: “Brands are in a unique position to raise your hand for certain types of solutions versus others, and push solutions that you see as being reflective of the kind of the values you want to see in the supply chain.” 

    “It’s the biggest reworking of the digital ecosystem that’s happened since it began in the late 90s,” said Michael Palmer at GroupM. He added: “There’s going to be a period of testing and refinement, and I think that everybody who’s involved in this needs to bear in mind that this needs to be done in a thoughtful and disciplined way.” 

    Trace Rutland at Ocean Spray is expecting this period of change, as privacy regulation and updates roll in. She said: “We won’t just have a plan A and plan B, there’ll be C and D to win… then we’ll figure out what’s working best for us so we can narrow it down.”

    Cookie deprecation is an opportunity to build a privacy first advertising industry, and requires advertisers to work closely with publishers, especially as privacy regulations and browser updates roll in. 

    The full discussion — including everything from clean rooms to cohorts —  is available to download on demand here.