The digital advertising industry must tackle misunderstanding with transparency and relevant ads, according to Improve Digital.
Ad revenue yield optimiser, Improve Digital, believes the online advertising industry must be transparent about its operations and offer value to consumers in the form of relevant ads if it is to overcome the current misconception about cookies.
This comes as discussion continues about the ethics of behavioural targeting and advertising following recent articles in national US and UK newspapers.
Behavioural targeting enables relevant ads to be served to a pre-defined target audience, which increases the value of publishers’ inventory and allows advertisers to see better returns on their budgets. However, it also enhances the online experience for consumers, who see adverts that relate to their interests.
The general opinion that perceives cookies as ‘bad’ is encouraged by a lack of consumer understanding, believes Improve Digital. This is reinforced by recent research from TNS showing that 65 percent of consumers think that targeted advertising is an abuse of their privacy, despite 64 percent saying they would welcome ads tailored to their tastes.
Improve Digital also points out that the adverse opinion of cookies is in contrast to the popularity enjoyed by offline store loyalty cards. These also rely on companies collecting, storing and harvesting customers’ personal data to provide offers that are relevant to them. However, this activity is rarely perceived as an intrusion of privacy precisely because it is offset by a tangible value to the customer.
With this in mind, Improve Digital believes there are three activities that need to take place for the online advertising sector to convince a sceptical audience about the value of behavioural targeting:
Communication: The industry as a whole (advertisers, publishers, ad networks and exchanges, technology providers, etc) must take responsibility for ensuring that easily-understood information is widely available to everyone.
Transparency: Organisations using behavioural targeting must be rigorous with regard to being transparent about the way in which they collect, store and use consumer data.
Delivery: Having collected data, organisations must ensure that they treat it as a valuable asset, using it to deliver real, tangible benefits back to consumers.
“It is tempting to write off current discussions as scaremongering, particularly as the main opponents of behavioural targeting are people outside the digital marketing industry,”