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October 3, 2022


How ad measurement transparency can deliver wins

Turn the lights on with consent

Anne Hunter Avatar

Written by

Anne Hunter

This week, David Cohen, president of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) announced that advertising researchers have lost 50-60% of data for ad measurement, and "the industry is already operating with significantly less signal given the changes by Apple, Firefox and others.” It’s not the first time the association has warned of the upcoming changes to consumer data availability. In February, the IAB warned of an impending measurement blackout. Angelina Eng, Vice President, Measurement and Attribution said, “If we don’t diversify our approach to the market, soon we’ll be operating by the equivalent of candlelight."

Times up. Marketers today are flying blind with the majority of ad exposure data lost to them when they rely solely on identifiers like cookies or mobile IDs. To fill in the gaps, they have turned to other identifiers like IP addresses (which have even worse accuracy), or to email matches with dubious opt-ins. They’re getting desperate as their vision of marketing impact is dimming.

We need to turn on the lights. The industry can take another approach by proactively asking consumers if they will allow measurement… and providing them value for doing so. A transparent and equitable, consent-based approach solves the data loss issues and has the potential to open up access to much more data that is higher quality and more reliable. Brands can get the entire picture of consumer activity because consumers willingly share it. The industry must pivot from the “surveillance marketing” label we never wanted to something much warmer, “invitation marketing,” because it will be true.

In a rush to develop direct consumer relationships, some marketers have focused on building vast email databases of first-party data. While it’s wonderful to deepen relations with your existing customers, first-party data alone won't solve the problem. Why? Because your target customers don’t only shop with you. E-commerce retailers won't share their first-party data with you – and your competition certainly won’t. First-party data won’t let you see the full journey and so you are back to square one, with a big part of the path to purchase still in darkness.

It’s time to embrace solutions that deliver the consent needed to do right by consumers and provide a wider breadth of data to help marketers see the impact of their ads everywhere. When people voluntarily opt-in to measurement, brands will finally be able to see the impact of their ads on their brand, their sites, across search, review sites, competitors, and in e-commerce, all of the places people visit in the whole consumer journey. To make this happen, marketers should look for partners that already have a large audience based on consumer consent and can provide this level of intelligence.

David Cohen also proclaimed that “... consumers need transparency and control. We need addressability and measurement solutions that are privacy-by-design." These solutions exist today. Marketers should look beyond their fears of data loss and start choosing partners who can provide a total view of campaign impact based on data willingly and transparently provided by opted-in consumers. Digital marketing and ad measurement have a bright future. It depends on new thinking and not hacking through workarounds that perpetuate non-transparent data collection. Turn the lights on with consent.