Post GDPR, Are Data Clean Rooms The Answer To Accessing Walled Gardens For Programmatic Buyers?

As GDPR enforcement becomes a reality not only in Europe but also here in the US, advertisers are struggling to find a way to scale the walled gardens and optimize their data assets.

As of May 25, 2018, Google announced that DCM users will be unable to use cookies or mobile device IDs to connect impressions, clicks and site activities from the DCM logs, users will be limited to Google’s own Ads Data Hub for those metrics.  For some, this means that they are satisfied to stay within the Google stack but not every brand’s solution will be and should be limited to Google.  But if media buyers want to analyze their spend outside of Google’s platform and offer up any attribution, then just using Google won’t work.

“Some marketers who spend 75 percent or more of their budgets on Google will be fine just letting Google do the analytics,” says Alice Sylvester of Sequent Partners.

Google wasn’t the only one to lock down their platform.  In response to the combined pressure of GDPR and the Cambridge Analytica scandals over its handling of personal information, Facebook decided that it would shut down ad tools called “Partner Categories” powered by outside data brokers. Those tools let Facebook advertisers target ads at people based on third-party data such as their offline purchasing history.  This means advertisers will have access only to their own data and data Facebook collects itself.  If an advertiser wants to pull campaign-level insights to inform future campaigns or use the data for the basis of an attribution model then they are out of luck.

Introduction of Data Clean Rooms

Data clean rooms allow large inventory partners like Facebook and Google to share customer information with brands, while still maintaining strict controls in place.  Data clean rooms were named for the completely airtight rooms where microchips and other sensitive materials get made.  In this case, the rooms enable a shared environment between two or more companies that is completely secure from external access (no wifi) where each company decides the level of visibility to their data.  This eliminates the possibility of data leakage for companies like Facebook which caused the Cambridge Analytica mentioned earlier.

“We and a partner combine a data set with very specific rules and controls around how each party can operate within the shared environment,” said Scott Shapiro, a product marketing director for measurement at Facebook, who noted that Facebook didn’t invent the clean-room concept.

The concept is to create a safe space where data can be share and manipulated without leaving the inventory partner’s environment.  Specifically for Facebook, a brand can create an audience based on first-party data, like a list of email addresses and then push that list into Facebook, match it, and grab a copy which they can later combine with their data as the basis for attribution, measurement and modeling.
How it happens in reality is that an advertiser will lead a clean or wiped laptop or device that has never been connected to the Internet with that advertiser’s first party data, which in most cases is an email list.  A second clean computer is loaded by Facebook or Google with impression-level and non-PII campaign data.

Maybe, The Answer to Scaling The Walled Gardens?

For advertisers with a lot of data and substantial programmatic advertising budgets this is a great opportunity to scale the otherwise elusive walled gardens.  The data clean rooms create a safe environment for data providers to share the marketing data that brands need and crave to model future media buys and advertising strategies. If managed in the right way, with the right methods and standards, this would be the tool for brands to really understand their walled-garden ad spends within the larger marketing ecosystem.  For advertisers and publishers there is a lot at stake in the post GDPR world of data governance.  There is no room for unintended data sharing because the consequences are too great.

Marketers have been eager to get more insights out of Facebook and other walled gardens but it’s unclear how many brands or agencies will take advantage of this opportunity to get more out of their spend with the largest inventory providers.  From Facebook’s perspective they are not advertising the data clean room solution because if they gave advertisers too much access to data buyers might eventually become less reliant on their platform for scale and identity data.  But Facebook and Google also don’t want to piss off their advertisers because they are demanding more data so this is the solution that they can offer for brands that pressure them to giving them more insights.  There is still the issue of the manpower involved and the fact that the data is limited to a snapshot in time but advertisers who buy into this solution are fully aware of what they are getting and have to decide if the value is worth the effort.

Seattle Dinner, Drinks & Conversation About Programmatic Buzzwords: Transparency, GDPR, Attribution, Data Privacy and More

On Tuesday, June 5th, Digilant hosted a dinner panel in Seattle titled the “2018 Fast Track to an Integrated Digital Media & Marketing Strategy.” Digilant‘s Chief Executive Officer, Raquel Rosenthal, moderated a discussion on the evolution of digital marketing with the following local marketing and advertising professionals:

This is my summary of what was said and what I took away from the event and not word for word for how the speakers answered each question.

Raquel from Digilant kicked off the discussion with this first question.

What industry buzzwords or shifts do you think will impact digital marketing this year? For example: GDPR, Transparency, Attribution, In-housing or Blockchain.

