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Build a sustainable audience-first approach to video advertising

Privacy by default is the new normal due to new regulations, consumer sensitivities, and platform restrictions. Advertisers need to keep up with the ever changing identity landscape and embrace a portfolio of targeting strategies to reach consumers.

Learn about new identity solutions gaining traction, why CTV will remain an important piece of any audience strategy, the benefits of activating data on the supply side, and solutions to ensure data is accurately and responsibly sourced.

Future-proof your audience strategy to build a scalable, privacy-centric solution today with our new Advertiser’s Guide to Audience Data.

Build a sustainable audience-first approach to video advertising

Content Summary

Privacy by Default Is the New Normal
What’s Next for Identity
How to Evolve Your Approach to Audience Data
Responsible and Secure Data Usage
A Future Where Privacy and Personalization Unite

The identity landscape is rapidly evolving. Privacy by default is the new normal due to industry regulations, consumer sensitivities, and platform restrictions. Now is the time for advertisers to thoughtfully rethink the fundamentals of their targeting strategies to accommodate forthcoming changes to the privacy landscape.

Learn how to future-proof your audience strategy to build a scalable, privacy-centric solution with this article.

This article will focus on how advertisers can tap into valuable data assets to build a scalable, privacy-centric audience strategy. We’ll look at what’s affecting identity in video today and how to prepare for a successful, sustainable future.

We’re at a pivotal moment in the way that advertisers can connect with consumers. As advertising technology is becoming increasingly sophisticated and more broadly used across all screen types, consumer privacy policies are being reshaped by both legislation and commitments from the tech industry.

Changes in data protection legislation and attitudes towards privacy and an increasingly fragmented video ecosystem is forcing advertisers to rethink audience targeting strategies and take an adaptive approach to crossscreen media planning. This guide will focus on how advertisers can tap into valuable data assets to build a scalable, privacy-centric audience strategy. We’ll look at what’s affecting identity in video today and how to prepare for a successful, sustainable future.

Keeping pace with the new identity landscape while continuing to deliver relevant experiences creates a competitive advantage. Embracing a portfolio of targeting strategies including a greater emphasis on the use of both first-party customer data and contextual targeting—delivered across a balanced mix of screen types is more important than ever.

Now is the moment for advertisers to thoughtfully rethink the fundamentals of their targeting strategies to allow time for testing, shaping, and optimizing to accommodate forthcoming changes to the privacy landscape.

Privacy by Default Is the New Normal

How did we get to this new privacy-conscious world? There are several forces that have been at play over the last few years and are now converging in a way that will transform how advertisers engage their target audiences.

Privacy Regulations

How did we get to this new privacy-conscious world? There are several forces that have been at play over the last few years and are now converging in a way that will transform how advertisers engage their target audiences. Governments are committed to enforcing compliance of existing data protection laws, such as the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). A growing number of countries, including Brazil, Japan, and Thailand, are already enforcing similar regulations.

Consumer Sensitivities

Consumers are paying more attention to how companies are using the data they’ve shared and whether it is adequately safeguarded from potential breaches. Yet, there’s an opportunity to better communicate the value exchange of sharing data as their expectations for relevant, personalized digital experiences have never been higher.

Platform Restrictions

In response to privacy regulations, major ad tech players like Apple and Google are taking a stance on how data is used across their browsers, operating systems, and platforms. Beyond privacy, device manufacturers are also pulling back access to their user data and identifiers, creating walled gardens as they look to safeguard the unique value it provides to their ad inventory and business.

The future will be a digital ecosystem built on trust and transparency that benefits publishers, advertisers, and consumers.

Let’s take a look at two of the immediate implications stemming from these industry shifts.

Deprecation of third-party cookies: One of the biggest stories to come from ad tech in years is that Google is following Mozilla’s Firefox and Apple’s Safari and will block third-party cookies in its Chrome browser by late 2023. As Chrome accounts for more than 60% of global web traffic, this effectively marks the end of cookies and will affect targeting, frequency capping, and reporting. These changes will primarily affect desktop devices, as cookies are already limited in scope on mobile devices and are not present in connected TV (CTV) environments.

