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Predictions Series 2022: How to Win in an Opt-In Era

The growing patchwork of state privacy laws, along with a possible new bipartisan federal privacy bill prohibiting companies from tracking consumers online without their opt-in consent, point to a new era of opt-in consent for at least much of the traditional online collection of consumer data. Opt-in doomsayers believe this legislation could cripple the entire advertising industry because consumers will have more meaningful control over their privacy, and authenticated audiences will shrink as a result. However, the trends that have shaped the market can be bucked, and publishers and advertisers have an exciting opportunity to create a new ecosystem in compliance with the opt-in marketplace that benefits everyone involved – including consumers. Further, the browser and device manufacturer changes that are already in-progress are already moving the industry towards a more logged-in environment, in which it becomes easier for consumers to opt in as they authenticate.

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Where to Start in the Opt-in Era?

As we look towards an opt-in era in the future, it’s important that publishers and marketers consider how the industry arrived at this point, and the lessons they can take away from this journey.

Under the opt-out default, it’s easy to see that the consumer experience has been lacking, and a lot of that falls on technology. The opt-out default enabled the propagation of third-party cookies, and the collection of data – often in a way that was not as transparent as it could have been for consumers.

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Clear notices that inform consumers about data collection are still not used by all marketers and publishers. They’re becoming much more the norm now, but that’s a recent development and partially driven by the deprecation of the third-party cookie. In addition, it is extremely difficult for consumers to express their preferences across hundreds of websites, due to the siloed options provided by advertising technology vendors. To opt-out of cookie-based advertising today, you have to opt-out of hundreds of cookies and then make sure to not delete your opt-out cookie.

The Hidden Key to Opt-Ins

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Consumers have, and will, proactively opt in to publishers and advertisers collecting their online data for marketing purposes, but only when they understand a company’s practices and intentions. A best practice is to inform customers what they are giving and getting in the value exchange.

Publishers and marketers can provide incredible consumer experiences, and by being transparent about that value exchange they can deepen the trust of the consumer, enhancing their ability to collect and leverage consumer data with the consumer’s consent. Accenture found that 73% of consumers are willing to share more personal information, if brands are transparent about how it is used, including for personalized experiences.

With the deprecation of third-party cookies, the largest publishers and advertisers have already started building sustainable first-party data strategies that obtain authentication in exchange for real value. Publishers and advertisers have more than enough time to add transparency and value to their value exchanges so that when the shift does happen, consumers will be willing to opt-in. Getting users to authenticate now with clear notice and choice is 90% of the work needed to get to an opt-in state.

Publishers and brands will have to offer more valuable incentives in order to entice consumers to engage in value exchange – but fortunately, there’s no limit to the amount of value that they can provide to reach their objectives. Whether it’s easy inroads like email subscriptions, social logins or content walls, or more advanced tactics like loyalty rewards or limited-time offers, they should take advantage of all of the strategies and tactics that are applicable to their businesses.

The Value Exchange and How to Move Forward

Beyond just developing customer intelligence, or working to comply with the latest regulations, anticipating the ecosystem’s shift to some flavor of opt-in will set publishers and advertisers up better for the long run. As the ecosystem has re-aligned to prioritize consumer trust and transparency, value exchanges have become critical for publishers and marketers to power their data-driven marketing.

When consent is no longer implicit, publishers and marketers will see a drop in their performance – that’s just human nature. However, they can continue to drive people-based marketing by developing identity infrastructure rooted in value exchanges for consented information. When these value exchanges present clear transparency, full data control, and above all, valuable content and experiences for consumers, we believe consumers will show their clear preference for participation.

Our Authenticated Traffic Solution shows us what is possible in a future that includes a heavy dose of opt-ins. With powerful results for publishers and advertisers, ATS has already seen widespread adoption, with more than 1,000 publishers and distribution partners worldwide who have integrated with ATS – including 70% of the US Comscore Top 20, and 60% of the US Comscore Top 50.

The roadmap is there for publishers and advertisers – they just have to follow it.

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