What Is Edge Computing?

Privacy is fast becoming the single most important macro trend in adtech and will dominate the next decade. It can no longer be gamed: when the EU and the largest company in the world tell you to change, you have to change. Apple’s ITP has moved quicker than regulation, meaning that for half of the web, adtech no longer works. Third-party cookies have shattered the open web into 1000s of publisher-sized pieces and no longer can third-parties aggregate and utilize user data across it.

The third-party data industry, worth $19bn in the US alone, is living on borrowed time and publishers are understandably worried.

Yet this is a huge opportunity to quite literally gain a competitive edge. Publishers can re-establish themselves by embracing their unique and valuable relationships with audiences. They own the user relationship and have the legal and technical means to process that data.

It requires building and adopting technology to both put privacy first and create an ecosystem that fairly values their contribution. It means eschewing the cloud, which by its nature stands opposed to privacy, in favor of edge computing, where data is processed on the device it’s generated on.

Publishers should take a lead from the tech titans: Apple reconfigured for the edge four years ago and Google has spent the past year re-architecting its infrastructure for it. For further validation on why it matters see their and Facebook’s recent announcements from developer conferences.

What is Edge Computing?

Edge computing is a relatively unused term in advertising today. At its basic level, it means computing that takes place at or near the source of the data, instead of relying on the cloud.

What Does This Mean for the Advertising Industry?

For publishers, you can process data on the device that generates the data, rather than on a remote cloud server. By doing this you are able to minimize data leaving the user’s device and protect their privacy.

What Are the Benefits of Edge Computing?

For any publisher, this is becoming the only way to process data in a privacy-compliant way. User data (by design) is protected because it never leaves the device. This means a publisher can process data in a world without cookies and with increased government regulation (even under its strictest interpretations). Most importantly they are future proofed for a world where privacy is no longer a nice-to-have but the only way to do business.  

The benefits of edge computing also go way beyond just privacy:

  • The speed of processing trends towards 0 milliseconds with no network requests. There is literally no latency, meaning a publisher can understand and target passby traffic in real-time.  
  • Accuracy: publishers can deploy highly accurate models trained on the device with access to 100% of data, not the samples commonly used today.
  • Cost is reduced exponentially as computation is distributed across free edge resources. This gives freedom to do much more than publishers currently can with prohibitive cloud storage costs.
  • Resilience sounds small but is significant because processing continues on the device even when network/cloud goes down. Think about how this can affect mobile users.

The New Edge in Advertising

Companies that track users across publishers, fingerprint or hack identity, or rely on third-party cookies will find life increasingly difficult in the advertising ecosystem. Publishers can protect themselves from existing and future privacy requirements and take this opportunity to build thriving businesses with edge computing at their core.