Post-Cookie Identity from All Sides: A Roundtable

March 11, 2021

The end of third-party cookies impacts publishers, brands, consumers and tech companies. How can each side work together collaboratively to use the deprecation of this legacy technology to improve the consumer value exchange and positively influence business performance? Hear insights from Andrew Smith, CPO at OpenSlate (Formerly of VICE Media), Travis Clinger, Senior Vice President of Addressability and Ecosystem at LiveRamp, and Jason Wolfson, VP of Product Marketing at Piano.

Read the Transcript

Ashley Deibert:
It may be hard to believe, but it's less than a year until Google officially deprecates third-party cookies. This shift will unquestionably impact publishers, brands, consumers and tech companies. That's why we've put together a really great fireside session to discuss how each side can collaboratively work together to deprecate this legacy technology, improve the customer value exchange, and positively influence business performance. And I'm really excited to welcome our panelists to the stage. Personally, I'm very excited to introduce Andrew Smith, because we used to work together at a great shot, but he's currently the Chief Product Officer of OpenSlate, and he's really responsible for the company's vision and product strategy. And he's been in the media and ad tech space for 25 years. Previously, he was the SVP of advertising product at vice media so he's been on on the publishing side as well. And then where we met, you know, when you ran product strategy at Grapeshot before Oracle acquired us in 2018. So yeah, great. Welcome, Andrew.

Andrew Smith: 
Thank you. It's good to be here.

Ashley Deibert:
Good to see you. And thanks for getting up early. I know you're on the west coast. Great. Moving onto Travis Clinger from LiveRamp, who is the SVP of Addressability and Ecosystems. He's responsible for leading the company's global digital advertising ecosystem strategy. He's also the co founder and board member of the advertising ID consortium advocating for people-based identifiers to be transacted across the internet. We have a lot to say today, Travis, welcome.

Travis Clinger, Senior Vice President of Addressability and Ecosystem at LiveRamp:  
Thank you. Good to be here.

Ashley Deibert: 
Awesome. And last from my team here at Piano, let's welcome Jason Wolfson. He's our VP of product marketing. He works closely with our sales and product team teams to drive adoption of the Piano platform. He also has a deep ad tech background, working for organizations such as Comcast, Pandora, Radio One, Flight; hi Jason.

Jason Wolfson: 
Hi, everyone.

Ashley Deibert:
Awesome. Well, thank you guys so much for joining us today. First, I'm just gonna remind the audience you know, please pop in your questions in the q&a. This is definitely going to be an interactive discussion. But let's get started with some questions that we went over. So we're like less than a year away from third-party cookie deprication. And it doesn't seem like, based on the data that's out there, that people are doing deep things to prepare, maybe that's a myth. But what are you guys seeing? Are people prepared? Are they going to be caught red handed without a strategy? What's going on in the world on the publisher and the brand side?

Jason Wolfson:
Yeah, I can jump in there. I think we've definitely seen at least, in the Piano world, and all the research that's out there that there definitely is a mixed bag. I think that what we've seen are brands and marketers are, I think, starting to realize that there is a need to quickly catch up and start to investigate. We saw that at the end of last year, and I think it probably started six months later than we expected. And then on the publisher side, I think as we're talking internally at Piano and hearing more from our clients, as well as conversations that we're having with other folks in the publishing and media space, I think that there now is kind of the "oh no" moment of realizing that we need to start accounting for this and actually be able to be set up for success, not just in six months, not in 12 months, but for the longevity of the business to make sure that we're as healthy as possible.

