AdExchanger Research: The Ad Industry Grapples With Angst – And Feels Some Hope – As The Privacy And Identity Landscape Shifts Underfoot

Identity Special ReportAdExchanger’s 2021 Identity Special Report takes the pulse of leading digital marketing executives on identity, privacy and the end of third-party cookies.

 Here’s a snippet:

The digital marketing industry is experiencing a period of transformational change. Third-party cookies, already blocked by default on Safari and Firefox, are being phased out by Chrome, the world’s most penetrated browser.

But the industry is divided as to whether the new solutions that are emerging to replace this core building block of digital advertising will actually improve consumer privacy.

Meanwhile, the identity picture is impacted by two other macro trends. Linear TV advertising budgets are shifting to connected TV, which offers advertisers digital-like targeting and measurement capabilities. At the same time, walled gardens have continued to capture even more consumer attention and advertising investment.

Closely tied to these important changes and shifts are the twin challenges of consumer privacy protection and proliferating data regulations.

As a result, we’re seeing a new identity ecosystem emerge. The promise of digital marketing and advertising is bound to an understanding of end-user identity – or, at least, detailed and unique user cohorts.

adexchanger research the ad industry grapples with angst and feels some hope as the privacy and identity landscape shifts underfoot

Yet, there are still many unknowns and unanswered questions about the future of identity that are still only in the early stages of being addressed – and, as demonstrated in this study, there isn’t agreement on what the outcome will be. Our readers hold divergent opinions on what these changes will mean for the industry.

But most are well aware of and actively pursuing options that aim to solve for the loss of third-party cookies. Solid majorities, as illustrated by our survey data, are collecting more first-party data, testing new identity resolution solutions and using contextual data more frequently. Just over half of digital marketers are tapping into second-party data and participating in industry data partnerships.

The one thing everyone agrees on, however, is that how identity is determined and used in digital advertising is in the midst of being wholly redefined.

New identity and privacy standards will be set over the next few years at the same time we’re likely to see continued rapid shifts in consumer digital media consumption and innovation by technology providers and media companies.

Insight #1: The industry is moving forward with email-based replacements to third-party cookies – yet digital marketing pros are split on whether these solutions improve privacy

The digital marketing industry is split in half on the question whether email-based identifiers are more privacy-safe than third-party cookies.

Forty-four percent feel email is more privacy-safe than third-party cookies, but another 44% disagree. Twelve percent simply don’t know.

Survey respondents were also asked to provide write-in comments (available to read in the report), several of who noted that how privacy-safe these solutions are depends on how the data is being handled, shared and stored.

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