The onset of online data privacy reformation has encouraged nations to legislate for consumers’ rights to their online activity and presence. Regulations such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) are accompanied by technology norms such as the App Tracking Transparency (ATT) by Apple and the deprecation of third-party cookies by Google. While India is yet to enact the draft legislation, similar regulations are in the works around the world.
This has led to the formation of a cottage industry around consent management and universal IDs for advertisers, while inconvenient consumer processes mean that most don’t opt out of online tracking. Simultaneously, compliance with the regulatory requirements can often be cumbersome for smaller independent players, which further paves the way for walled gardens that run on first-party data and self-attribution.
Need for a rethink
Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) becoming an opt-in service is a direct hit on publishers’ revenue from iOS-based devices and has made media buys more expensive for all purchasers. Yet most advertising plans for the post-device identifier world tend to struggle from two large disconnects:
- The existing browser-first identity (ID) workarounds will not work in the mobile app ecosystem anymore;
- Use cases of Universal IDs tend to focus on consumer targeting without paying due attention to measurement and attribution.
There are three important areas we need to focus on:
Think consumer-first: Most ID solutions do not prioritise the in-app world with a proper understanding of the consumer. For instance, the solution of adopting hashed emails (HED) as the common currency is limited by the lack of universal coverage of emails in user profiles for apps in categories such as gaming. Hence, the solution must include potential alternate parameters that can be bolted onto HEDs.
Balkanise IDs: A permanent universal ID is still incompatible with customer privacy as the goal. Advertisers and publishers could struggle to survive if there are a lot of temporary identification options available. The best outcomes will possibly come from a mix of various identification solutions.
Measure and attribute: Regardless of the choice of a universal ID, measuring campaign performance will lack environment specific reconciliation and attribution data will flow aggregated without precise stamps of location and time. Therefore, advertisers may need to update their tech stack and reporting systems to analyse unaggregated and non-standardised data varying across ecosystems and geographies. Publishers too, need to think about creating “privacy-first” client-side environments where anonymised media buying and easier measurement and attribution go hand-in-hand due to the run-time information flow.
The IDFA deprecation and impending deprecation of third-party cookies and ADID by Google makes it imperative for the advertising industry to focus beyond targeting to pave the way for a new era in the ecosystem with identity resolution.
The author is SVP & GM, Consumer Platform Advertising, InMobi