Cookie concerns outweighed by mishmash of data laws

data requests 2The demise of third-party cookies might be vexing the minds of marketers worldwide – despite Google’s assertion that they will not be axed until 2024 – but it is the patchwork of data protection legislation that is really giving professionals sleepless nights.

That is according to IAB’s State of Data 2022 Part II: Preparing for the New Addressability Landscape report, commissioned by IAB and executed by MediaScience, which includes qualitative, in-depth interviews with senior-level, data decision-makers at brands, agencies, and publishers.

The report highlights privacy legislation, the deprecation of third-party cookies and identifiers, and platform policies that affect data collection, addressability, measurement, and optimisation for digital advertising and marketing.

2022 marks the fifth year and sixth installment of the research, which aims to understand market readiness for rapid shifts around data use, privacy and addressability, and provide an overview of scalable solutions brands, agencies, publishers and ad tech firms can adopt today while protecting consumer privacy.

IAB chief executive David Cohen said: “While Google’s decision to postpone the deprecation of third-party cookies until 2024 may feel like a reprieve, the industry is far from off the hook.

“The sector is already operating with significantly less signal given the changes by Apple, Firefox, and others. Consumers need transparency and control. We need addressability and measurement solutions that are privacy-by-design and fully compliant with state, Federal, and international standards.”

Creating consistent measures and protocols that work inside their companies and with external partners has become a major issue. In the face of rising complexity, the majority of respondents agree a “one size fits all” approach spanning multiple jurisdictions is probably necessary. But there is a significant trade-off: failing to leverage data that is fully permitted in certain regions means lost opportunities.

The senior-level, data decision-makers at brands, agencies, and publishers interviewed for this study agree that consumer trust is paramount. Yet the value proposition for consumers remains unclear. While the industry is better about disclosing what data it will use, it is not doing enough to help consumers understand why gathering their data delivers real benefits.

Investing in deterministic first-party datasets remains vital. Yet, in most instances this only represents about 20% of potential consumers. Marketers need proven, probabilistic solutions to target and measure the 80% of consumers who are not part of their first party data.

Ironically, privacy legislation may benefit platforms and publishing giants while inadvertently punishing smaller publishers who have small but intensely loyal audiences.

While there are a range of third-party tools that can help power data collection and enrichment, only a handful of interviewees have the budgets to test these new approaches. The consensus is that there are too many tools and not enough resources to test or manage them all — particularly among smaller publishers.

In the EU, the unified GDPR still rules supreme but in the US, there is as yet no single principal data protection legislation, rather hundreds of different laws on both the federal and state levels.

In the UK, the Government is currently planning to overhaul the UK version of GDPR under the Data Protection & Digital Information Bill 2022-23. The main aim is to make it more “business-friendly”, although some experts have warned it could end up costing firms more, while others believe it could create a mishmash of laws to comply with.

IAB programmatic and data centre vice president Angelina Eng said: “With third-party cookies, the sky has been falling for more than a decade. No wonder there’s a deepening disconnect between how prepared senior-level, data decision-makers feel, and how prepared they actually are. But no matter what happens with cookies, the rising tide of patchwork regulation is already here.”

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