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By Jenni Baker, Senior Editor

November 18, 2022 | 5 min read

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As part of The Drum’s Data & Privacy Deep Dive breakfast session, leaders from Permutive and Space & Time discuss the importance of the first-party data collaboration between advertisers and publishers to responsibly make invisible consumers visible, and why the time to act is now.

'Reaching the invisible 70%' Data Deep Dive at The Drum Labs

'Reaching the invisible 70%' Data Deep Dive at The Drum Labs

As an increasingly empowered public get into the habit of saying no, it’s estimated that advertisers can reach only 30% of consumers – with the other 70% having gone data dark. With iOS updates making it easier for consumers to opt out of tracking and the deprecation of third-party cookies on Chrome on the horizon, is there a way for advertisers to make invisible audiences visible again?

The answer lies in creating scale through more direct first-party relationships between advertisers and publishers, using adtech as an enabler not an intermediary. That will help rebuild trust in advertising and ensure there is a fair value exchange with consumers in a way that is privacy-safe, according to Andra Mititelu, business director, audience platform for advertisers at Permutive.

Speaking at The Drum’s Data & Privacy Deep Dive breakfast alongside Chris Jones, chief executive of digital marketing agency Space & Time, the panelists agreed that the industry has been so focused on changing privacy regulations and tech policies that we’ve almost forgotten about the consumer.

But when looked at through the consumer lens, you’ll see that all these things are happening to provide consumers with the choice to be in better control of their data, not to say no to advertising altogether but to opt out of the data used by adtech to collect, process, package and sell on to third-party companies that have no direct relationship with them.

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“Consumers now have more choice, and they are deciding to exercise the choice that is given to them by privacy changes,” said Mititelu. “They are opting out of their data being used by the ad tech layer in the middle but they’re not necessarily opting out of direct first-party relationships with brands and publishers they know and trust. They understand that where they have a direct relationship with a brand and there’s a fair value exchange, they don’t mind sharing that data."

Weighing in with advice on how Space & Time is supporting clients on this journey, Jones added: “Brands need to understand their customers and their first-party data better – whether it’s through customer acquisition, customer retention, customer value – whatever the metric is. The adoption of the right analytical structure and data ecosystem to facilitate that has been relatively slow so we’ve been doing a lot of education on it – not just in the marketing, comms or tech teams, but there’s a much broader remit here and senior leadership needs to be involved in a lot of these decisions.

“You need to have a very clear pathway to best understand what you’re trying to do and what the value of those customers look like. You need to provide all the tools to do all these things, bring leadership in and create a strategic goal that you can aim for. The data will support that growth but you can’t do one without the other. Don’t lose sight of the experience that you provide to customer – that will become a real benchmark for how brands measure success. Establishing that as a legitimate goal within your organization or your brand will be critical. It all comes down to your customer.”

So, how can advertisers reach the 70% of consumers who have gone data dark?

“We’ve created so much complexity in the adtech ecosystem that it’s about time we take responsibility and clean it up to find a better, cleaner, smarter way of doing things,” said Mititelu. “Advertisers and publishers are the two end points that frame the digital advertising ecosystem, so they’re in a good position to continue to use consented consumer data in a way that is scalable while respecting consumer privacy and choice. This will also help address the challenge around consumers going dark, because publishers can still see them, advertisers can still access them. And this way of working is more sustainable because it reduces the complexity that we have created within ad tech.”

Watch the full discussion for more insights on reaching the invisible 70% in the video above.

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