Travis Clinger:
And I think that to add to that folks have really started to realize how big of a change this is. You know, I think we initially looked at a cookie and people said, "oh, that's okay, I have my first party data. I have my DMP. It's just retargeting that's affected." And over time, I think both marketers and publishers have really started to dive in and say, "no, on a publisher side, this affects the majority of my revenue. Most of my inventory is made worse. The higher cpms are my inventory. I have a cookie but, when I don't, my CPM drops by 60%, according to Google." So on the publisher side, this is an existential crisis. If they don't get this right, they may not be in business in the next year or the next few years. On the marketer side, I think marketers have really started to dive in and say that I have 100 different tags running on my page. We represent all these different vendors, and all of them use third party cookies. So it's become a massive project to start to shift over. I think, you know, we're seeing some action here. But we really need to see the industry ramp up because, also, it's not that the end of the cookie is a year away. The cookie is already gone today on Firefox, on Safari, on Edge; in fact, 40% of the internet is cookieless. And we look at Google's timeline that's coming in January of next year; the holiday season is not the time to be making tweaks to your cookie strategy, your identity strategy, putting new code on pages, and testing new vendors. So really, marketers and publishers have six months before they enter the holiday season, and they need to be fully transitioned off the cookie or using both the discovery  cookie and a post cookie solution in that time and be ready to go. So it's gonna be a really busy next six months, I think.

Andrew Smith:
I think from my perspective, you know, I'm currently more on the brand side than I am on the publisher side and, in my role at OpenSlate, we hear a lot of concerns from brands and agencies around what are their strategies moving forward. At OpenSlate and in my past, it's more on the contextual advertising side. So a lot of marketers are looking to contextual advertising as a solution. There's also a lot of interesting options to have contextual interplay with a publisher's first party data strategy, which is something that, personally, I've given a lot of advice on. So there's a lot of tactics out there. And there's a lot of interest from marketers to work with the supply side and providers like ourselves to come up with solutions that allow for sort of a post-cookie solution. I think that, if anything, there's an overall industry momentum that's moving forward to solve this challenge as things become either siloed or potentially more difficult to rely on old methodologies.

Ashley Deibert:
Yeah. I mean, obviously, it's a hot topic. And you know, all sides are talking about it, but like we've all pointed out, it doesn't really seem like we've got a long timeline here. As we've all said, we've got six months. So where should everybody start? You know, I'm a CMO. And I'm thinking, you guys tell me, where should I really start to think about how I prepare for this move so that it's not, as you said, Travis, a holiday rush?

Jason Wolfson: 
Yeah, I think that there are five main steps. It's really thinking high level, and then how you actually execute on it. So I think it's first identifying whether you can actually collect that zero- and first-party data. And I think it's also important to understand the difference between the two. Zero-party data is data that a consumer actively chooses to give you on them, whereas first-party data is more of the behavioral tracking data that you're collecting. So you should really be thinking about that value exchange. Can you actually do that today? I think the second piece would be can you actually store that data and the consent provided from your users? So you should be thinking about, what's your tech stack look like? Do you have customer experience platforms in place? Do you have a CDP or a DMP? Are you leveraging a consent management platform to make sure that you actually have the systems in place that you need to actually store and continue to build and enrich those profiles that you have on your users? And then, you know, the final three things, from my standpoint: are you able to actually segment your audience and create subsets of users to deliver those experiences and expand your audience with look-alike modeling and things along those lines. And then how you also, in the future state, collect more data. So, you know, thinking about the customer journey is something that we preach at Piano all the time, and that goes well beyond taking them from being an anonymous to a known user. It also goes well beyond taking them from a known user to a subscriber or an engaged user. It's the retention and that relationship. And then the last piece, and I'm sure Travis can attest to this, is making sure that you actually have the ability to link with an identity partner, like LiveRamp.   It's you know, with cookie matching going away, we need other sources to be able to, not only link, but activate that data. And so I think those are really the five key steps to making sure that you're not skipping ahead to the transition to the actual end state. But you need to think about what's that transition period look like as well.

Travis Clinger
I would add a sixth set, which I think is start testing the solutions now. So I think you can start testing today. There are contextual solutions that work today; there are authenticated solutions that work today. You can start buying inventory; you can start measuring it, and you can start rolling it out on your market. So you don't have to go from all cookie to all cookie lists overnight. It is a transition phase. And I'd really encourage marketers and publishers to start exploring it now. It's going to be a lot easier if you test in April and May to then transition over the summer and into the fall than to plan out your transition without doing any testing. So something we're seeing a lot of is our marketers really leaning into starting to buy the people-based inventory. We're seeing a lot more testing on that. In this quarter, in particular, I think it was a wake up call with Google's announcement last week that now is the time for action. I think if there's one message I would want folks to take away from this is there are solutions that work today, and you should absolutely be planning as that is critical. But you should also start testing right away. It's really easy to take one campaign and say, I'm going to use a new contextual strategy on this. I'm going to try and authenticate a strategy on it. So these are actions you can take now that could be very beneficial.

