Advertising Digital Publishing
4 mins read

How can publishers cut through ad tech hype? “Test, test again, and then test some more”

Earlier this autumn, WNIP visited a swathe of publishers and other industry specialists as part of our London publisher tour. During the two-week visit, we interviewed Lotame’s Chris Hogg who we last met in 2019. The aim? To find out where the industry currently stands in terms of identity, privacy, and first-party data.

At a time of peak confusion, where a multitude of data solutions exist in a highly uncertain market, we started by asking what solutions publishers need to focus on right now, in real time.

WNIP: The marketplace is crowded with solutions that promise to fill the gap left by third-party cookies, how should publishers decide which to adopt?

Chris Hogg: We’re long past talking about filling the gap as an industry and more focused on action. Google announced it was phasing out third-party cookies in January 2020, which is an age ago in ad tech terms. Vendors have had ample time to develop and test solutions, and they should be able to demonstrate results to back up their claims.

When creating an identity portfolio, publishers should be wary of hype and focus on what actually has a use case — and proof points — for them. That should always be the top priority.

In a market crowded with solutions all promising to be essential, the only way to cut through the noise is to test, test again, and then test some more.

Chris Hogg, Chief Revenue Officer, Lotame

WNIP: How should publishers be approaching data privacy?

Chris Hogg: We believe publishers (and consumers) would be best served by advocating together for a universal privacy and compliance standard that provides transparency for consumers and preserves their choices as their data is processed. A lack of uniformity reduces the portability of data across platforms and the resulting opportunities to increase inventory value, while also confusing web users who might be asked for consent five different ways across five different sites.

TCF 2.0 is the current standard adopted by the vast majority of publishers we work with, but slow uptake from brands and the Belgian court’s scrutiny of the framework means further revisions are likely. To protect their profitability on the open web, publishers must be proactive to ensure their interests are respected when these revisions occur, or risk handing further control over to the walled gardens.

Data privacy is not a problem to be “solved,” it’s an ongoing back and forth between the public, politicians, legislators, publishers, media companies, tech vendors, advertisers, and brands. It’s the responsibility of each link in the data supply chain — whether that’s a publisher, a clean room operator, a CDP platform, or an ID provider — to enshrine privacy in their data handling foundations.

Chris Hogg, Chief Revenue Officer, Lotame

WNIP: The rollout of data privacy regulation is picking up pace around the world, how does a global data company like Lotame handle this shifting legal environment?

What has been positive about GDPR is that it has become the de facto model for digital privacy law. The EU’s lawmakers did the heavy lifting in terms of legal design, and it’s paid off in a global perspective as we can predict regulation changes in other territories with high confidence and reassure clients worried about such changes that our solutions have been stress tested in a regulated environment.

As the EU and individual EU nations remain the precedent-setter in privacy regulations, their rulings — such as the recent decision in Belgium that found TCF to be in breach of GDPR — gives us a window into the likely future of regulations worldwide.

In effect, the EU serves as a sort of legal laboratory where we can see the effects of legislation on the ecosystem and ensure our solutions are designed around the results.

Chris Hogg, Chief Revenue Officer, Lotame

The challenge for us as a global data company is ensuring compliance as data moves from one regulatory environment to another. There are large, high-value audiences of people with international lifestyles where they might be in India one week and America the next, and despite supply chain disruption ecommerce is still very much global in scale. When data moves across borders, we need to make sure it is authorized to do so and find alternatives if it does not.

WNIP: What are your predictions for the future of digital advertising?

First is the maturation of the post-cookie ecosystem, which continues to gain momentum despite Google’s repeated delays. Browsers such as Safari and Firefox have provided a testing environment for third-party cookie replacements, and the publishers with significant traffic from these browsers have already implemented completely cookieless methods for inventory valuation.

Secondly, we’re getting strong signs of a closer connection developing between publishers and ecommerce, particularly with Amazon ad tech products designed to bridge the gap between media, ecommerce, and retail. We know publishers are exploring revenue opportunities in this area, and we’ve joined Amazon Connections Marketplace to explore the opportunities of cross-platform identity in their systems.

Finally, our latest ‘Beyond the Cookie’ research revealed that CDPs have fully matured into a solution that is performing well across all use cases and returning exceptionally high publisher satisfaction.

Clean rooms, meanwhile, seem to be in decline, with a third of surveyed users planning to phase out the technology in the near future. It will be interesting to see where these solutions eventually settle in the post-cookie ecosystem, and whether clean room satisfaction rebounds once its use cases are better understood.

Chris Hogg, Chief Revenue Officer, Lotame

WNIP: Thank you.