David from Vulcan was the first to answer this question.  For him from all the buzzwords Blockchain is most likely to have a general impact on the advertising world and what we will probably talk about the most.  It fixes a trail of action and shows you how a fish gets caught before it gets to your plate. Transparency, attribution, GDPR, Blockchain will talk to all of that.  How we process the amount of data that we are creating will be huge. So Blockchain is my topic for the year because it will be huge.

GDPR to me, said Sharon from The Seattle Times, is like Y2K, a lot of build up and preparation especially in the media.  At the Seattle Times we talked to attorneys and thought it would be a bigger deal for us, but then all we really did is turn off retargeting in the EU. In the meantime, the panic of GDPR has made us all become consent monkeys.  AI (Artificial Intelligence) is one of the keywords I would pick, voice assistants are going to be a big deal.

Adam from Formative said that he is interested what GDPR will mean for the longer term.  What it will mean for advertisers who can’t retarget their visitors, paywalls cost more, publishers will make less money for premium inventory.  In the US we’ll get a couple of years to see how Europe deals with it before we do. Voice, Alexa and Google home, if we think how search has dominated the advertising space for such a long time and now voice interactions will be increasingly part of our lives, so it will be interesting to see what that will look like.

Transparency and in-housing are two big buzzwords we are reading about a lot in relation to programmatic media buying. But the reality is that most brands are not taking things totally in house but still relying on their agency partners.  Why is it such a buzzword then? Is it because of transparency? Why are people talking about it, but not really doing it?

David’s response was that there is an expertise related to the traditional way of doing things.  People are only bringing in some of it in-house because they don’t know how to do the execution part on a bigger scale.  Adam thinks that clients like to talk about bringing stuff in house like social and search but there is an expertise and value that comes from working across different clients that you don’t get from working in-house.  I personally came to appreciate what agencies can provide to their clients.

We haven’t talked about the customer experience yet, there used to be only 50 partner options in the ad-tech ecosystem and now there are 5000 so the customer experience is now really changing and Customer Experience Officer (CXO) is becoming a common job title.

I get the idea of a CXO started Adam, I get it, but it’s also what a CMO is responsible for.  The CXO is somewhat driven by Silicon Valley startups as an anti-marketing thing, that they don’t need to invest in marketing, and that their companies and products can be successful without spending money on marketing.  The need to focus on that overall experience, thinking about it holistically as a cross channel experience is a big shift. With the 5000 ad-tech partners there is no excuse not to present a better experience for the consumer.
Sharon’s answer was that customer experience is something we struggle with at the Seattle Times.  We sell advertising and subscriptions and have hundreds of ad calls. Advertisers are looking for a better experience for their consumers and to me It’s shameful that Google had to come up with ad standards with Chrome, all because publishers weren’t paying attention to the experience.

What about the silos of data? What are the consequences of these trends?

David was the first to respond by saying that he is having a very hard time with the amount of data we are getting.  It’s getting to the point where we can’t deal with the volume of data in a way that it will inform us in a nimble fashion.  We are not sure if we are pulling real insights from all these new great dashboards that are supposed to show us how to use our data, even if you stitch it all together, you have to know how to make great decisions from what you pull out of all the data.
Sharon said that they are trying to be very focused on what is driving that actual subscription. Their AI team is developing a subscriber influence score; they want to know what story or email they read before they subscribed. Building their own scoring system and own analytics so that they can answer one simple question: ‘what influenced that consumer to subscribe?’  According to Adam, nothing slowed the innovation of ad-tech more than Facebook because they don’t allow 3rd party ad tracking, something we could do before, but not anymore. GDPR is actually pushing us back rather than improving the user experience.

What do you think the impact of the announcement that Google just made, about no longer being able to export DoubleClick IDs, will have on targeting, performance and ​attribution?

David said that he thinks it’s going to affect all of those things. Google has been good at thinking of that end user experience because they have the data on that user and people will be forced to used their solutions because it’s most efficient and cost effective.  It’s more concerning for the advertiser but not for the end user.
Adam thinks that Google is trying to get ahead of the curve and make all the changes at once. People will start to complain about the crappy ads they get targeted with as it becomes more difficult for ad formats like native. Instead of being very specific to the user, contextually relevant ads will have to be more generic and not as targeted, because it’s going to hard to do much else.
For Sharon, from a news publisher’s perspective, they tend to trust Google more than Facebook for now and are taking the wait and see approach.

Are you or companies you work with investing in marketing attribution platforms and strategies and why yes or not?

