• The opportunity for rich, engaging, and value-added ad experiences has never been greater. Incredible advancements in technology have been made over the past decade that make this possible, and we as an industry absolutely should be proud. However, consumer trust still lags.

    It’s no secret that certain challenges remain in order for the marketer to truly get this right. The list includes topics such as brand safety, measurement, fraud, identity, data quality, and creative. Ironically, it’s the presence of each of these that contribute to arguably the biggest challenge of all—regaining consumer trust.

    Disclaimer: this is not to say that consumer trust has been forgotten, and most of all certainly not by the marketer. It’s top of mind. However, with so many players in the ad stack, and because it’s not an easily measurable metric, focus on improving consumer trust can easily get lost in the shuffle. Today, more than ever, it matters most.

    How did we get here?

    The innovations in technology, the consumer’s move to mobile, and the real-time nature of our world have all created a double-edged sword for the marketer. On one hand, there’s more opportunity than ever before to not just reach the right customer at the right time, but to do so with an ad experience that the consumer doesn’t mind.

    On the other hand, in order to deliver on that highly sought-after consumer experience, data must be collected, people must be identified in a privacy-safe way, and knowledge about consumers’ real-world experiences must be acquired.

    To the non-adtech-savvy consumer, this can be scary. Data collection is no secret to the average consumer. But just what exactly is collected, how, and how it’s used largely remains a proverbial black box. In addition, there are still kinks to iron out when it comes to delivering relevant and engaging ads.

    Case in point: we’ve all been retargeted for those shoes we already bought, a trip we already booked, or a show we already saw. These misfires, however well-intended by the marketer who wants to send more relevant and personalized ad experiences, erode consumer trust. This in no way takes away from some of the incredibly engaging ad formats and targeting methods that exist. They just occur less frequently than the arguably “poor” ad experiences. Consequently, this imbalance has weakened the consumer’s belief in the value exchange the industry posits to consumers: “Share with us your data and we will deliver you a better ad experience.”

    There is no singular solution to how the marketer—or rather, the industry at large—regains and maintains consumer trust. In fact, as an industry, we have a collective responsibility to play our part.

    The Road to Regaining Consumer Trust

    This starts with continued improvements in each of the challenges listed above: brand safety, measurement, identity, creative, and data quality. At the risk of over-simplifying, if we get these right, the results will have a ripple effect: the overall ad experience improves, consumers see tangible results that impact their lives, and trust is gradually restored.

    That’s step one. Further down the line, consumers will ultimately become more comfortable with sharing their relevant data, which then feeds back into marketers’ ability to continually improve the ad experience for the consumer. And the cycle repeats, continually building consumer trust.  

    In parallel, consider the impact that better communication with the consumer could have. The theme of “trust and transparency” runs throughout every industry conference, client, and partner conversation. While there are technology solutions being built to support this (i.e. blockchain, some components of header bidding, and others), the value of relationships is seeing a resurgence. People still matter in technology-driven transactions. What’s stopping us from applying this people and relationship-based approach to consumers directly?  

    Today, if a consumer is truly interested in where and how their data is being collected, they have to wade through paragraphs of legalese and likely don’t even know which companies and websites to look to. It’s a daunting and unwelcoming experience. As an industry, it’s time to think about how this critical information can be made more digestible and accessible to the consumer.

    Regaining consumer trust is no small feat, but the opportunity cost is far too great not to collectively get this right. While this is most directly a challenge for the marketer, an industry-wide commitment to restoring consumer trust stands to pay dividends.

    To hear Meridith speak on the customer experience at RampUp 2018, watch the session video here!

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