Google’s Privacy First Announcement: Why it’s Urgent to Take Full Control of Your Technology

The advertising industry is in a transitional phase where all players are trying to balance audience data-rich advertising’s efficacy with the imperative to protect user privacy and consent.

We believe that the quest for efficient advertising performance should never infringe upon the end user’s rights. We also believe that publishers and their partners have legal and moral obligations to inform the consumer about how data is used and honor their choices. 

We have long advocated for media companies and advertisers to grow, control, and protect their first-party audience data – a valuable asset – while respecting those users’ choices. Healthy user relationships should remain their focus. As an early adherent to GDPR and other privacy initiatives, this is a big part of what Smart stands for. 

Last Wednesday, Google announced their approach to identity and privacy. The primary point of this communication was that they will not support identifiers they don’t own. 

To most of us watching, this should not be a surprise. 

Google’s market scale, including its ownership of Chrome, gives the giant a unique ability to define its own way of solving the identity challenge. Their exclusive user relationships have been the foundation upon which they have built their marketing platform and controlled access to their walled garden. 

This announcement crystallizes some essential truths

  • Google’s official position makes it clear that they will operate apart from the rest of the industry. We now know how the game should be played. 
  • Once again, this proves that Google is competing with the Open Web, favoring its own properties, such as Google Search or YouTube. The Open Web now needs to stop relying only on Google’s tools and build an open, independent, and accessible ecosystem. 
  • This decision is a reminder for publishers that they need to reconsider their foundational technology choices. 
  • Survival in an open ecosystem requires publishers to take full control of their technology, which begins with their adserver. 
  • Publishers will need to embrace transparent, flexible, and open technologies to leverage their first-party audience data, contextual capabilities, and alternative IDs. 
  • These changes will empower publishers to better serve their advertising clients. 

Following is an overview of Smart’s development efforts around identity. As an independent adtech player, we participate in major industry initiatives, and we are building flexible and agnostic solutions to help our customers succeed in the post-cookie world. 

Smart's three key efforts prioritize transparency and accountability to end-users

  1. Targeting without user IDs because users will not always consent to share their personal information. We are developing contextual and performance-driven cookieless targeting options, and we are actively testing in parallel cohort-based approaches like Google FLoC. 
  2. Vertical integration and first-party data activation to deliver a true value exchange and enable the user to share their data with the publishers and brand they trust. 
  3. Support of alternative IDs because in a fragmented market, publishers and buyers will need a common way to share data in compliance with user consent. 

We will keep working actively with all the ecosystem players to transition as smoothly as possible to the cookieless era. Publishers and advertisers need to see this event as one more alert to keep experimenting with alternative strategies. There is no silver bullet in the new advertising marketplace to tackle the user privacy challenge.

I invite you to discuss identity and related topics with our team. Change is coming and there is an excellent opportunity for innovation at Smart and among our partners to solve issues and move the industry forward. We will do this together with effective collaboration and genuine respect for the shared interests of advertisers, publishers, and end-users.

Contact us to discuss our identity solutions and how we can help you take control.

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