Andrew Smith:
What I'm hearing also, and Jason mentioned this a little bit in what he just said, is that, solutions for providing accurate and effective targeting from the publisher side and from the marketing side are becoming increasingly probabilistic. And I think that, in the marketer's ears, can be a dirty word. You can still have identity that's modeled probabilistically, and you can still create look-alike models, etc, like Jason just mentioned, and map to an individual device through a privacy-compliant way. Contextual solutions are effectively probabilistic when it comes to matching the content to a user. There's just that that level of modeling that's always going to be in place in the ecosystem. Personally, I don't think it's a dirty word. In fact, I think, the probability of matching an impression with the right person and becoming something that's more of a link is actually okay. And that's something that, in many ways, inherently protects the privacy of the user. So in order to pursue the sort of next-gen strategies, you need to get your marketers and advertisers comfortable with the idea that probability results ineffectiveness. That means providing proof, looking at brand lifts, looking at hard media metrics to say that these approaches are efficient, and these approaches result in the KPIs that you're looking to achieve. So it's important to, one, have a strategy but, two,  be prepared to back it up with proof in ways that can fit within your media delivery workflow.

Ashley Deibert:
Yeah, absolutely. You know, there's been a lot of discussion, even in earlier sessions, and questions around the authenticated versus the unauthenticated users. And you guys have mentioned already what is really the importance of the unauthenticated versus the authenticated that we should be understanding as we move to this new world.

Jason Wolfson:
So if we think about what all of this comes down to, which is the deprecation of third party cookies going away, it really is rooted in the fact that we, as publishers, as marketers, as tech companies, as brands; we need to be building better relationships with consumers. And so I think that trust and consent are really at the core of everything that we need to do moving forward. I think that many consumers distrust ad tech and, as Brian mentioned earlier, there's also distrust within ad tech itself. So the key between looking at authenticated versus unauthenticated is really rooted in having that respect for privacy, and making sure that we are thinking about consent and the tools needed to do that. So whether that's how you go about collecting that consent, or how you store that consent, I think building those meaningful, respectful relationships with users is paramount. It's sink or swim at this point. And I think if we take the product side of something, and we look at when you're building an MVP for something, and you're testing it out; you route that MVP, and everything that you do from a build perspective is rooted in building what's best for the user. And I think we need to think about the value in authenticating our users, and what that gives the user. It gives them that trust, that privacy, and that ultimate personalized experience. In return, it gives marketers and publishers the ability to optimize for conversion or monetization.

Travis Clinger:
I couldn't agree more; we have to restore the trust. As an industry, we look at all these problems as kind of like a fun technical challenge. It's like, okay, the cookie is going away. What can we replace the cookie with? Like, technically, what can we do? And we come up with some really clever solutions, right? There's all kinds of ways that you could replace a third party cookie, but these are fundamentally avoiding the real issue. And we have to look into why is the cookie going away and Jason, to your point, we lost the trust of the consumer. Ad tech hours, the open Internet as we enable the free flow of information across the internet, from publisher to marketer, and then allow consumers to browse unlimited free content. That's pretty cool. But we don't tell that story to the consumer. When the consumer thinks of ad tech, they're like, "the lamp that I looked at once keeps following me around." And so I think, to Jason's viewpoint, as we look at unauthenticated and authenticated users, we have to make sure that both of them really lean into the consumer dialogue and restore that trust. We've got an opportunity to build a better opening on it, and to go to one that is rooted in a trusted value exchange. But you know, as an industry, we have to reject other solutions and say, we're going to focus on authentic IT, and we're going to focus on scalable solutions that also put the consumer first instead of thinking of the marketer, or the publisher, as our primary user. We always have to think of the consumer first as we're building products,