David said that they are not investing in it at this point.  For right now they are not very interested in how the consumers converted but getting the conversions. They aren’t investing enough dollars to make the investment in an attribution solution.
Adam also said that they are not spending the ad dollars at the level they used to, so attribution has not been that important for them right now.  Attribution a bit passé, they’ve been hearing about for a long time and now walled gardens are making it more difficult. What’s going to become important for them is attribution between online to offline, people have smart TV’s that have data, real attribution will be really important when online and offline are not blurred and the consumers get a real experience.

Do you think that brands are going to continue to invest in social advertising or will they be more hesitant based on Facebook’s recent data privacy news or YouTube’s brand safety challenges?

There has been no pullback from social at all, even during the Zuckerberg trial, answered Sharon.  So yes, she thinks people will continue to invest in social. David said that when social platforms first launched they brought together people that weren’t able to connect. Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, are all free and nothing in America is free. People are going to remember that, so how do we keep it free, the benefits for the consumers will outweigh the data privacy issues. Adam thinks that eventually the pressure for data privacy will decrease as brands get more slack for data breaches. Facebook made a bunch of unrelated changes to their platform after their data scandal and people seemed ok with that.

What new digital ad formats or platforms have you tried over the last year?

David said that they have been talking a lot about podcasting, they are starting to dip into the programmatic area. People are passionate about podcasts and it would be efficient because we can narrow down the targeting to exactly who we want to reach.  Voice will be fantastic and huge especially combined with Amazon and Google e-commerce offerings, because they have so much data the ads will be even more effective.
Sharon said that this year they tried a couple new things, one of which was headline ads and was a huge failure.  Now they are trying to do more with native. For them the way they decide what to do is a little different than on the publisher side. If they try something new or develop something new it has to be profitable for the business. But if she was on the other side she thinks that she would definitely try something like podcasts.
Adam echoes the podcasts, but also SMS and messenger, because it feels like a one-on-one connection with consumers, more like a conversation and specific answers for their situation.

Again, thank you to our wonderful panelists.  We look forward to our next event in Boston, June 12th.  If you are interested in attending please reach out to us here: info@digilant.com.

GDPR Overload: Headlines That Programmatic Media Buyers Should Read

Our inboxes and news feeds are imploding with GDPR.  It’s like Christmas for your inbox, the more sites you are subscribed to the more presents you get this week.
Let’s be honest, don’t you wish somebody would open and respond for you?  How many of you have taken the time to open, read and opt-in or out of all those sites and or emails?

I’m more interested in having fun and following hashtags like these:  #gdprjokes,  #HappyGDPRday and  #GDPRToons.  But fun aside, for most non-Europeans, who are not in the marketing and advertising industry, their hashtags probably look more like  or more likely #GDPRnotmyproblem #pleasestopsendingmeemails. 

For those of us who, like myself, are old enough to remember, it feels like the Y2K panic all over again. While it certainly might be legit, it’s hard to really know whether the panic is real and what the aftermath will look like.  Some companies are taking the wait and see approach, while others have gone down the GDPR checklist and implemented it all, and some just gave up and shut their doors, mostly because of the cost of implementation.

Tomorrow is the Day, Are You Ready?

It does feel like most people are tearing their hair out or crying a little.  As they should.  The real-time application of GDPR is way beyond was most people ever had in mind when they first started collecting data for advertising and just the thought of throwing out every process you ever had and starting all over is pretty daunting which is why there are many smaller shops that didn’t even bother.
So who will be left standing after the bell rings tomorrow? Who knows? Hopefully more than just Google or Facebook.  Otherwise innovation in advertising technology might just come to a big stop.  I for one hope that’s not the case.

Here are some of the headlines I’ve been reading that are most relevant for programmatic media buyers:

Popular hashtags for GDPR information:

 

  • #gdpr #dataprotection#data
  • #gdpr #dataprivacy #compliance #dataprotection #eugdpr
  • #gdpr #privacy #datasecurity #data #cybersecurity
  • #gdpr #digital #tech #cloud #business
  • #gdpr #cybersecurity #infosec #blockchain #iot

For more information on the GDPR, its goals, what you need to do to be compliant, and Digilant’s commitment to the regulation, download our white paper below.

You can also check out our privacy policy or contact us at privacy@digilant.com to learn more.

Programmatic Media Buying 101: What is GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)? What Does It Mean For Digital Advertising?

Over the past few months, the GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) acronym has been thrown around often in the programmatic media industry, as everybody scrambles to define what it means for them and how to apply it.  At least on this side of the ocean, it seems like most digital marketers are still unaware of what the GDPR is and the heavy implications it holds on their programmatic media buying future.

What is GDPR?

