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Choice - the key to keeping the open internet alive

The Drum 15 Jun 2021 04:00

Historically, digital advertising across the open internet has been a great democratising force. It affords consumers choice and free access to top quality content, in the form of news, videos, music and games, while simultaneously funding media owners around the world. But, for the past few years, advertisers have had to negotiate a plethora of hurdles from Government regulation, platform privacy policies and the removal of third-party cookies, in order to achieve relevance in digital advertising today. With the recent announcement from Google confirming that no cookie 2.0 is on the way, the open web and the advantages this space offers to advertisers and publishers alike, is facing a new challenge.

Traditional targeting and measurement strategies that the digital advertising industry has grown up around need to be rebuilt for a privacy-first world, but, for Xandr, the impending depreciation of third-party cookies is being met with optimism. It believes that this brings about a great opportunity to find new and better ways of working together. In the face of change, innovation, collaboration and choice, across an efficient and transparent ecosystem is going to be crucial to move forward.

Reshaping digital advertising

In the recently launched Roadmap to Relevance, UK, a companion report to Xandr’s Global Relevance Report, it seeks to understand how advertisers locally are activating, prioritising and thinking about data when it comes to digital video. 81% of UK brands and agencies surveyed ranked reaching the right audience in their top three most important steps to delivering a relevant video ad experience to consumers. This is not going to change; what happens next will continue to be data-centric. In fact, Xandr’s report found that 97% of respondents confirmed they had made investments in data plans over the last 12 months.

Evolving Partnerships

At the end of 2019, the Danish publishing houses, JP/Politikens Hus, TV2 and Berlingske Media, joined forces with Xandr to create ‘The Publisher Platform,’ a new digital advertising platform guaranteeing Danish quality context and impact for advertisers. Winners of the Chair Award at this years’ Drum Digital Advertising Awards, this partnership was celebrated as an “exceptional example of collaborative improvement to the programmatic marketplace” and “a future-forward technology that the industry needs” by Christian Juhl, CEO at GroupM. The platform is based on open advertising technology created by Xandr with an easy and user-friendly booking interface developed by Nexta. It is favoured already by six leading media houses and, as a non-profit association, every penny invested into it goes back to advertising purchasing and fueling the open internet.

“Next generation contextual technology relies on content descriptors and other information about a web page that allows advertisers to reach their desired audience without the need for ID-based targeting,” says Gilman. “Xandr’s investment into this area means many of these partners are only available via our open API driven platform. They have been tried, tested and proven to be a great alternative to cookie-based approaches.”

Imagine a world where all the ads we see online take place within just one or two walled gardens rather than the rich ecosystem that we enjoy today. Accessing free quality content from a range of sources is what makes the open internet so valuable. Independent publishers are not just the foundations of the open internet but the cornerstone of democracy, providing choice for consumers.

“Walled gardens are necessary for parts of a brand’s marketing – there is no doubt they have unparalleled reach – however, in return for utilising this, advertisers have to give up a lot of control,” said Gilman. “They lose the ability to differentiate from their competitors as they all appear in the same space. Transparency is also limited, both in terms of how their targetable data is used and also how the buyers’ ad dollar is really spent. Consolidating marketing to walled gardens essentially means that you’re handing the keys over; losing control over your data and allowing someone else to steer your ship.”

The road ahead may look daunting at first, but it is in fact an opportunity for us all to be part of the next evolution of digital advertising. While the questions around the future of identity are far from answered, one thing is certain: those looking to stay in control of their future need choice; choice in data, choice in partnerships and choice in content. This is how we can make sure that the open internet not only survives, but thrives.

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XandrChloe GilmanXandrUKStatista Research Department
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