By Charlotte McEleny | digital editor

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December 14, 2021 | 6 min read

There is no silver bullet for the looming cookie-less future but more brands are turning to attention metrics and contextual targeting as solutions, according to industry leaders.

With privacy concerns driving major changes to how marketers can target, optimize and measure online advertising, The Drum and DoubleVerify gathered some of Southeast Asia’s leading marketing voices to discuss what solutions were being adopted and how.

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Contextual targeting is making a comeback. It’s privacy-safe, relevant, and it digs into banner blindness.

For many brands, one of the principal concerns around the death of the cookie is the impact it will have on personalization. Herbert Lam, head of digital marketing and partnerships, APAC at Sunlife, shares context as to why the topic of cookies and targeting is so top-of-mind for him.

“With the pandemic, lots of brands have shifted to offering more content across digital. There is just lots more content out there and everybody still only has a finite number of hours in their day, so everybody's fighting for that space. It is definitely easier to digitally reach users when it's more personalized,” he explains.

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Attention metrics, which is being seen as a way to establish consensus around the true impact of an ad, or as the metamorphosis of viewability, is starting to become an industry hot topic as well. The roundtable speakers agreed that in Southeast Asia, marketers weren’t yet at the stage of asking agencies for this but that it was being adopted by global brands and starting to filter into local markets.

Penny Langenfeld, director of programmatic sales, Southeast Asia, DoubleVerify, explains, “The US is definitely further ahead in terms of the adoption of our attention metrics but there's been a lot of interest in Asia. We are educating the market that this doesn’t have to just be for brands with big budgets, as it helps drive campaign performance – which is the goal for all advertisers. I think next year is going to be a huge year for attention.

Once advertisers have these attention metrics in place, they are able to plan and optimize their campaigns in multiple ways, including the placement and creative levels. In fact, according to eMarketer, 98% of marketers believe that by looking at deeper attention metrics, they could improve campaign performance and advertising outcomes, such as brand awareness and driving conversions.”

Sachin Dsouza, director of supply, APAC, Precision at Publicis Media, agrees with this notion, adding that attention is one of several strategies that brands should be looking at in tandem.

“Attention is a huge opportunity to meaningfully make an impact on addressable media, focusing on engagement, that exposure will make a huge difference to our clients. However, it shouldn't be considered a silver bullet, and should be combined with other forms of addressability, such as context, which is the most privacy-friendly technology that we have,” he adds.

The attendees all agreed that context was having a resurgence of interest due to its privacy-friendly nature.

Penny added “ Contextual targeting is making a comeback. It’s privacy-safe, relevant, and it digs into banner blindness".

When used effectively, marketers can drive placements to content relevant to their brand, continue to advertise on suitable news content, and safely avoid that which poses a risk. A DV/Sapio study found that 69% of consumers would be more likely to look at an ad if it was relevant to the content they were reading and 44% have tried a new brand due to seeing a relevant ad alongside a piece of content they were consuming.”

However, Mindshare APAC chief performance officer Nathalie Pelligrini, believes some clients may be hesitant as they aren’t aware of how far contextual technology has developed.

“Some clients or brands have been burned by contextual. For example, petroleum brands had ads served alongside oil spills. Even though they have been burned really hard in terms of publicity, we are making an effort to get those big players back onto talking context. Maybe the cookie-less world will convince them because there are new technologies,” she says.

As the scale of the impact that ID and cookie challenges are going to present is so huge, the group agreed that marketers needed to look at multiple fixes.

Drawing on this learning from the session, Deepika Nikhilender, senior vice president, APAC, Xaxis, explains, “It was a very clear realization that there is no one answer to take on the challenges that are coming around the future of identities. There are several levers that we need to apply to our strategy. That would be paying attention to the new metrics, such as attention. It could be elevating our contextual advertising to the next level and evoking a better response in our messages. We also need to see creatives using data to drive sharper creativity and elicit better responses. Finally, we will be using some of the new technologies, such as AI and machine learning, to drive the effectiveness of the investments of our clients. I think the realization was really loud and clear to me that we need to orchestrate through several of these levers to make those outcomes happen, rather than a simple silver bullet.”

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