IDFA becoming opt-in only: With the release of its latest mobile operating system, iOS 14, earlier this year, Apple disabled its identifier for advertisers (IDFA) by default. App owners must now receive the user’s permission through the AppTrackingTransparency (ATT) framework to track them or access their device’s advertising identifier. A lack of IDFA on the bulk of mobile ad opportunities will affect audience targeting, measurement, attribution, fraud prevention, and frequency capping. It’s possible that a similar change will be replicated across other devices and platforms in the future.

New solutions are needed to replace the third party cookie model and with these will come new data protection laws. While we are challenged to find new solutions so that we can still engage in retargeting, frequency capping, and other advertising functions, we need to do so with data protection and privacy in mind.

What’s Next for Identity

With rising consumer concerns over how their personal information is used, privacy legislation in every region, and platform changes, the privacy-by-default disruption is happening and today’s digital ad infrastructure cannot be expected to operate in the same way going forward.

Digital advertising will continue to power a free and open internet, but it is time to decrease our reliance on existing digital identifiers like third-party cookies and instead create an approach to audience addressability that places privacy and transparency at its core.

New solutions gaining traction

There are several new solutions in development that protect user privacy while still allowing for identity-based advertising. These new identity solutions can help you reach targeted audiences and boost campaign performance while adhering to new privacy-centric norms.

Universal IDs offer a common identifier for users on desktop and mobile web that can be used by any vendor in the ad tech industry. The IDs are passed in the bid stream, allowing buyers to transact similarly to as they would with cookies, but with improved transparency for the consumer.

There are several types of universal IDs in the market today, which can be categorized as unauthenticated IDs and authenticated IDs. In regards to unauthenticated IDs, publishers may not want to share users’ email addresses or they may not have that information to share. Authenticated IDs utilize email addresses.

Two IDs with substantial industry backing and most likely to continue to gain moment over the next year are Unified ID 2.0, which is based on encrypted user email addresses and serves as an operator of the initiative, and LiveRamp’s ID, which is powered by an identity graph that distills multiple identifiers into one anonymous profile. Both of these identity solutions are authenticated IDs.

Google’s Privacy Sandbox is a working group created by Google with the objective of developing a privacy-centric solution that allows advertisers to maintain the retargeting, interest-based targeting, and contextual targeting options they have today.

The planned deprecation of third-party cookie usage on Google’s Chrome browser is one of the industry’s biggest challenges and will take time to prepare for and implement. Google will continue to provide guidance and updates to the industry on it’s transition away from third-party cookies.

Project Rearc is an initiative from the IAB in which brands, agencies, publishers, and tech companies will partner to develop a new set of global privacy standards to power digital advertising. So far, the IAB Tech Lab has proposed a number of standards for responsible addressability and predictable privacy, including a Global Privacy Platform, Accountability Platform, Best Practices for User-Enabled Identity Tokens, and more.

Identity in CTV

We’ve covered the major updates to audience-based advertising in browser and mobile environments, but what does identity look like in connected TV (CTV) environments? CTV viewership skyrocketed in the last year—40% of US adults watch CTV and spend an average of three hours a day doing so—and advertisers have taken note. At the moment, targeting in CTV uses device IDs and publisher-provided IDs (PPIDs), which are largely based on user authentication or IP addresses rather than relying on third-party cookies to target and measure campaigns. CTV relies on subscriber login information given its premium nature. This subscriber data, along with automatic content recognition data from device manufacturers, offers a trove of first-party audience data. CTV is an attractive and effective addition to media plans as it will remain addressable and measurable even with the loss of other digital identifiers.

The path forward

So how do all of these new identity solutions work together? What should your new audience data strategy look like?

The fact is that each environment (e.g. web browser, mobile, CTV) handles identity differently, which means brands need a custom data strategy for each.

For the near term, you need to evaluate your approach to data activation based on a matrix that considers which environment your campaign is running in, whether a user is logged in or has granted consent, and which identifier is applicable to that environment.


  • Anonymous user
  • Consented user
  • Logged-in, consented user


  • Browser
  • Mobile app
  • CTV app


  • Cookie or universal ID
  • Publisher-provided ID (PPID)
  • Device ID

This can potentially make delivering ad-supported experiences very complex. Ad planning, personalization, delivery, measurement, and privacy compliance could be affected by a number of variables.

