Lock and Key: AdMonsters 2024 Privacy Predictions

AdMonsters spoke with seven industry experts across the ad tech spectrum, who dared to take a deep look into the crystal ball with us and share some privacy predictions for 2024.

In 2024, users’ data is under lock and key. Not literally, of course, but with the fall of Chrome’s cookies and stronger privacy regulations popping out of the woodwork, it will be much harder for publishers to reach their desired audience. 

We knew this was coming, but theorizing something and experiencing it are two different beasts. Is the ad tech industry ready to slay this dragon and thrive in a privacy-compliant world?

Optimism exists, but as our contributors warn us below, the industry has its work cut out for it before achieving any success in this new privacy-first world order. 

While reflecting on 2023 and preparing for the uncharted waters ahead, we turned to some of the industry’s leading voices on privacy — from the buy and sell sides, and even in between — to dispense their privacy predictions for 2024.

There are fair warnings ahead — the slow burn to federal privacy laws, the lack of addressaibility, the wait and see mindset. But it’s not all grim — the convergence of ad tech and martech, testing Privacy Enhancing Technologies (PETs), data collaboration, and more.

Another Year, Another Stand Still on Federal Privacy Regulation

“Consumer demand for privacy continues, and targeted advertising is at the top of the list of concerns. However, the US is still unable to get federal privacy regulations across the line. Instead, the patchwork of state legislation continues to grow. Large technology platforms will tighten privacy features, and there will finally be fewer cookies by the end of the year. 

Buyers, sellers, and ad technology providers must invest resources to manage the increased operational overhead required for compliance. Leading publishers will also test new technologies to securely match info on consented users (like clean rooms), require more extensive employee training on compliance, and develop exciting new probabilistic matching solutions. These solutions will use advanced contextual signals, first-party data, and smaller sets of deterministically matched audiences to build new resilient targeting and measurement solutions.” – Maria Breza, VP, Ad Quality Measurement and Audience Data Operations at SXM Media

Rapid Fire: The Rise of PETs and Consented Data 

The future of PETs. There has been a surplus of chatter about privacy-enhancing technologies for the last few years. Yet, with the rise in restrictions on sensitive data, companies will start to invest more into understanding the viability of PETs to help them reach audiences in a privacy-protection way (rather than engaging in privacy theater). Regulators are also interested in this technology, but we should expect them to look at these solutions with a critical eye. They will employ experts to help them determine whether (from a mathematical perspective) publishers can use them to deliver and measure advertising without revealing individual user data.

*Note that clean rooms are not PETS; they must leverage PETs to offer a privacy-safe solution.

Experiments in consented data. I have yet to see a widespread effort to get opt-in consent for using sensitive information in the states that require it. Likewise, I haven’t seen companies take advantage of the ability to ask California consumers to opt-in to the “sale” of their data 12 months after opting out. However, the continual tightening of the faucet on data may push companies to have a change of mind. Companies may offer financial incentives or other benefits in exchange for consumer consent. Similar to companies experimenting with the “pay or ok” model in the EU, the shift in regulation will cause companies in the U.S. to think about whether business models here need to shift to weather these changes.” – Jessica B. Lee, Partner, Co-Chair, Privacy, Security & Data Innovations at Loeb & Loeb LLP.

The Era of CDPs

“Given that regulation naturally means fewer options to easily monetize customer data, centralization for storage and coordination of data will require a hub. Ad tech and martech further converge into madtech via the CDP. There are three main areas where this is paramount: 

  1. Segment Creation – Today, not enough marketers can leverage their marketing attributes to build segments from 0 and 1PD. Most platforms still require engineering to code the necessary attributes. There will be a requirement to democratize this task so publishers can build custom audience segments they can use more easily. Outside vendors have a greater likelihood of building extensions that handle this function.
  2. Data Collaboration – Moving data from platform to platform is complex today. However, there are several technical solutions to make this less burdensome. Building data collection and interactivity infrastructure will become a big business in 2024. The CDP is also at the center of these innovations, insomuch as they’re a required integration partner for this tech.
  3. Insight Data – Data and research companies may start to push market and behavior data to the CDP. Today, the data flows in the opposite direction, and brands and agencies send customer data to data and research organizations for monetization. Given the prediction on segmentation and data collaboration capabilities, it would be intuitive for brands to centralize the whole process of insights, segmentation, and transfer in their platform of choice – the CDP.

If the above occurs, we will see even greater adoption of CDP’s, but it’s unlikely that CDP’s will create these mechanisms for collaboration. We may see  vendor extensions into the software that enable these functions.” – Therran Oliphant, SVP, Head of Data & Technology NA at EssenceMediacom

The Decrease in Addressable Users 

“Expect to see the industry truly start to take privacy seriously in 2024. To date, most of the industry is trying to extract as much value out of a shrinking group of addressable users, and in 2024, that number will get so small that it will force many to find new ways to reach audiences.

The group of addressable users will shrink because of the end of cookies and the removal of IP addresses, regulations, and other changes. The industry will need to find replacements for the direct addressability of the past that is privacy-preserving and scalable, and not many current technologies cross that bar. There’s lots of work to do.” – Paul Bannister, Chief Strategy Officer at Raptive

In-App Mobile Advertising Deals With Post-IDFA User Acquisition

“Privacy continues to be top of mind in the mobile advertising ecosystem. Mobile app developers adjusting to post-IDFA user acquisition on iOS must adapt yet again and learn how to run UA campaigns without relying on GAIDs as Google rolls out its Privacy Sandbox. As it adjusts, our industry must find creative ways to navigate the challenges and mitigate the impact on ad revenue. Brand advertisers will also face challenges activating their first-party data, as matching it with supply-side data will become impossible without identifiers.”Linda Ouyang, VP & GM, Global Supply & Exchange, Digital Turbine

The Plight of Measurement and Addressability

The cookie is going away. Those who act like it’s already gone are in the best shape. Success boils down to two things – addressability and measurement. Addressability isn’t terribly challenging as identity graphs and clean rooms provide tools to reach desired audiences at scale across partners. The industry is still navigating successful measurement. The result can and will be partially modeled but must pass a CFO and FP&A smell test for believability at the highest levels.” – Jay Friedman, CEO of Goodway Group

A Year of Experimentation and Testing

“As we venture into 2024, the advertising industry is poised to significantly shift toward a ‘Privacy-First’ approach in personalized advertising. This year will consist of constant experimentation and testing, a period where the performance of campaigns may see fluctuations and instability. Marketers will need to adapt swiftly, exploring new methodologies for targeting and measurement.

Companies will increasingly tap into AI and machine learning, creating hyper-personalized content that respects user privacy. This involves leveraging aggregated and anonymized data to serve relevant ads, ensuring individual privacy remains intact.

Additionally, 2024 will witness a surge in transparency tools, empowering consumers to monitor and control how brands utilize their data. This will cultivate a deeper sense of trust and compliance.

In this era of experimentation, the advertising world will strive to meet privacy norms and seek to enrich the user experience. To adapt to these changes, the advertising industry must be nimble, ready to embrace new ways of targeting and measuring, ensuring advertising remains effective and respectful in an increasingly privacy-conscious world.” – Angelina Eng, VP of Measurement, Addressability, and Data Center at IAB.