Longtime readers (‘cause I’m sure I have so many) will know a fascination of mine over the years has been the true transformation of data into an actively used currency, particularly in terms of buying access to media. Heady stuff, I know, so let me break it down.
Whenever anyone calls Internet content free (still happens), I’m quick to respond, no, you’re allowing advertisers the chance to reach you and giving parties (because usually there are several) access to your user data. Call the latter the unspoken handshake, though publishers across the world are increasingly informing users of their cookie policies on first visit.
As far as the consumer is concerned, this is a passive transference of data – they have no granular control over sharing, just the ability to enable private browsing or ward off third-party cookies. But as cross-device campaigning pushes the digital advertising industry to lean less on cookies and embrace new forms of asset identification (e.g., device IDs, probabilistic IDs), the ability is emerging for consumers to take agency of their data, as last year’s OPS Keynote John Battelle put it. I think I’ve just seen the next step toward that goal.
At ad:tech San Francisco the other week, I caught up with TRUSTe CEO Chris Babel, who got me up to speed on the company’s latest endeavor: TRUSTed Interests. Last year in my two parter on the future of device IDs and cross-platform targeting, I described the mechanism developed by TRUSTe, AdTruth and Pubmatic to enable mobile users’ opt-out of various device IDs. Basically, they tied an opt-out cookie to the operating-system based identifier (e.g., Apple’s IDFA); when an integrated network or exchange receives an ad call with said identifier, they recognize the opt-out cookie as well.
TRUSTe has taken this a step further with TRUSTed Interests. Now when a consumer options to opt out, he or she can personalize ad preferences based on categories. But wait – wasn’t the AdChoices/AboutAds program supposed to do that? Well, it offer a blanket opt out, as well as the ability to nix certain operators. TRUSTed Interests allows consumers to categorically customize their “opt-out” cookie, sharing their interests directly with advertisers to facilitate more relevant advertising.
Will consumers bite? Time will tell, and I will watch. I’m intrigued by the straightforwardness and ease of TRUSTe’s interface, which I believe will be welcoming to consumers. Despite a lot of belly-aching, I believe users understand that the majority of digital media is backed up by advertising; if the advertising was more relevant, they’d belly-ache less. TRUSTed Interests seems like a crucial step in enabling consumers to take agency of their data, and it’s channel-neutral setup seems to only enhance its long-term potential.
Oh, and scale helps – TRUSTe just announced today that 33 networks now use its TRUSTed Ads product as their mobile advertising privacy solution.