  • User controls and opt-ins
  • Relevant data protection laws
  • Vendor
  • Marketer
  • Publisher
  • Browser or app
  • Media channel
  • Operating system
  • Device

Advertisers are already evaluating how to evolve their audience strategies and implement these new identity solutions. The big-picture challenge, though, is finding the right solution to manage identity across platforms. Consumer device usage is increasingly fragmented which makes cross-channel targeting and measurement increasingly difficult.

Open identity standards, such as those being developed through IAB Tech Lab’s Project Rearc, can simplify execution and interoperability while, most importantly, providing users with predictable, consistent privacy features across their ad-supported digital experiences. This is the future we are moving toward.

How to Evolve Your Approach to Audience Data

Understanding how privacy and technology trends affect your marketing strategies is key to forming a sustainable approach to engaging your audience.

Data-driven advertising isn’t going anywhere, it’s just evolving to become more privacyconscious. There are a number of data sources available to you to help reach your audiences. It’s important to understand how they fit together to form a cohesive identity strategy that will help you achieve the necessary scale for your goals. Let’s dig into two main buckets: addressable targeting and contextual targeting.

Addressable, audience-based strategies

Audience-based buys continue to be the holy grail of effective and efficient campaigns. Advertisers are prioritizing channels where they can target and measure as they have higher confidence their investments will deliver. Addressable strategies can be activated through your own first-party data, publishers’ first-party data, or universal IDs.

Advertiser first-party data has become a more valuable asset with new privacy regulations. Accuracy is vital, and your first-party data will always be your cleanest data sets that give you the clearest picture of your audience. You’ll have a way to find and engage with your target audiences that won’t be affected by the deprecation of cookies or other identifiers.

Take the time to evaluate what first-party data you have available to you. It’s likely that data was collected through a variety of touchpoints, so you’ll need to organize it to gain better visibility into your customer profiles. If your data was collected through web or mobile environments, then how can you connect it to CTV through a device graph to give you a cross-channel view of your audience?

If you don’t have first-party data, how can you start collecting it? Now is the time to invest in forming deeper relationships with your customers.

Acquiring first-party data is not an easy feat, but it is critical that brands start establishing directto-customer relationships to understand and build audiences, and gain a competitive advantage.

Different verticals offer different opportunities for customer touchpoints, so if you find your first-party data lacking, consider how to use third-party data to help connect your existing data sets and enrich your customer profiles.

Universal IDs present a number of new identifier solutions, which can make it overwhelming to determine which to invest in. In addition to Unified ID 2.0 and RampID, which we highlighted earlier on, there are authenticated and unauthenticated solutions from Neustar, Lotame, Nielsen, and several others.

As you evaluate which could be the right fit for your business, consider these three questions:

  1. What purpose is the ID built to serve? Some IDs are designed to be a replacement for cookies, while others aim to solve for audience targeting and cross-channel measurement and attribution.
  2. What is the methodology behind each vendor or IDs? Some are built deterministically, mostly by using email addresses, while others are built on probabilistic data, so consider how that aligns with your needs.
  3. Are there synergies with your existing ad tech stack? Depending on the technology you’re already using, you may find natural alignment with certain IDs that will help simplify data connections, for example with your measurement and attribution vendors.

Both the demand and supply sides have been taking a wait-and-see approach before investing in universal ID solutions, but we are now seeing traction with Unified ID 2.0 and RampID, which are authenticated solutions. Remember that there is no single correct choice, the value you can derive from each ID will depend on your own business. Plus, having multiple identity solutions available for the long term will help maintain balance in the market.

Authentication and publisher firstparty data is increasingly relevant today. As consumer consent is paramount to the future of identity, media owners are focused on forming stronger relationships with their audience in order to gather consent, improve personalization and the user experience, and help advertisers reach key audiences.

Publishers are more invested in collecting and activating data from their logged-in user base. This permissioned, authenticated data can provide you with a rich view of the customer identity, including demographic, geographic, behavioral, and other attributes.

Contextual strategies

As we move towards the deprecation of cookies, conversations around contextual targeting are on the rise, particularly as a complementary strategy to audience targeting. Contextual is a valuable brand-building tool in that it allows you to achieve broad reach while still serving relevant ad experiences to your target audience.

While there is a lot of buzz around contextual targeting, there are still challenges. One is frequency capping and ensuring a positive user experience for viewers. Brand safety and suitability are also concerns. Buyers have voiced their frustrations about a lack of standardization and insights about the content ads will play within.

