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How AI can improve the consumer experience in a cookieless future
August 22, 2022
While Google’s decision to once again delay the phasing out of third party cookies gives the industry more time to prepare for the “death” of the cookie, it’s still imperative that brands and publishers act now to ensure they are best placed to deal with this seismic change.
It’s no secret that consumers have become increasingly hostile towards advertising, and that they are sick of being bombarded with invasive ads that have no relevance to their interests. These worsening consumer attitudes have been a key factor in the dramatic changes to the advertising industry, and providing a more pleasant consumer experience will be vital to building trust and driving growth in a cookieless world.
More money, more problems
As digital audiences have grown, so has the investment into online advertising. However, this money is often poorly allocated and used for increasingly outdated, intrusive targeting strategies, driving negative consumer sentiment. Brands have been pouring money into their advertising strategies, to take advantage of the growth of channels such as connected TV (CTV)/over-the-top (OTT) and audio streaming, but this has often led to strategies that are both hyper-targeted and wildly irrelevant to consumers.
We’ve all experienced it. Users are increasingly sick of being followed around the internet by an ad for something they searched for weeks ago or being bombarded with ads for something they have no interest in. Brands and publishers realize the need to take action to improve the consumer experience, now more than ever.
What solutions are available?
The end of cookies does not necessarily mean the end of the world for advertisers. Brands have a number of solutions at their disposal, both old and new, and if they leverage them successfully they can not only provide consumers with a more pleasant experience, but also ensure advertising as a whole is once again seen as a force for good.
One possible solution is first party data. Brands and publishers can leverage the information users willingly share with them to create more personalized advertising strategies, improving the consumer experience. They can also use the data consumers share with them to craft Unified IDs. Users share their email addresses with platforms that are then anonymized and encrypted into an ID that is shared only within that network, that is able to track users without the need for third parties. Brands can also look into driving organic traffic. This could mean something as simple as refining their SEO strategy.
These solutions, while simple, also come with limitations. In order to be truly effective, they often require expertise as well as effective strategic planning to ensure they are successful. Unified IDs often lack scale to be truly effective while first party data strategies lack reach and may require extraction capabilities that many companies simply do not have. Brands and publishers need a new solution to give these tried and tested techniques the boost they need for a cookieless world. Artificial intelligence (AI) could be that solution.
The power of AI
AI has now reached the stage that it is an invaluable asset to brands looking to refine their targeting strategies. It is now capable of reading and understanding editorial and advertising content the same way you and I could, only at a massive scale.
One form of AI I am familiar with is contextual AI. It works specifically on editorial content, analyzing text and images and taking into account factors such as tone and sentiment. The AI has been trained using machine learning and the campaigns that leverage contextual AI are much more agile and better targeted, improving the experience for the user.
AI will allow brands to move away from demographic advertising strategies that rely on third party cookies, and instead start to develop contextual profiles of their consumers. This consists of using the AI to analyse articles and find out exactly what their audience is reading in real time, allowing advertisers to meet their audience where they are, rather than using cookies to track them.
Brands can also take the insights generated from campaigns and apply them to other strategies, allowing them to take those tried and tested methods such as SEO and first party data to the next level.
Why is this important?
It’s important to remember that consumers actually don’t mind engaging with brands - it just requires the right strategy. Consumers don’t mind being served ads, as long as they are relevant to them. In fact, they are more likely to react positively to those ads whose content is aligned with their interests, which then makes them more likely to make a purchase.
All of this means that brands have the power to change the narrative around advertising. If advertisers take their consumers into consideration, they can counteract the worsening consumer sentiment and ensure that not only is advertising once again seen as a force for good, but also build valuable trust and positively impact their bottom line.