Andrew Smith:
I usually use the example of the trash can I was looking for, for my kitchen, or the pair of shoes that follows me and, remember, that we're all consumers of digital media. We all experience what it means to be impacted by advertising. And I couldn't agree more that history cannot repeat itself, right? We can't break the consumer's trust. You know there's also an opportunity here for publishers to be more front and center when it comes to having that dialogue and owning some of the conversation with marketers. And I think that means a closer relationship with brands and sellers of advertising and with publishers, which is a good thing. Hopefully, the net result is that the end customer, which is really the publisher's bread and butter, is protected. And that there's a value exchange and a relationship built upon trust.

Ashley Deibert:
So how do we, as an industry, start to rebuild that trust with consumers? Because I think we all wholeheartedly agree. So what are the steps to getting there? I mean, Travis, you mentioned rejecting solutions that don't help us reach the goal of rebuilding trust. But I think marketers and publishers, need to understand how to do that.

Travis Clinger:
Yeah, so I think it really starts with leaning into that zero- and first-party data. So leaning into those consumer relationships, and being very transparent about how you use the consumer data. So, you know, we really see two standards out there. There are the authenticated solutions and the unauthenticated solutions. For authenticated solutions, it's going to probably be a minority of total internet traffic, probably somewhere in the neighborhood of 30%. But it is the gold standard. It's going to give you a market experience comparable to the walled gardens, that one to one person-based targeting that's 100% measurable. But to have those authentications, you have to get the consumer to share their email address. So first and foremost, we need to make that value change really clear. "I entered my email, so now what do I get?" I think the New York Times did an amazing job about a year ago, when COVID was just on the rise, they came out and they said all of the COVID content is free. All you have to do is provide your email address, which is great, because they get to then reach out to those folks to say, hey, you love reading the New York Times COVID content so you should probably buy a New York Times subscription. They also get to personalize the ads for those folks. And all of the people doing that, they're getting valuable content that they really want. So I think publishers and marketers must ask the question how do they make it clear to the consumer that there's real value in that consumer sharing their identity. As publishers, we're benefiting from a pop-up, or maybe I'm giving away free content or sending a valuable newsletter. Maybe if I'm a weather site, where authentications might be more difficult, I'm going to offer the same text alerts, like, hey, I'm in San Francisco and the weather changes about three times a day. If that alert comes when I'm on the way out, because it's going to rain by the time I get home or something like that, it would be really useful to a consumer. As a marketer, signing up for newsletters, giving discounts for initial purchases; all of those are ways to build first-party data. And then it's easier to be really clear on that value exchange. As an industry, we also need to look at how we can make privacy policies more simple. How do we have a standard privacy policy around the use of first-party data so that every publisher can share that with the consumer? So I think that's the first step; collect that data and do it in a a really transparent way, and we're seeing some publishers do a really nice job with that. And while it may be difficult for some publishers, the best examples of this are the walled gardens. They do this the best as it provides 100% locked in inventory. When you look at Google search, and when you look at YouTube, a lot of that is okay. So I think we can all look at the walled gardens and leverage their learning. So how do they get so many consumers to share their identity with them? And how do we lean into that and establish that trusted value exchange?

Jason Wolfson:
Yeah, I think to add on to that, we see it on the publisher side, too. I think the walled gardens are a best in-class example, whether we want to admit it or not. I think we see publishers though with the tools to do more. And you know, our own Michael Silberman talks a lot about the need for brands and marketers to start acting like publishers in the way that they create that value exchange. So whether that's propping up more of an editorial or content strategy or giving more of that incentive. I think regardless, and we talked about this last week, when we all got together, for me, it really all comes back to that trust. And if you're able to cultivate that trust, it's retention and loyalty in this cookieless world that's going to be paramount, regardless of whether you're on the sell side, the buy side or the subscription side. Because customer acquisition costs are going through the roof as a result of these cookies going away, and nurturing those relationships throughout the customer journey. If you're a brand, the goal is to make them become a subscriber or an engaged visitor. If you're a publisher, having those relationships and nurturing them beyond a paywall or beyond a conversion is going to be absolutely crucial. So the tools and the content and the techniques that you deploy are going to be absolutely paramount.

