With privacy legislation and brand safety at the forefront of the advertising industry in Canada, it was no surprise that this year’s IAB Canada Business of Digital event focused on these very topics. The annual event, held by IAB Canada, brings together thought leaders from across the industry to speak on the current challenges facing marketers. This year, Quantcast’s Head of Global Publisher Platforms, Seth Forman, was invited to kick off the event, discussing the importance of consented first-party audiences in a cookieless world. Seth’s keynote gave an overview of how consumer privacy concerns have impacted the industry, why this contributed to the cookie conundrum, and what steps marketers can take to prepare for a privacy-first cookieless future. 

While many events have shaped our industry, Seth focused on two “pivotal events that created tremendous awareness about the issue around consumer privacy”: the Edward Snowden and Cambridge Analytica scandals. As Seth explained, the biggest issue was that consumers did not understand how data about them was being used. These events raised public awareness and contributed significantly to the growing trend towards increased privacy regulations around the world. According to Statistics Canada, Seth said, “consumer awareness continues to grow, and in 2020, 74% of Canadians have taken at least one action to protect their personal data, such as restricting geographic tracking, denying personal data for advertising purposes, changing privacy settings to limit personal information, and / or checking websites to ensure their personal data is secure.” 

With this in mind, Canada and other governments around the world have turned their attention to online privacy legislation. Seth followed with a data point from a recent Gartner study which mentioned that 10% of countries now have consumer privacy laws but by 2023, 65% of the world’s population will have its personal information covered under modern privacy regulations.

Organizations are also turning their attention to privacy concerns. “The anti-tracking movement and the depletion of third-party cookies is not something new,” Seth said, adding, “Apple’s been leading the way since 2017 when they put forth their Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) initiatives and have been followed by Firefox and now Chrome.” Big tech organizations are now adapting to a cookie-free world. Seth emphasized the importance of finding deeper connections with audiences and fostering trust in light of third-party cookie deprecation: “The key part–and the essence of–first-party audiences is really the idea of how you can build and grow a deeper connection with your users in a consented way.” 

In conclusion, Seth gave marketers three tips on how to prepare for a cookieless future and gain consented first-party data:

  1. Review your consent and data privacy strategy. Understand how you collect and use incoming data and how any third party uses your data: “This will be very important once regional laws have been established, serv[ing] as your foundational layer.”
  2. Focus on compliant first-party data collection. Make sure you are getting consent where you need consent: “You need to make certain you have compliant first-party data collection to avoid penalties and be consumer-first in your approach.”
  3. Test different solutions; now is not the time for consolidation. With the increase in identifiers, it is crucial to test different approaches to see what works, uncover any potential opportunities, and be agile as the industry evolves: “Even if you carve out a small test budget, you will get many learnings that will help you prepare for the future.” 

The increase in privacy regulation and anti-tracking movement will continue to shape the industry. “At Quantcast, our mission is to ensure a free and open internet, and the fact is the open web is paid for by advertising,” Seth continued. Thus, “as an industry, it’s more important than ever that we find alternatives to third-party cookies that ensure the consumer is part of that journey.” Seth concluded that when consumers have the ability to be part of the value chain, we can then build a sustainable path for a free and open internet. 

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Interested in Learning More?

To learn more about the Quantcast perspective on major trends and solutions for the cookieless future, check out In a World Without Third-Party Cookies, What Happens to Advertising on the Open Internet?