• A major new industry organization could drive a new direction for digital ads. Formed earlier this month, the “Partnership for Responsible Addressable Media” (PRAM) is designed to create new standards for digital advertising and analytics. 

    It includes major trade organizations—the American Association of Advertising Agencies, the Association of National Advertisers, the Interactive Advertising Bureau, IAB Tech Lab, the Network Advertising Initiative, and the World Federation of Advertisers—as well as major advertisers such as Ford, GM, Proctor & Gamble, Unilever, and IBM; agencies including Publicis Media and IPG Mediabrand’s UM; tech vendors The Trade Desk, MediaMath, Adobe, and LiveRamp, and publisher NBCUniversal.

    The initial group of participating brands “joined because they understand how important the changes to cookies and device-based IDs are to their ability to execute digital advertising campaigns and run their businesses,” IAB Tech Lab President Dennis Buchheim told RampUp.

    ‘Ad industry coming around’

    The creation of new digital ad standards could fill the vacuum in ad targeting and other practices as third-party cookies fade away and new privacy regulations emerge.

    Google and Apple are phasing out support for third-party cookies, which have been key to targeting users who aren’t logged in. Although they are not listed as PRAM members, LiveRamp Senior Vice President Travis Clinger told RampUp that those two companies—whose participation would seem to be essential—are connected through their involvement with the IAB Tech Lab.  

    “This is the ad industry coming around,” he said.

    Buchheim said PRAM is, essentially, the equivalent of the Tech Lab’s Project Rearc, but writ large. Launched in Q1, Project Rearc—shorthand for re-architecture—was established as a “global call-to-action” to develop new technical standards and guidelines that support both ad addressability and privacy. Rearc will continue as an IAB project, Buchheim said, acting as the technical arm for PRAM.

    Three kinds of users

    PRAM’s digital advertising and analytics standards will be based on several principles, according to its announcement. These include technology standards for consumer privacy, support for ad targeting, interoperability across platforms, and accountability. In addition, standards for business practices; privacy, policy, and legal considerations; and communications & education will be developed by three other PRAM working groups.

    Instead of third-party cookies as a means to targets ads, Clinger and Buchheim both see a similar breakdown for how digital ads will address users in the new landscape, where there are three main classes of users:

    • Anonymized users who see ads contextually related to accompanying content. Web pages about stocks, for instance, would contain ads for financial services.
    • Authenticated users who have given permission for ads oriented toward their preferences and behaviors. Users who log onto CNN.com, for instance, might see ads for credit cards because they often view the financial pages on those sites, and they have allowed CNN to target them with ads related to their site behaviors.
    • What Buchheim describes as users in the “middle,” where ads leverage users’ preferences and behaviors, whose details are kept inside a user’s browser; for example, in Google’s proposed Privacy Sandbox. In this scenario, an ad could be directed toward users whose browsers indicate they belong to certain “flocks,” which are groups of users with similar attributes and behaviors. Users in a flock interested in financial news, for instance, might see ads relating to stock-oriented services.

    ‘Privacy by default’

    Buchheim noted that the upcoming tech standards—the first drafts of which are expected by Q4 —are not directly intended to prohibit, say, third-party cookies, and they won’t specifically support any of the emerging new user ID schemes that could replace some of third-party cookies’ functions.

    But, he noted, PRAM could set standards that make third-party cookies or a given ID solution invalid.

    It’s “to be determined” how strong the standards will be, Clinger said, and whether their enforcement will “have teeth.” One form of enforcement, he noted, could be standards-based certifications from trade organizations. Agencies, brands, vendors, and others might be encouraged to avoid doing business with those who do not meet the standards.

    “The world of advertising has become tracking by default,” Buchheim said. “Now, it needs to be privacy by default.”

    Want to learn more about how you can adapt to the post-cookie world? Register for RampUp: Worldwide Virtual Summit. It’s free!

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