Jessica Goodfellow
May 14, 2021

Agencies and brands divided on impact of privacy on ad targeting

Media agencies have higher levels of concern and lower levels of confidence in their post-cookie solutions than brands and publishers, according to a comprehensive survey on privacy in APAC. Agency leaders from OMG and Mediabrands give their thoughts.

Agencies and brands divided on impact of privacy on ad targeting

Brands and media agencies are not aligned when it comes to the expected impact of tighter privacy rules and regulations on ad targeting, according to the findings of a comprehensive survey into privacy readiness in Asia-Pacific, conducted by Campaign Asia-Pacific, Forrester and the World Federation of Advertisers.

The survey, revealed on May 4 at the Campaign360 2021 conference, exposed gaps between the levels of confidence and preparedness for a post-cookie world among agencies, brands and publishers.

Nearly two-thirds (60%) of media agency respondents said stricter rules will make their targeting less accurate, but only 40% of brands agreed. One-quarter of brands think targeting will be the same, while 22% don’t know what the impact will be.

Campaign conducted qualitative research with agency leaders from Omnicom Media Group and Mediabrands to piece together the discrepancies.

Leigh Terry (pictured below), the CEO of Mediabrands APAC, says the survey findings indicate that some "are not fully ready for a cookieless world". He believes targeting will actually improve come January 31, 2022, when third-party cookies will begin to be extinguished.

"Across IPG we have been planning for this for some time," Terry says. "We feel very confident that our investment in data and our private domain identity solutions to activate 1PD will provide our partners with a significant advantage and improve the effectiveness of their media plans.

"If anything a brand’s first-party data will actually enable improved targeting—because deterministic equals more accurate—with customised measurement capabilities to further enhance, dependent upon advertisers’ specific needs."

Rochelle Chhaya (pictured below), the CEO of Thailand at Omnicom Media Group, believes the disconnect could point to a lack of understanding of what exactly the fallout will be once cookies are deprecated.

"Education and discussion on these topics is therefore crucial," she says.

She adds that the lower levels of concern among brands could signify their confidence in their agency partners: "Clients do continue to look to agencies to be able to best target the consumer in the most effective and efficient way, so I would say this is extremely positive to see the faith the brands continue to have in their agency partners to be able to deliver alternatives that work."

The number-one concern related to the phasing out of cookies is data availability and quality (cited by 48% of total respondents), followed by inability of targeting and personalisation, measurement, and balancing privacy with personalisation. Terry is confident these concerns will be addressed in the following months—for those that are prepared to make the required investments.

"Sloppy, inaccurate retargeting will be replaced by more accurate frequency management," Terry says. "This means an improved cost effectiveness for your media investment. Lots of impressions doesn’t mean it’s effective, and it never has.”

Chhaya agrees that significant work is underway to address first-party data requirements, and targeting and measurement in a post-cookie world.

"The biggest concern for a marketer is going to be how we continue to reach the consumer in the most effective and efficient way. The agency will play the role of providing alternatives and solutions and working with the clients to strengthen their first-party data. That is going to be extremely crucial," Chhaya comments.

"I definitely do not see the efficacy of online advertising significantly reducing, because it will still continue to drive the consumer goals. What we will have to ensure though, is building a measurement framework that can attribute its success," she adds.

But the survey found there is a lack of confidence among media agencies that they are able to provide their clients with the solutions they need to balance consumer privacy and personalised advertising. Only 11% of media agencies surveyed said they were able to provide everything their clients need; most (49%) are ‘somewhat’ confident in their ability.

"At the heart of that lack of confidence is a lack of understanding," Terry explains. "Specifically that’s coming from not understanding addressable buying, the application of data and how it’s managed."

Chhaya adds: "Confidence will depend on how much work is already being done in this area. At OMG our neutrality approach has allowed us to partner with multiple players in the industry to integrate and build an infrastructure that allows us to be confident in our solutions."

Chhaya proposes agencies need to invest in the following four areas to provide clients with the tools they need to succeed in a privacy-first world:

  • Building a strong first-party consented relationship infrastructure.
  • Neutrality of approach so that we can evaluate every solution and develop the best solution to match a client’s unique need.
  • Activation measurement to attribute success of planning solutions.
  • Building a globally consistent but locally sourced local data pipeline.

Publishers were found to be much more confident in their solutions than media agencies—29% said they can provide their clients with everything they need to balance privacy and personalised advertising.

"While publishers are more confident in the solutions that are being put forward, agencies also understand that there is no one-size-fits-all. There are several conditions that will impact the success of solutions: the consumer agreeing to sign-in to the different identity solutions; consumers not opting for email burners that will prove to be an issue; and lack of control on any further governmental regulations," explains Chhaya. "The onus falls on agencies to evaluate every option so that we can recommend to the marketer the best alternative and continue to deliver on client objectives."

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