Early days of GDPR
May 25th 2018 – GDPR-Day – has come and gone. And following the interim distraction of the industry’s annual jamboree in Cannes, publishers, advertisers and ad tech vendors are now starting to understand its effect and implications for their businesses and map out the road ahead.
The clampdown on using consumer data without consent (and the difficulty in many cases of obtaining that) has led many market observers to tout GDPR compliance as an opportunity to return to using context as a method to target ads. This is the drum that Smartology has been banging for many years; indeed it’s our raison d’etre. Early fall out, post 25th May, is proving us right.
There are countless topics we could cover, but we’ve focused on three that we feel are particularly pertinent with regard to contextual advertising:
- Initial reduction in ad supply and demand volumes in Europe
- US news outlets block access to European readers
- Google agrees to implement the IAB transparency and consent framework
Supply and demand volumes initially down
On 25th May, Digiday reported that European ad demand volumes had already ‘plummeted’, with sources quoting a reduction of between 25 and 40 percent. Overall supply from publishers was down on exchange, due to the drop in the number of sites – especially those in the US – supplying inventory in Europe.
There are signs that ad spend is starting to recover; meanwhile at Smartology we’ve seen no decrease in demand or supply on inventory across Google Ad Exchange, Index Exchange and AppNexus. Why? Because we target ads on our premium publisher sites based on what a consumer is currently reading, rather than their previous online behaviour (which requires their personal data).
Our semantic matching technology analyses content at an article level to contextually target ads; this is highly effective regardless of GDPR, but the new regulation makes it even more pertinent. It is the answer to personal data targeting that had become standard practice. When context is undertaken well, it returns results that easily match, and often better, those from user-based targeting.
Hardline by US publishers
Some US publishers have taken a hardline stance in choosing a general blackout for readers in Europe, deeming this course of action more straightforward than complying with the regulation on day one. Many outlets, such as media company Tronc, decided to block access to their online publications, including the Chicago Tribune and LA Times. Users trying to access the sites since 25th May have been confronted with a message saying it is unavailable in European countries.
Smartology’s answer? We work with a whitelist of more than 50 premium publishers, all of which are still running ad creatives on their sites within Europe. Because they use our contextual advertising technology, SmartMatch™ (outlined above), they are GDPR-compliant and can therefore continue to serve ads. This also benefits advertisers, who don’t have to freeze budgets or watch bid win rates fall due to lack of consent.
Google Adx does an about turn and agrees to adopt the IAB Transparency and Consent Framework
Google initially adopted its own GDPR framework. Vendors have to be certified as compliant to join the initiative and more than 600 third parties have been accepted so far. However, it is not interoperable with the IAB’s equivalent Transparency and Consent Framework (TCF).
This has created an environment where third party vendors, including demand side platforms (DSPs), have to work with two frameworks that share consent between publishers and advertisers across the ecosystem.
Shortly before (G)D(PR) Day, Google backtracked, announcing that it would provide support for the IAB’s TCF, and this is currently expected to take place in August.
In an already complex world, Smartology welcomes the move to a single framework for the industry. Until that takes place, SmartMatch™ is fully integrated with the Google and IAB options.