Last week we held the fifth installment of the Global Quantcast INNOVATE Webinar series titled “The Rallying Cry for the  Open Internet.” Our Co-founder and CEO, Konrad Feldman, discussed the complexity of consented audiences and identity, the current digital advertising ecosystem, and what a long-term solution for identity could look like in the future.

You can watch a recording of the full webinar here, in case you missed it. 

A Rallying Cry

Konrad kicked off the session with today’s challenge: Ad tech sits at a crossroads and the future can appear far less certain than it was just a year ago. He then delved into four major themes that will be the focus of countless debates in the year ahead:

  • Good content – that informs, entertains and connects us – is generally very expensive to create and is mostly supported by the ad-funded economic model
  • Identifying consumers in a world without cookies will be difficult
  • First-party data will be more important than ever
  • Consumer consent and the consumer’s role in the open internet economy will increase
screenshot of Zoom presentation

Q&A Highlights

Konrad was joined by Taylor Corr, Head of Corporate Sales at Quantcast. As moderator for this webinar, Taylor led a dynamic Q&A session with questions that he fielded from the online audience. Here are some of the highlights:

Question: In your presentation, you talked a lot about where we see identity going and the importance of the role consumers will play in this evolved ecosystem. How do we overcome consumer fears?

Konrad: This points to what I like to call the original sin: we’ve let everyone believe the Internet was free. With the media and advertising industry, we should do a better job of helping to explain to consumers what we do and what we don’t do. And that’s something that’s really important. I think there was a lot of nervousness from marketers in Europe around GDPR. People now generally have the choice of where their data is shared. We see very high consent rates — typically 90% or higher — so there is a conversation that needs to be had. We need to deal with some of the fear mongering that exists there and we need to provide options and choice. Again, not just notice, but real choice to consumers.

At the Crossroads of the Open Internet and Consent - The Original Sin

Question: You mentioned the Internet is not free and content needs to be paid for somehow. Do you think we’ll see a rise in paid content and subscriptions to offset the loss in ad revenue?

Konrad: The reality is that the number of publications that are able to generate sufficient revenue off of subscriptions alone is tiny. There are a lot of people who can’t afford subscriptions. Probably the majority of the global online community can’t afford those subscriptions. We want news and information and education tools to be widely available to everyone; it shouldn’t be the domain of a few. 

Question: What about directly compensating users for their first-party data? Do you think that will happen and help with consent?

Konrad: I think that’s part of the original sin. Consumers are compensated for their first-party data because they have access to this incredible range of free content which is very expensive to create and maintain. People have to be paid to do their work, there is a lot of technology and skills that are required, and it costs a lot of money to operate a digital business. That is a part of the problem. There hasn’t been a conversation around the fact that audiences are the currency for advertising. It is advertising that pays for it and everyone benefits when it’s done properly. Good advertising is more relevant for a consumer and more valuable for a marketer, which funds more content. And that’s part of the challenge for the conversation.

Question: TV is a reliable channel from an identity perspective, but you don’t get a lot of depth and diversity of data. Are we going to see the digital data environment shift to one where it’s a bit more reliable and we get less data from our consumers?

Konrad: Most of TV today has limited data, but obviously digitally connected TV — CTV and OTT — has more data. So of course that is going to grow. It’s a good environment and marketers are going to want to meet consumers where they are spending their time. There are differences in these environments as far as the types of identifiers, but this is one of the exciting prospects of properly solving identity because we are not just doing it for one device — we can do this across devices and we can start to understand and create better experiences. We can also understand the combined influence. 

Improving advertising is a symbiotic relationship: it works for everyone. It’s not like for someone to win, someone else has to lose. Everyone gets to win and thrive together — publishers, marketers, and, most important, consumers — all win when advertising is more relevant and more useful. And I truly believe that’s the promise. That is the way in which the open internet at large becomes as easy, reliable and performant for brands to buy as the walled gardens. That’s when we start to see the realignment of spend. Marketers would love to have alternatives but equally they have got to hit numbers, so we have to make it simple for ad dollars to be effectively deployed on the open internet reliably with the sort of performance and scale that marketers need to get the results for their stakeholders in-market.

1st party cookie vs 3rd party cookies

Question: Smaller content creators who don’t have a large first-party data footprint: What is their path to survival in this environment?

Konrad: Almost no one has a large first-party data footprint. For those that put up registration walls, they are probably disappointed by the number of people registering. The vast majority of publishers and marketers do not have a deterministic identifier for people visiting their site. For many, it’s less than 10%. It’s a challenge for everyone. 

These are the solutions we are working on. We believe that by working together and combining the probabilistic scale of identifiers that we manage through Quantcast Measure with deterministic data that can come through mechanisms like Permisio, we can help create a solution for the industry that will offer a sufficient level of scale and fidelity so we can continue to do many of the things that are essential to how the internet works and is funded. Be that measurement and insights, campaign delivery, optimization, and attribution — all of these pieces need an identifier and I think collectively we can create solutions that are better for everyone in terms of the clarity we provide to consumers. Consumers are already at the center of this ecosystem, but they are going to be much more directly involved in terms of their consent and their data rights as well.

On-Demand Webinar.

Excited to hear more and want to watch the webinar in full? Check it out here.

About Quantcast:

Quantcast is an audience intelligence and measurement company headquartered in San Francisco. Combining machine learning, a privacy-by-design approach, and live data drawn from more than 100 million online destinations, Quantcast provides software, information and advertising services for marketers, publishers and advertising agencies worldwide. Founded in 2006, Quantcast has employees in 20 offices across 10 countries.