Privacy regulations and changes to the ways browsers and operating systems — namely those by Apple and Google — handle ad targeting and tracking mechanisms are causing upheaval across the digital ad ecosystem. To address these challenges, and push back on Google and Apple’s, leading ad industry associations and companies launched a standards initiative Tuesday.
Dubbed the Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media, the group said it was created to “advance and protect critical functionalities like customization and analytics for digital media and advertising, while safeguarding privacy and improving the consumer experience.”
Key participants. The governing partners include:
- Trade bodies: 4A’s, Association of National Advertisers/ANA, Interactive Advertising Bureau, IAB Tech Lab, Network Advertising Initiative, World Federation of Advertisers.
- Advertisers: Ford, General Motors, IBM, Procter & Gamble, Unilever.
- Agencies: UM (an IPG Mediabrands company), Publicis Media.
- Publishers: NBC Universal.
- Ad Tech/Martech: Adobe, MediaMath, The Trade Desk.
Bill Tucker, who is Group EVP leading the Data, Technology, and Measurement Practices at the ANA will serve as the Partnership’s executive director.
Principals. The group said an initial set of principals will inform its work:
1. Consumer privacy should remain a foundational pillar of the solution by providing consumers with meaningful transparency and controls, giving the marketplace the tools to understand consumer preferences and the ability to abide by those preferences.
2. Consumers should have access to diverse and competitive content offerings, supported by their choices to engage with digital advertising in exchange for content and services.
3. Business operations, including ad targeting, ad delivery, frequency capping, campaign management, analytics, cross-channel deployment, optimization, and attribution should be sufficiently supported and improved upon through better technological and policy standards for all critical use cases.
4. Solutions should be standardized and interoperable for consumers and businesses across browsers, devices, and platforms, subject to applicable privacy laws and guidelines and to the extent it is reasonably technically feasible, efficient, effective, and improved over existing technology.
5. All browsers, devices, and platforms should allow equal access, free from unreasonable interference, to the new solutions.
6. Companies that utilize the resulting solutions should follow industry and legal privacy standards, with strong accountability and enforcement for those that violate the standards.
“In the ancient story of the Tower of Babel, the city collapsed because its inhabitants lost the ability to speak a common language,” said Tucker. “The digital advertising industry faces a comparable challenge around addressability today, as recent changes announced by operating systems, browsers, and other technologies, if implemented, will significantly impact the traditional marketplace language of cookies and mobile IDs. The Partnership was created to serve as a collaborative forum for our industry to ensure addressability standards that preserve privacy, provide a consistent and effective framework for advertisers, and enrich the consumer experience.”
Why we care. With many unknowns about how digital advertising will function, particularly after Google’s Chrome follows Safari and Mozilla with its own approach to blocking third-party cookies starting in 2022, data management for effective targeting and attribution is the urgent initiative of the day. The Partnership aims to bring Apple and Google to the table to discuss approaches that work universally in ways that suit the industry. It’s a tall order — Google and Apple themselves are not aligned in their approaches to privacy, data and tracking.
The IAB’s own 2020 State of Programmatic Report perhaps points to a rosier outcome, however: “While there were concerns that regulations would negatively impact consumer trust of brands and limit brand profitability, those concerns have been largely unfounded. In fact, an unexpected benefit of regulations is that brands are now working with cleaner data. While regulations have culled down the number of customers who can be targeted, those that remain are more relevant and interested, resulting in a more effective ad spend.”
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