Digital advertising is at a cross-roads

Fiona Roberts
By Fiona Roberts | 7 April 2021

Fiona Roberts is commercial director at MiQ.

Digital advertising is at a cross-roads – and there’s big changes coming.

A monumental shift is underway, which will fundamentally affect how digital advertising works, and how brands understand their online consumers.

These changes are a result of major alterations in the tech world, amid growing concerns about online security, and the way a consumer’s personal information - and the content they view - is monitored online.

Internet users have long accepted cookies as part of their online world. Since the internet’s inception, cookies have been our exchange for going online. Quid Pro Quo...sure, you can surf the web, but you must leave some little crumbs about yourself and your interests behind. These crumbs have been (delicious!) liquid gold for advertisers, enabling them to target their online campaigns, and measure their success on desktop and mobile.

But online consumer identification is changing. Over the past few years, there have been increasing concerns about the use of third-party cookies, and a growing sense of privacy invasion by companies, who use consumer data to target their advertising.

The message for advertisers from all this is clear – we must start thinking about the post-cookie world, where using personal data is not okay without implicit consent.

But what does this new regime look like? The demise of cookies presents opportunities for the industry to re-think the value exchange with its consumers, focus on quality media and data, explore new partnerships, and start the process of re-engaging and rebuilding trust with customers.

First-party data will become more important than ever. In the post-cookie world, it will be the most valuable commodity for marketers. Now is the time for brands to take stock of their first-party data and make sure it is in great condition. Start thinking about ways to harness that data – consider connecting it with the walled gardens (Facebook, Amazon, Twitter etc) to better understand campaigns within those platforms or connect with other publishers and brands in adjacent spaces to reach new audiences.

The next few years will undoubtedly be a testing phase for many advertisers. There is no simple solution (because there will no longer be a one-size-fits-all cookie) so brands will have to trial different platforms, tools, environments and technologies to find out what works for their business. It will be a time to explore new horizons and really examine what is successful in terms of identifying customers for targeting, who they should partner with, and connecting them all together to drive better results.

It sounds daunting, but it goes back to the basics of advertising: creating direct relationships with audiences. Knowing who they are, what they like, what makes them tick or engage or click, and using that to build content and deliver results… with cookies, we’ve been spoilt in with the amount of data we have been able to access to discover this. The new world will make us work harder, smarter and more entrepreneurial in finding the solution that works for a brands marketing objectives. As an we’re an industry built on being able to ‘figure it out’, I’ve no doubt the next frontier will be an exciting one.

Welcome to the new online world – we’ll see you there.

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