Massive growth in advertising is projected to be the norm for years to come. And more brands want a piece of that action. In fact, digital advertising revenue grew by nearly 25% from 2017 to 2018, and the market segment as a whole is now valued at roughly $50 billion. That’s according to the "IAB Internet Advertising Revenue Report."
But brands advertising online today should be focused on more than just ad spending. Safety, reliability, and performance are vital for building consumer trust and sustaining success over the long term. Likewise, effective online advertising requires an understanding of the issues that affect the entire digital marketing ecosystem, which consists of three primary inhabitants: brands, digital advertisers, and consumers. In many ways, each has different interests and motives, meaning that universal issues affect each differently.
Consumer Privacy and Data Protection
The amount of consumer data generated by a typical online shopping session has created an unprecedented dynamic between buyers and sellers. If you walk into a grocery store, there’s little information about that visit that gets recorded and stored unless you buy something or sign up for a rewards program. It is unlikely that anyone will ever know you walked down the freezer aisle, looked at the frozen mangoes, and perhaps briefly had a carton of ice cream in your shopping cart before putting it back.
By comparison, when you visit a website, there’s a detailed record of where you came from, which pages you clicked on, how long you spent reading, and even where you went next. Similarly, visit an online store, and every detail of your browsing behavior is collected and stored. To be fair, your name won’t typically be attached to that information, but advertisers can target the devices you used while generating it.
What Consumers Really Think About Data Privacy
Privacy is primarily a consumer issue, and digital marketing and privacy are two topics that are nearly always intertwined. High-profile data breaches and ongoing scandals involving the sale of personal information have led journalists, consumer protection groups, and lawmakers to prioritize consumer privacy protection, and data privacy standards will continue to be elevated. All of this means that brands must be sensitive about the data they collect and understand that they are required to be good stewards of that data.
Interestingly, consumer privacy concerns about internet marketing, particularly among young people who have grown up online, seem to be decreasing. While brands are committed to profits, consumers are just as committed to getting good stuff at the best price. If that price includes personal data, many are still willing to pay it.
Advertisers Need Trust
While the issue of data security and privacy has rightfully received lots of attention recently, it’s just one element of brand safety in digital advertising. The web has long been a breeding ground for all sorts of conversations and behaviors, and not all of them make it a better place for commerce.
A consumer packaged goods brand would be appalled to know that its family-friendly ad for laundry detergent appears right before a sexually explicit song or right after a video capturing a hate-filled tirade. Similarly, consumers are frustrated when they see ads for items that have no relevance to them. In both cases, trust is violated.
When consumers can’t be sure who’s doing what with their data, or even what data is out there, they lose trust in advertisers. When brands invest millions in digital marketing and are charged for ads that never show up on the web or for phantom web clicks and engagement from robots, they lose trust, too.
Brands and consumers want as much control as possible over their online experience because with control comes safety, reliability, and better performance.
A Better Approach
The digital advertising industry needs solutions to evaluate the entire digital marketing ecosystem with a focus on maximizing reliability, safety, and performance. Companies will spend roughly $129 billion on digital marketing this year, exceeding spending on traditional advertising for the first time ever. It is vital for brands to maximize their return on that investment and build trust with consumers.
That starts with the basics: ensuring your brand is complying with all regulatory and community standards. Most know this and choose to work with reputable ad-tech firms and data providers. Many — particularly in industries where compliance is the No. 1 priority — have policies around data collection, retention, and use that they will insist that vendors follow.
When it comes to specific types of targeting techniques or data uses, some brands know more than others. For example, some might be able to take advantage of geolocation data. Some might be prescriptive: “I want to reach all of the people who fit my persona within an X mile radius of all Walmart locations in Michigan.” Others might simply say, “I want to find people who might want to buy my product — help me find them.” Most of the time, though, they’re relying on data or technology that they don’t normally work with, which is where outside expertise is critical.
Best-in-class ad-tech providers will analyze every advertising opportunity based on a multitude of criteria while taking into account brand safety, consumer privacy protection, campaign key performance indicators, and any other relevant considerations. For example, most vendors will provide site-level evaluations, making sure that a website like nytimes.com or ESPN.com aligns with brand values and standards before purchasing ad space on it. This practice is essential to ensure brand safety. Better providers take it even further by providing page-level evaluations, which ensures your logo won’t appear next to an article about a white supremacist rally or a mass shooting.
You need a partner that will analyze billions of data points each day to help you make the best ad execution decisions and that will work with your preferred partner — whether that’s Integral Ad Science, Comscore, Moat, or another — to deliver comprehensive and verified reporting on each campaign.
Know Your Data Is Secure
Ideally, your ad-tech partner should implement strict security measures to ensure that only authorized personnel are able to access the personally identifiable information of your customers.
Reporting You Can Trust
Most advertisers rely on an aggregation of solutions, often working with distinct data providers, data management platforms, demand-side platforms, and analytics partners to build a workable digital ad solution. Each of these firms typically uses its own set of metrics with little regard for which metrics make the most sense for your particular campaign. Ultimately, more vendors means more data leaks and more vulnerabilities for you.
Ideally, you would use a unified intent engine that houses the data, DMP, DSP, and analytics under one roof. That enables direct measurement of campaign performance. The TAG certification process provides you with an extra layer of protection from malware and fraud while further ensuring reporting accuracy.
An Environment of Transparency
Advertisers have a vested interest in improving the health of the entire digital marketing ecosystem. So they should seek partners who work with leading privacy organizations and actively participate in industrywide compliance programs to ensure the safety and privacy of consumers.
Valassis Digital can deliver on all of these points and more. If you are looking for a partner that can provide more data with detailed analysis and better results, check out our report about our predictive consumer intelligence.