This article is part of our Future of Addressability series. Contributors are industry leaders invited to share their perspectives on how marketers can successfully navigate changes brought on by the deprecation of third-party cookies.
Our series heads to Australia this week with Alan Jenner, Tech Pre-Sales Consultant at LiveRamp in Australia, interviewing Garrett McGrath, Vice President of Product Management at Magnite, one of the world’s largest sell-side platforms. Alan and Garrett have each worked in media advertising for more than 20 years, so it’s no surprise that they both share an innate passion for identity and course-correcting the industry. In this Q&A, they focus on the importance of data transparency in rebuilding trust with consumers and maintaining their privacy.
Alan: With data privacy a hot topic now more than ever, what are your thoughts on transparency in digital marketing across the industry, and the role of privacy regulation?
Garrett: The industry loves to throw ‘transparency’ into every conversation, however I—and we at Magnite—take it very seriously. The only way our industry and the open web can continue to grow into a truly viable way to conduct business ‘at Internet scale’ is by operating openly and transparently.
This starts with the consumer and needs to be the refrain we all measure ourselves against throughout the entire supply chain. Data privacy regulation is continually evolving, and we are working with our partners to ensure that they are supported throughout these changes as well.
Alan: Do you believe customers are ready for or already embracing these privacy changes? How important is it to educate businesses and customers on advertising transparency? Is it the role of the industry to build this education?
Garrett: Overall, the average consumer is more aware of the concept of data privacy and it’s critical that education is available for those who want it. I wouldn’t say we need to put up a PSA video in front of every site and app explaining how ad tech works, but it is absolutely imperative that we operate our business in such a way that when there are questions or interested parties, we can easily and succinctly respond in a way that nontechnical people can understand. While there are lots of details and moving parts to what we do, the truth is, it’s not all that complicated.
Alan: How do you think upcoming regulations and changes will impact the future of marketing? Can you provide an example?
Garrett: GDPR, CCPA, and the like are very important developments. They are resetting the privacy landscape toward a user-first paradigm, which is exactly where it should be. That being said, change is not easy, and it takes time. From a marketing industry standpoint, these privacy regulations will speed up the need for open-source, standardized identity solutions. For the health of the open Internet, identity will be a shared community asset instead of something that individual companies use for competitive advantage in the near future.
Alan: Speaking of the future, with Google’s announcement earlier this year to remove support for third-party cookies, how do you see the future of identity evolving in a world of cookieless advertising? Can you share examples of how this is already playing out in the market?
Garrett: I think we’ll end up in a situation where the Internet is anonymized by default, and there will be options for web visitors to opt in through a value exchange, providing some level of pseudo identification for convenience, content, or an improved experience.
In some ways, tactics we’ve seen before, such as contextual advertising, may see a bit of a comeback.
We should also pay attention to the fact that we continue to move toward browser-less environments like mobile app and CTV—and that all this focus on cookie deprecation may miss a lot of the bigger picture discussions around identity.
Alan: How are industry leaders like yourself preparing marketers for a cookieless future?
Garrett: From a high level, we are working toward a combination of solutions around first-party identifiers, publisher first-party data, privacy differential cohorts, and (maybe) some of the ideas sketched out in the Privacy Sandbox proposals.
Day to day, we work closely with both our sell-side and buy-side partners to understand their unique goals, and try to craft strategies that can accomplish those goals, knowing cookies are already on their way out.
Alan: Lastly, going back to consumers—the end goal for everyone, regardless of where you sit in the ecosystem, is enabling great customer experiences. Can you share your thoughts on what these experiences might look and feel like in a post-cookie future?
For the long-term health of the advertising ecosystem, the industry should move to a collaborative and more human model. Consumers should be able to receive the information and content they want without having to give up their right to privacy in exchange.
To make this a reality, identity needs to mature into an open, transparent dialogue with consumers, in which users know what data they are providing, how it is being used, and how they can control its use or opt out all together. Providing these tools and controls removes the identity unknowns the industry has collectively created by using third-party cookies.