The traditional fabric of digital ad targeting, identity, is being ripped up thanks to major changes. What could replace it?

Deprecation of third-party cookies poses a profound threat to the accepted norms of ad targeting. now Apple is also turning off its IDFA, an iOS user profiling technology, unless users turn it on.

In this video interview with Beet.TV, Stephanie Layser, News Corp VP of advertising tech and operations, assesses the options.

Impact & opportunity

“With these changes, a lot of the core pieces of digital advertising are being disrupted,” she says.

“Identity is really core to digital advertising. Being able to do frequency-capping, being able to do targeting, being able to do attribution – it’s all based around this idea of the identifier.

At this point in time, there’s really an opportunity to re-architect a more privacy-safe internet, but also do that in a way that is fair for all of the different members of the ecosystem.”

Context’s moment?

As identity is being up-ended, Layser thinks contextual ad placement – the practice of siting ads adjacent to relevant context, rather than targeting the users of content – holds promise.

It is actually something more akin to traditional, analogue ad placement techniques. But, these days, a host of companies has developed technology to understand the inner meaning of articles and videos

“Contextual advertising could absolutely be one of the ways in which our industry moves into a more privacy-safe internet,” she says.

“I think this really opens up an opportunity for us to lean more into context and lean more into custom integrations, custom content, things that really help with the top of the funnel and driving brand affinity for marketers, versus what digital advertising has always been since its inception, which is very direct response focused.”

Layser says News Corp wants to invest in advertising approaches that allow ad buyers to create positive affinity, not just those which allow everything to be measured.

March as one

That said, Layser does think a grand swing to contextual could be difficult without a consensual approach.

“If we create a new internet that is uneven, where some companies have identity, some companies can still do personalised advertising and can still continue to mine data from users versus others, we won’t move towards contextual,” she warns.

“What we’ll move towards is marketers moving towards those platforms where they can continue to do personalised advertising, and then contextual becomes a much less effective way.

“If, across the board we all moved to contextual, and advertisers see that as the way that they want to buy and sell advertising, then yes, I think we as an industry will move that way.”

This video is from a Beet.TV series title Advertising in a Time of Privacy-Centricity presented by AppsFlyer. For more videos from the series, please visit this page.