Marketers need to be asking the tough questions about their ad tech partnerships

There's no one single solution to the third-party cookie dilemma, which means it's time to determine what works for you, writes Quantcast sales director Darren Morton.

The conversations that have popped up during COVID homeschooling have made for interesting breaks during my work day. The question my young kids ask most often is ‘What’s your job?’ – or, more aptly put, ‘Why do you get to stare at a screen all day when I’m not allowed to?’  

After explaining to my daughter what I actually do for a living, she came to the conclusion that my job is terrible because “I hate those ads”.  

The internet as we know it is a democratic space for creators, educators, students, journalists, and consumers alike. Despite being disliked by so many in several degrees, advertising is the wheel that keeps this communal diversity alive and thriving.  

Advertising is necessary to encourage competition and innovation, but relevance and timeliness is just as important as messaging. We as an industry can do better by finding the right audience at the right moment to reach with our ad content.  

For years, the ability for us to reach those digital audiences lay with third-party cookies. With the impending demise of third-party cookies, however, advertising strategies must change. 

Whilst ID solutions are part of the bigger conversation with cookies going away, there is currently no one-size-fits-all solution that will allow advertisers and publishers to fully replace the third-party cookie.  

As consumer privacy is something all advertisers and publishers must navigate in coming years, the ad tech future is headed towards a combination of ID solutions, cohorts, and technologies that enable marketers, agencies, and publishers to truly understand evolving online behaviours and make better advertising decisions.   

Ad tech partnerships take centre stage 

As the ad industry works to develop a range of interoperable solutions that improve digital experiences in the cookieless future, the time has come for ad tech to take centre stage. This repositioning is starting to happen in partnerships that marketers or agencies have with their ad tech providers, and can be solidified in how ad tech itself works to ensure continued engagement with audiences and measurement of the impact of our advertising efforts.  

This will likely come down to these essentials: 

  • Marketers, agencies, and their ad tech partners should have the all-important first-party data conversation. What is the strategy to obtain first-party data? How can the data be verified and segmented to optimise personalisation? And how can the data be used to inform media planning and buying? 
  • Ad tech providers should be able to support modern advertising needs with advanced capabilities. This includes offering marketers and agencies direct access to publishers, data processing capabilities, and advanced AI and machine learning technologies that are able to deliver insights in real time, allowing marketing decision-makers to innovate on the fly. 

What should marketers look for in an ad tech partner that can help take them into the cookieless future? Here are a few questions to ask: 

  • What does your cookieless solution entail, and are you testing in cookieless environments today? Can your ad tech partner demonstrate proven experience in measuring advertising outcomes within cookieless environments (such as Apple’s Safari browser) now and when third-party cookies disappear entirely? 
  • How are you future-proofed for the changes to come? Change is the only constant in the digital advertising industry at the moment. Question if your ad tech partner is innovative enough to help you stay ahead in the next 24 months at least. 
  • How can you help simplify advertising for me? As more channels emerge, advertising is becoming more complex. The right ad tech partnerships make it easy for advertisers to get back to what they do best–strategy, creativity and driving results–instead of being bogged down by time spent on activation and manual optimisations. 

The shifts that are happening in the ad tech space are not new. The digital industry continues to evolve at an exceptional pace, now encompassing more than just the traditional online environment with the rise of connected TV (CTV) and digital out of home (DOOH), along with increasingly stringent privacy regulations.  

One thing is for certain, though: we can’t move forward in silos. Brands, agencies, and publishers must work together to figure out solutions that will help digital advertising continue to be effective and provide better consumer experiences. 

And whilst change can be challenging, ultimately if consumers’ rights to privacy and the articulation of the quid pro quo of the internet is understood and thoughtfully managed by the many (and not the few), the digital advertising ecosystem will continue to be an exciting industry that provides good and delightful advertising experiences–ones that even my daughter might eventually come around to.  

Darren Morton is the sales director – VIC and SA of Quantcast.


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