User Data at all costs : how can advertisers avoir the GAFA dead-end ?
You should be well prepared by now. As GDPR and e-privacy have become a reality for brands, agencies and media, cookies as the main gate to users is slowly dying, taking away all chances to capture user data easily. As it gets harder and harder to collect user consent, cookie-based targeting will be made tricky, even more so as we know that non-cookie-friendly mobile devices are ruling over the internet world. Is this the best opportunity to look at data a brand-new way and stop tracking users hopelessly? Well, not really. It seems that e-privacy could give even more power to GAFA.
A CHANGE OF HABIT, NO CHANGE OF PARADIGM
Indeed, Facebook and friends are already on track for powerful people-based solutions, as they benefit gigantic amount of information on their logged users. Facebook, Google or Amazon have succeeded in the way being logged remains a prerequisite to any action on their platform. Few can boast about it.
To put it in a nutshell, e-privacy will double the competitive advantage for the big ones. Not only will they remain user-data leaders, but it will get trickier for their competitors to keep the pace, unless they manage to force logging as well. Some even start talking about a dangerous duopoly that could arise in 2019, given the power Facebook and Google have taken in the digital advertising world.
The only way to counterattack has been for others to encourage users to subscribe and log on their platforms. Some cross-media alliances have even started working on common digital ID through single sign-on technologies.
Media agencies have tried to follow this trend as well and worked around unique IDs to access all platforms from a single group.
Overall, nothing has changed. GAFA still lead the race, everyone is trying to mimic them with very questionable results and user-data remains the holy grail. Because of e-privacy, the industry has changed habits (Goodbye precious cookie) but did not change paradigm at all (Hello, open unique ID). And that’s a shame.
WHY OPEN UNIQUE IDS WILL NOT CHANGE THE NATURE OF THE PROBLEM
The AdTech industry is also preparing the future and working on a way to standardize access to unique IDs. As of today, they face two main issues. First, the incapacity of all actors to settle on a shared long-term strategy. Sure thing, the latest Appnexus acquisition by AT&T has changed plans. But other than that, it is not such a simple thing to settle on such an important thing as user IDs with all your competitors.
The second issue AdTech face, trying to standardize unique open IDs, is linked to users themselves. Such an undertaking would only make sense if applied to a gigantic number of users. Trying to embark users in this journey has a direct impact on user experience and integration time, demotivating potential editors.
GDPR might change their reluctance and open unique IDs might slow down a bit GAFA’s advance. But never will it change the nature of the problem: as long as the industry consider user data as the only way to sort this out, they will never be able to find common and shared long-term solutions to bypass Amazon, Facebook and other giants. And moving from cookies to unique IDs will not be a sustainable answer.
UNDERSTANDING CONTEXT TO UNDERSTAND USERS
What if user-oriented data was a big misconception on how to address client on digital? GDPR, adverse users, ad blocks: everything tends to prove that new ways are to be found and new touchpoints with clients and prospects to be created, to re-enchant users with advertising.
How can context follow that objective, then?
Imagine yourself being a huge Nike fan. Such a fan that you like going in a Nike store at least once a week. However, how would you like a Nike salesman showing up at your doorstep the same day your dog passed away? Not the best time, right? Even though your relationship with the brand is strong, you would not like it to interfere in the wrong context. This example could be applied to the digital world and help us understand that user data is nothing if not in the right context.
Even more, user data could be deducted from the context: the more I understand what users watch or read, the more I can target the proper way and make sure my message will be displayed at the right time, in the right context.
USER JOURNEY DOES NOT MEAN A THING WITHOUT VIDEO
A contextual approach gains a full meaning when talking about video content. Around 2021, 80% of internet traffic will rely on video, and probably change the way we apprehend data, not as bits and parts anymore but as a continuum. Knowing who your consumers are will be less important than understanding what they do. And understanding what they do will help you assessing whothey are. Pretty much the opposite of what Google sells today.
Contextual advertising has started to prove itself very effective on click-through rates and conversions. First studies show that contextual can at least leverage same performances as audience-based targeting, for lesser costs, given the actual rise for third party data. More importantly, contextual enables prolonged exposure to the ad content and a more captive audience IF the advertising is the right one. In this whole process, let’s not forget that the creative plays a decisive role and needs to match context and content. Otherwise, contextual advertising is no better than any other targeting strategy.
Reminiz has focused on video understanding, from face and logo recognition to mood understanding, exactly because we are convinced that contextualization will be the right way to compensate for the user data dilution. This does not mean that user data will die eventually. Only that it will be part of a more global data approach, relying on context as the
 “The enduring effectiveness of contextual targeting”, Roast, 2018