When it comes to video, publishers are addressing these concerns and working to improve category standardization. They are also tapping into technology that goes beyond text analysis and leverages machine learning to analyze crossscreen video content. Publishers can select and send specific content metadata—such as programs, episodes, genres, and live or on-demand environments—to DSPs making it possible for you to target, report, and forecast based on what viewers are watching.

Contextual targeting can be a fit for some campaigns where brand awareness is the goal or to help provide scale where audience data cannot.

Moving data to the supply side

Data has traditionally been activated on the demand side, but that’s changing as privacy regulations evolve and premium video campaigns shift from open to private marketplace executions. There’s a transformative shift in which buyers are bringing their data to the supply side for improved efficiency and higher visibility into campaign planning.

As publishers activate their own data and invest in their overall data strategies, you can work more closely with your supply-side partners to gain a richer view of your audience. Consider how to combine data from multiple sources, including your firstparty data, authenticated publisher data, universal IDs, or segments from other third-party data marketplaces, to improve targeting across all screens.

A flexible, customizable approach to your data strategy is the best way to meet your campaign objectives. First-party data is highly coveted. But the reality is that scale is still a challenge, particularly in the fragmented video landscape. Take advantage of the improved forecasting as well as the data connections available through your publisher partners to make more informed investment decisions and gain significant downstream efficiencies.

Activating data on the supply side improves forecasting, so you can more intelligently predict the type and volume of impressions available based on the data segments you want to target.

Responsible and Secure Data Usage

Data collaboration and clean rooms

As more data becomes available and is more widely used, we need to refine our collaboration methods. This is particularly true in CTV environments, where the existing walled gardens make data collaboration difficult.

Data clean rooms are one solution for this as they create a means of siloed data collaboration. Multiple parties can execute a data-layered campaign in a secure environment without exposing raw data to another party. Data is protected and no party becomes more data-rich from the transaction.

Another interesting application, which we’ll likely see more of, is media owners using clean rooms to securely form combined pools of data with other media owners. Bringing in data from several cooperating media owners can give you the scale you need to execute a data-layered campaign.

The decline of cookies and digital identifiers creates the need to form closer relationships with publishers or their preferred supply-side platforms in order to gain access to valuable audience data.

While audience-layered deals will still be transacted programmatically, they will more often move through direct or private channels. Focusing on fewer, trusted partnerships through supply path optimization will help you build more resilient value chains.

Establishing trust between both parties to understand how data is collected, stored, and used is key to building a lasting partnership.

Ethical data usage

Data ethics have long been somewhat of a black box, but buyers are beginning to look more closely at how their partners address data ethics and transparency. It is imperative to consider how you will ensure consumers have control over their data and that it is used in a responsible way.

Data accuracy and quality is another non-negotiable. Seek out partners and data providers who can demonstrate rigorous methodologies for ensuring data quality and provide you with transparency into accurate data sets.

Your partners should be able to help you understand user consent, how segments were sourced, how they may perform, and how accurate and recent they are.

This is one of many considerations as you grow or form new partnerships with supply-side players. Implementing an evaluation framework can help guide you through responsible investments across the advertising ecosystem.

A Future Where Privacy and Personalization Unite

We are in for a transformational year ahead as privacy and transparency become the foundational pillars of digital advertising.

The renewed focus on identity has created implications for targeting strategies. We’ve entered the era of first-party data, and advertisers need to invest in their data strategies as well as closely collaborate with supplyside partners to fuel data-driven personalization.

As a whole, we must improve the value exchange between consumers, publishers, and advertisers to ensure a free and open internet that does not compromise data privacy and safety.

Reaching this new future—where privacy-compliant identifiers can be used across platforms and devices—will require cooperation across the industry

Alex Lim is a certified book reviewer and editor with over 10 years of experience in the publishing industry. He has reviewed hundreds of books for reputable magazines and websites, such as The New York Times, The Guardian, and Goodreads. Alex has a master’s degree in comparative literature from Harvard University and a PhD in literary criticism from Oxford University. He is also the author of several acclaimed books on literary theory and analysis, such as The Art of Reading and How to Write a Book Review. Alex lives in London, England with his wife and two children. You can contact him at [email protected] or follow him on Website | Twitter | Facebook

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