Andrew Smith:
I would add to that since, Travis, you brought up social media and walled gardens. That open slate is primarily integrated into YouTube, Facebook and TikTok, right? Those are the big players, and they're in the social media content space. The way that we look at the value exchange is, first of all, highlighting the quality of the content that's available on those platforms and elevating some of the creators to the attention of the advertisers to say, hey, this is a premium creator and super premium influencer, or this is a publisher's channel or posts that are available in these areas. And this is content is worth supporting. And I think that it starts with, you know, on both sides, establishing trust with the consumer, but also the brand establishing its supportive content providers. And I think that that ultimately will convey a message to the consumer that, hey, this brand backs somebody who's making quality content that resonates with me, and then linking those passion points to the advertising message. I think that's crucial. I mean, we see this happening one to one with Patreon being supportive of creators now where there people willing to pay the great creator directly, right? And so I think within advertising, there can be that ability to have that being the perception that the advertiser is supporting the creator that you, the consumer, are passionate about, and, you know, subscribe to or watch their content, or go to their website to read their columns or whatever it might be. And I think that's a really important part of the piece is elevating content to something that's worth really talking about.

Ashley Deibert:
All of you said things that have brought so many great questions to mind. You know, Travis, we talked a lot about email authentication and the question, does email have the same value that it used to? I mean, I feel there was a point in time where like, email, email, email, and then it kind of died down a little bit as marketers kind of started exploring other ways to connect with consumers. And now it still seems to really be that kind of central point by which to authenticate them, but does it have as much value as it used to? I think about my own inbox. I've got like, literally, 43,000 unread emails, because it's just this black hole where I can go to get something that I want in the moment, but I don't ever stay on top of the communication that's happening afterwards, unless it really has value to me in that realm of time, you know?

Travis Clinger:
I think that's right. And I look at email now as more of what a consumer shares with the publisher to share their identity. To me, it's about following up with the consumer with an email notice. There are certainly folks who love their email newsletters and you know those are going to continue. But to your point, like my personal email inboxes, I have like half a million unread, it's pretty bad. So I do think it is the point of which, like a consumer can share the identity with the publisher. And so, you know, what we've done with ATMs is consumer shifts the email address to the publisher, and then that gets linked to a people-based identity that can be connected to acquire the data. And I think it's important to know that, you know, many people have different emails. So I've got my work email, my personal email. I still have my college email, I have an apple email for some reason, and then I've got my phone number, a whole slew of addresses now. And I give different pieces of these identities to different publishers and marketers I interact with. If you're my bank, you have my address, or you have my phone number. If you're a publisher, it's probably just my email address. And so that's what where we come in and link those together so that a publisher can connect their inventory to all of the data a marketer has, depending on what piece of identity that marketer has. So that's why I think as we look at authenticated solutions, they're going to be email only authenticated solutions. And those are going to be kind of programmatic tokens, but then they are going to be solutions that take that email, and match it to a robust offline database and connect that to a people-based solution. And that's going to be what gets us closest to what the walled gardens have. So to me email is the first step to identity, but it does not in and of itself represent complete identity.

Ashley Deibert:
Yeah, 100%. Jason, do you want to comment?

Jason Wolfson:
Yeah, I mean, just to add on, I think that Travis is spot on. I think that email is really that zero-party data that we love to call out at Piano. And I think that the supplement or the compliment to that would be alright, well, what content is that person consuming? What author or what topics are really interesting to them? Are they a dedicated loyal fan of your publication, and then can you marry that data together? And then you have  valuable information and  valuable data that's going to actually give you the conversion, or give you the higher CPM that you want to achieve when you go to a brand or through your ssps. So I think that it's not just going to be that email, because I think we all can attest that we have various different email sources, and we don't necessarily actively look at those or use them. So I think it's the compliment, and the combination of data points that are going to be crucial to actually moving the needle.