The GDPR Transparency & Consent Framework was launched in Europe on April 24, 2018,  with the objective to help all companies in the digital advertising industry ensure that they comply with the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation, when processing personal data or accessing non-personal or personal data on user devices.
The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has recently established new requirements for companies that collect,use, and share data about EU citizens. As of May 25, 2018, all companies handling data of EU citizens must adhere to these new data privacy and security measures, regardless of whether the organization is located within the EU or not. After this date, companies around the world will no longer be allowed to collect or process consumer data from EU citizens without identifying their legal basis for doing so.  Not only that, but the same companies will also be barred from using any previously collected data if it wasn’t on-boarded with the appropriate notice and consent. Companies that fail to comply with any of these new rules and regulations could be subject to fines as high as 20 Million Euros or 4% of their annual global revenue.
However, the new European privacy policy affects more than just data miners and web developers and more than just European businesses.  Data controllers and any subcontractors will be obligated to maintain written records of their data processing activities, including why they’re processing the data and how long they plan to keep it and must be made available to data protection authorities upon request.  It’s crucial that digital marketers prepare themselves, because even if you’re operating outside the borders of the EU, if any of the data your organization collects goes through the region, then it’s subject to the legislation.

GDPR Starts Right Now

For digital marketers the changes will start immediately with websites. For example, we are accustomed to reading this message on many websites: “We use cookies to ensure that we give the best experience to the user on our site. If you continue browsing we will assume that you agree.” With this notice, or similar messages, the editors would be considered authorized to insert cookies for the visitor, but now, this will change. 
With GDPR, the copy used by the organizations to obtain legal consent must explain in a clear and concise manner why their data is being collected and what it will be used for, before it can be stored, processed, analyzed, and transmitted. When referring to personal or identifiable data, this that means personal data which is now classified as any information that could be used to identify a person, including location data, mobile device IDs and, in some cases, IP address. (Biometric and genetic data is considered to be “sensitive personal data.”)  Data that can be re-identified by data scientists or analysts with effort, by combining it with additional data points, is also considered personal data.

Article 4.1: “personal data means any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.”

What Does That Mean for Programmatic Advertisers on the Other Side of the Ocean?

While companies figure out how to comply with the new rules there might be a loss of momentum with data tech innovation.  GDPR will require programmatic advertisers to obtain active consent from users to use their personal information, and also give them the power to erase their accumulated historical data from any database they wish, thus being more transparent.
With the rise of Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence, there has been a lot of progress on the way programmatic advertising technology uses consumer data to provide intelligent and automated ad targeting. With these regulation changes we might see a halt in the progress made to enable automated and personalized advertising.  The implications of GDPR could somewhat restrict the extent of the role that AI-driven data insights and intelligence technology plays in the future. This will create significant challenges for the innovation of programmatic advertising.  That said, it is even more important today that programmatic service providers introduce other emerging technologies with the capabilities needed to address the goals of GDPR and ensure both secure and efficient advertising.
One emerging technology that could have a significant impact on programmatic advertising and how marketers deal with GDPR is blockchain. Blockchain has the ability to create a highly secure trading network for advertisers, by publicly storing data to create a permanent audit trail with an unchangeable record of all transactions that occur within the programmatic buying marketplace. This provides marketers with full visibility into their ad buy, to better track all transactions that are taking place automatically and a record of all transactions taking place throughout the ad-buying and selling process.

Possible applications for Blockchain to abide by GDPR rules and regulations:

  • “Do Not Record” personal data on a blockchain
  • Record personal data pseudo-anonymously
  • Encrypt the data on the blockchain
  • Store the data in a referenced encrypted database

What Else Should we Expect from GDPR?

Trust and transparency have been leading many of the conversations about programmatic advertising, and GDPR may serve to accelerate the industry-wide push for more accountability.  Blockchain is one solution but there are other solutions waiting to be discovered and tried out.  Over the next several months we will see more on how the EU applies GDPR in a practical manner, so the approaches and implementation of new technologies like blockchain should become clearer.
Programmatic advertisers, marketers and publishers may be held accountable for non-compliance by third party data providers, which means all players in the ad tech ecosystem will become more reliant on one another. What this also means is that the ad-tech ecosystem will be a lot pickier with who we choose as partners and how many partners and publishers we all work with. Contracts will need to be revised to ensure compliance, and for publishers it will be an opportunity to gain leverage to demand transparency regarding the data used by any of their partners or platforms.

For more information on the GDPR, its goals, what you need to do to be compliant, and Digilant’s commitment to the regulation, download our white paper below.

You can also check out our privacy policy or contact us at privacy@digilant.com to learn more.

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