Contextual targeting for intelligent relevance that respects data regulations

The benefits of contextual targeting, as ad buyers are decreasing or eliminating their spend in open auctions on ad exchanges.

Faced with restrictive privacy laws and regulations globally, major brand advertisers are turning to new forms of targeting, such as contextual targeting, to find and reach consumers.

Marketers believe “the looming threat of government regulation” is the top obstacle threatening their data projects this year, according to a report published in March by the IAB and the Winterberry Group.

Europe’s General Data Privacy Regulation (GDPR) has been in effect for over a year. A few weeks ago, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) took effect, which similarly restricts the ways that users’ data can be used and shared. Other U.S. states either have or are planning their own restrictive data-privacy laws.

In hopes of avoiding the government watchdogs’ ire, some ad buyers — leery of behavioral targeting that uses audience data gathered from third-party cookies — are decreasing or eliminating their spend in open auctions on advertising exchanges while employing other methods to keep reaping the results they need.

Working with premium publishers

Many are finding success with large premium publishers who gather first-party data on audiences and have permission to serve them targeted ads. (Users give that permission by clicking “OK” on the privacy notice that appears when they visit a website.)

“Data is a huge focus and area of growth for us over the next year,” Michele DeVine, Sr. Director Programmatic Partnerships at BuzzFeed, said on a recent publishers’ panel. “Users … are giving us a ton of rich first-party data as they take quizzes and [do] meal prep on [BuzzFeed food site] Tasty,” she said.

The New York Times, one of the most premium of U.S. publishers, cut off ad exchanges in Europe to stay out of trouble and was nonetheless able to continue increasing its ad revenue, according to Digiday.

“The fact that we are no longer offering behavioral targeting options in Europe does not seem to be in the way of what advertisers want to do with us,” Jean-Christophe Demarta, SVP for Global Advertising at The New York Times International, told Digiday. “We have not been impacted from a revenue standpoint, and, on the contrary, our digital-advertising business continues to grow nicely.”

A rise in PMPs and identity targeting

Marketers are also shifting to the more controlled environments of private marketplaces (PMPs), eMarketer said. By running through ad exchanges, PMPs can use data for targeting while strongly limiting the number of available URLs and advertisers allowed to interact on them.

In conjunction with this technique, the marketers are using Consent Management Platforms to help store and manage data on the consumers who have agreed to receive targeted ads.

Identity-based targeting is also on the rise. Marketers are working with platforms and publishers that require logins or have device IDs, targeting consumers who opt to receive such ad messages.

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