Ashley Deibert:
Yeah. Jason, in your comment before, and all of you have mentioned the use of technology to connect these dots. It's interesting, as we have this poll going, and I'll reveal the official results when we come back from our break here after our session, but I asked the people who were using a CDP if they're leveraging contextual targeting, and those aren't getting as many votes. I'd love to hear all of your opinions on why, from a technology perspective, why that's not been the thing that people are latching on to to do this. Maybe it's just too early, or maybe we need more education around it. What are we actually supposed to be leveraging to connect the dots?

Andrew Smith:
Yeah, I mean, as far as defending contextual targeting. I think that, as you know, Ashley, when we were at GrapeShot. Previously, I was the first US publisher to onboard GrapeShot as a contextual solution back in 2014. And we actually used it for a very interesting use case, which was to generate first-party data off international language content, right? And so we didn't use it for contextual targeting. We used it for categorization and enrichment of first-party data. And then that enabled us to spin up international business when there weren't a lot of third party data providers even back then, right? And of course, we know now with GDPR, that that's a different story. And then brand safety came along and, lo and behold, we had a solution in place and then shifted the entire contextual advertising market over towards a focus on brand safety. That quickly evolved into brand suitability, which is more about that mix of positive and negative. And I think that's what most people utilize and think about as contextual today. And we often talk about it at OpenSlate and definitely the case of GrapeShot and Oracle is that we're going back to our roots with contextual and I think it's definitely important for platforms like ours that our customers help us evolve our use of contextual in ways that will improve its effectiveness. As I was saying before, proof of value is where it's going to drive a lot more adoption of the platform. But at the same time, it's also a great way to achieve your goals and ensure that you remain privacy compliant. But you can do a mixture mixture of things right, and first party markup, direct contextual targeting, evolving your brand's suitability strategy; these are all things that are more about non relevance. So I don't disagree that it's in an early stage. I'm not surprised that, in the poll, there's not a huge fanfare for contextual just yet. I think this will be the year that it gets more and more backing in adoption.

Jason Wolfson:
And in terms of the technology piece, I think this is an area where I think brands have an opportunity to act more like publishers in terms of creating that value exchange. I think publishers have an opportunity to follow suit more with brands and marketers on evolving and integrating their tech stack. Ashley, you and I are marketers and I just remember, when I joined Piano, how many emails I got hit with about different technology solutions. There's different categories, and there are subcategories. And when we think about DMPs, for instance, they were all the rage. And now everyone's saying, Oh, well, the word DMP is dirty. Now, there's CDPs. And then there's six sub categories of CDP. So, frankly, it's overwhelming if you're a marketer or if you're a publisherto make sure that you have the right technology. So I think it's partially about education. I do think it's paramount that, regardless of whether you're a brand or a publisher, you take a step back and identify where all the different data sources that you have are coming from. And that doesn't necessarily need to just be from marketing. I think there's marketing, there's client support, there's sales, and all kinds of different data sources. Figuring out what the right tools and technology are for you requires some sort of a CDP because it really does provide that single view. It's a unification that you'll need to deploy across all of your different consumer engagement touchpoints. And then there's also, you know, the consent management piece that we talked about earlier. Having the technology in place for that will be crucial once cookies go away. Then, do you have an analytics solution to monitor the web behavior and offline behavior of your consumers so that you can tie that into the rest of your tech stack to properly engage with folks both online and offline, and all the different channels that they engage. It's a lot, but it's something that needs to be prioritized this year.

Ashley Deibert:
I agree with Jason. I'll just comment that we run a more simplified tech stack on the marketing side here at Piano versus what some of our publishers do. For me, coming in as CMO, I had to decide what do we absolutely need to run the business? What can we deprecate? What do we need to add? And I don't think that everybody always has that luxury of doing what I did, which is to build up from scratch and figure out exactly what I need. I'm fortunate that I know my tools here and my tools there. I think I think that's part of it, too, is to understand that part of the journey. What do I actually need now versus later? Does it integrate with my other technology? And do I have the team to implement and manage and understand this tech and, therefore, what's coming out of it? And I know that can be incredibly overwhelming, especially when all of us are trying to move fast to hit our revenue targets and maintain our audiences and develop first party relationships and do all of this at once. I probably just overwhelmed most people listening in right now, but that's the reality of the world we're in. And we have a question from the audience that I actually want to sneak in here. And this goes back to the topic of trust and personalization. There's a sense that different people make different content or provide different offers, and that might set up customers for a sense of distrust. What do you guys think about that?

