The ways that brands, agencies and publishers can collect and process data to ensure campaigns deliver relevant adverts is changing. Regulators have set out new consumer laws around the globe to aid transparency, and platforms that rely on advertising are taking their own measures to improve privacy, such as retiring cookies over the next two years and allowing mobile users to disable ad tracking on their Android and iOS devices.
To discuss how these moves impact advertisers, Graham Mudd, VP of product marketing, ads at Meta, and Andrew Foxwell, co-founder of Foxwell Digital, recently took part in a fireside chat hosted by Campaign US editor Alison Weissbrot.
For Mudd, there is a clear message. “We know there is growing interest in – and sometimes concern about – how online advertising affects consumer privacy and Meta acknowledges that advertising must become less reliant on individual third party data. Our approach is to be clear about how our apps work and give consumers control over their experience, so we’ve worked with policymakers, regulators, academics, civil society, businesses and other stakeholders over the years to build tools that show people how their information is used and allow them to manage it.”
“It’s time to think about new approaches,” says Mudd. “I think the best way is through collaboration by companies coming together to figure out how we can evolve to become more privacy-sensitive. It’s something that is really important, and we need to do, to improve user trust.”
This move to embrace consumer choice on how their information is used means advertisers are relying on new tools to help them measure the success of campaigns and fill in the gaps where user data is not available. An example of one of these tools is Meta's Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM), which helps advertisers honor their customer’s privacy choices by aggregating, restricting, and delaying conversion data while also providing advertisers with the ability to measure valuable actions from those customers, such as a purchase on their website. Tools like AEM are helping to “fill in the gaps in underreporting,” Mudd reveals, and early indications from advertisers show they are working well.
Patience is a virtue
Foxwell oversees millions of dollars worth of advertising spend each month and also runs the Foxwell Founders membership association, which helps more than 200 advertisers and agencies get the best return from their digital marketing campaigns. In his experience, the new Meta tools are proving valuable in helping agencies and advertisers understand how to track campaigns. Getting “your tech house in good order” by understanding these new tools and how they connect is absolutely vital for advertisers who need to see the full impact of their campaigns. Foxwell reports that, when implemented properly, the Conversions API alone is showing uplifts (attributed conversions) of between 20-40 per cent.
This is helping advertisers navigate the move to privacy-enhanced advertising where conversions could get lost or misattributed – it’s considered a more reliable connection that respects consumer choices. However, for executives who are used to simply opening their ad campaign management tool to check on real-time conversions, Foxwell had some sage advice.
“The word of the day – and it relates to a lot of us – is patience,” he said. “You can't really make a decision before three days, in a lot of cases. And it's even better if you wait seven days, which is a total mind shift for a lot of people. It’s frustrating, because it's not how we've learned to do it. I think in the long run, this makes us better marketers, thinking through multi-channel thinking in the way we measure these things in a more holistic way, and not being overly dependent upon one thing.”
The need for patience is not down to regulation and changes in best practice alone, but is also due to Apple’s reporting API requirements, which delay and aggregate attribution reporting on iOS 14.5+ devices and taking more time than before to feed through data to advertisers.
While this calls for advertisers to be patient, Foxwell’s advice is that they should take the opportunity to slow down a little and rethink targeting while also getting more creative, with a particular focus on engaging, relevant landing pages. Some brands have become too prescriptive in who they think their target audience is, he believes, honing in on a tight demographic when it makes more sense to apply machine learning to define who the key audience is. This not only improves a brand’s marketing efficiency ratio, it can offer consumers a more relevant online experience, ensuring the targeting matches the creative and matches the landing page you send consumers to.
“It’s made us, as advertisers, look at the whole picture together and look at the way… you're sending someone into an ad, [then to a] landing page that's responsive to what you're speaking about. And that actually creates a better situation for the consumer,” explained Foxwell.
While advertisers need to be a little more patient and flexible, Mudd pointed out that this should be reciprocated by the advertising industry working together in partnership to develop the next generation of privacy-enhancing technologies, which support and respect people’s choices around privacy, alongside interoperable solutions that facilitate targeted advertising and accurate measurement.
“As an industry I think it's important that we come together in forums like the W3C and the World Federation of Advertising to build the standards of the future that will replace things like cookies,” he said.
“The three principles – transparency, choice, and data minimisation – need to guide that collaboration. There will be fits and starts and proposals will be made, and reactions will not always be uniformly positive. And that's okay. It took time for the standards we have today to develop and they were developed collaboratively. We're on the same journey now, for the next phase.”
It was a rallying call to avoid fragmentation in standards, ensuring that consumers receive the targeted advertising that research studies show they prefer, and that advertisers can measure results to optimise campaigns.
In the meantime, while standards are decided upon and brands are asked to remain patient, the overall message was summed up by Campaign US editor Alison Weissbrot: The tools and standards required to facilitate a new way of working are being collaboratively developed, but she said that for now advertisers must be prepared to remain patient while they work collaboratively for a little “short term pain for a long-term gain.”
Find out how Meta is navigating the new privacy landscape here.