What’s the difference between annoying SPAM and a genuinely useful digital experience? The answer is personalisation. Poll after poll shows that consumers love personalised content delivered by their favourite brands. According to one recent study, 43% of consumers say it is important that the ads they see online are personalised across factors such as geography, interests and behaviours. This is good news for brands because, as a study by Epsilon found, 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase when brands offer personalised experiences.
So yes, people love content that has their needs in mind and which is relevant to their unique context. However, one thing they don’t like is creepy surveillance capitalism. A survey by security company RSA found that just 17% of US and European internet users believe it ethical to track their online activity for the purpose of personalising ads. Just 25% think it is ethical either to tailor news feeds or make purchase recommendations based on browsing history.
The personalised advertising conundrum
It is a conundrum. How to offer personalised content and experiences that people can really engage with, without tracking them or impinging on their privacy? It is a question that has come under increasing focus since the passing of the EU General Data Protection Regulation and other similar regulations in a number of jurisdictions worldwide.
Today, we are entering a new era for the internet, one where people’s privacy takes precedence over the ability of brands to offer personalised content and experiences. The third-party cookies and Mobile Advertising IDs (MAIDs) that were the fuel for personalised digital experiences up until now are problematic. Not only do they track users across the web, but they also enable third parties unrelated to a brand a consumer is engaging with to track that consumer. It’s little wonder that tracking cookies and MAIDs are being diminished and will possibly disappear altogether before too long. The great age of personalised content appears to be over.
Only it can’t be. The adtech ecosystem has grown over the years to become a well-oiled machine of innovation. If people want personalised experiences, and they clearly do, then the market will respond. What we’re seeing isn’t the end of personalisation, but it is the end of personalisation based on tracking people around the internet, and that can only be a good thing.
A new model for ad personalisation
So, what will replace it? Already there are strong contenders emerging, but given the confines of data privacy regulations only a few will be able to deliver content and context-relevant experiences that are truly privacy-centric.
One such approach is the use of telco-verified IDs as a privacy-first alternative for the ecosystem. Here, publishers and brands use their first-party cookies to verify consented users behind the telco firewall to create a 360-degree profile with no personally identifiable information (PII) exchanged. These profiles can then be used to create audience cohorts that are activated in real-time using a second dynamic transaction ID, enabling brands to bid for slots for specific audiences.
This method lies behind Novatiq’s Fusion Platform, which generates and activates the company’s Zenith and Hyper IDs in collaboration with telco partners. Through this approach, the full benefits of being able to personalise content and experiences at scale and in real-time can still be realised, but crucially it is done without any PII being transacted over the adtech ecosystem.
What’s more, the approach puts customer consent front and centre. Consumers need only give their consent to publishers for their telco intelligence to be used for verification, and can revoke that consent at any time. When it comes to the use of first-party information for audience activation customers can activate or deactivate the use of their information at any time simply by instructing the relevant brand, publisher and/or telco.
The programmatic ecosystem has given brands, publishers and consumers a lot of value. We have moved away from the days of “spray and pray” adverts and can now enjoy online experiences that are relevant to us. But the old ways of getting user intelligence are no longer fit for purpose. People understand that their privacy is worth more than that. The good news is that we don’t have to choose between personalisation or no personalisation. With telco-verified IDs we can enjoy all the benefits of relevant, tailored experiences with none of the downsides to our privacy.