Travis Clinger:  
So I think it definitely done in the wrong way. And I think this gets back to being really clear and transparent about how the data is being used. We know from case studies that people actually like personalized content. They may not want the lamp to follow them around, but they do like to see personalized ads that are relevant to them. If it's clear how their data is being used, we can foster a sense of trust with the consumer. I do think we should look at how we enable the consumers to dive into why did I see this ad. I think that's a feature that, as an industry, we haven't done a great job in building out. You have ad choices, which is a great start. But it would be great if I could click on an ad, like the lamp, and I could tell them that I bought the lamp by going to your competitor so please don't show me the lamp anymore. Like leaning into that transparency. Being upfront and telling them that this ad was served by this advertiser because you're in this database. Eventually, if we can get to a consumer portal, where they can control their first-party data with different marketers, I think that's still five years away from now. But that's what we need to get to, similar to what Facebook has done. You can download all of the different audiences that Facebook has, but you can actually opt out. So I do think there's the potential of distrust, but we lean into being really transparent about how we're using the data, the value that consumers get from our use of the data, and then we get really transparent about why the consumer sees the ad they see. That's how we foster that trust.

Jason Wolfson:
I would agree with that. I mean, I keep emphasizing the importance of simplifying things. These are people and if we want to build and nurture these relationships, and make sure that they're strong, we have to be transparent. So I think, going back to what Travis just mentioned, I think it's about continuing to leverage consent management platforms that make it very clear that what you're offering them is meant to enrich their experience and enrich their lives. And you're not using it to then go and use it for your own growth. From a revenue perspective, I think it really just comes down to providing that value. And making sure that everything that you're giving them is worth what they're getting from you. I think, looking at that example that Travis gave with the lamp. I think it's true. I don't think, as marketers, we communicate as people enough. Even though I'm a B2B marketer, I need to communicate with those businesses and those intenders as though they're a person. And I think sometimes we lose that aspect when we're looking at users of a site or users in our journey. And just providing that open and honest communication with them goes a long way to validating why consumers do prefer personalization. We just have to be more upfront with them about why we're giving them what we're giving them.

Ashley Deibert:
It's interesting, I was doing a little bit of reading, obviously, before our session, and I came across this study from Epsilon. They revealed a recent study, and more than half of the people they surveyed are marketers. About 60 percent said they don't even think these changes are going to even help consumers. What's your guys's take on that?

Andrew Smith:
Depends on what you mean by help. If we can ensure that consumers are provided user experiences, and access to content in an affordable and accessible way, I think that's the path forward. I think that's ultimately what everyone wants. As a former publisher, fostering that trust, fostering the community and ensuring that that trust wasn't broken with the audience meant that my advertising business remained viable. So whatever we can do, to continue to bridge that gap, I think there is no choice but to ensure that the consumer's user experience continues to be as as solid and respectable as possible.

Jason Wolfson:
I was just gonna say that, as it pertains to advertising specifically, I think the changes and the impact will be minimal. I think to Andrew's point, experiences will get better and personalization should be better if everybody's playing ball. But I think the biggest change is the example that we keep beating over the head which is the the creepy shoe ad or the lamp ad that follows you across the internet; that won't exist when third-party cookies go away. And I think that that will be the biggest change. I think if we want to look at the positives, people should be getting more value for their data and their information. The way I see it is that ad tech and advertising, in general, has kind of gotten the raw end of the stick, so to speak, in terms of privacy. I think there's a lot more privacy topics that we see in digital that probably need to be emphasized a little bit more than just advertising. When we think about data fraud and people's identities being taken away outside of the added ecosystem, I think that there's a lot more that's not being emphasized enough. And advertisers have gotten a lot of the eyes on them right now, but I think that the changes are going to be very, very minimal. 

 

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