Heard And Seen: Execs At IBM Watson, LiveRamp Talk Ad Targeting

Sudden shifts have become common in online advertising, especially during the past few months.

Marketers had to deal with changing consumer behavior as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdowns as well as Apple's choice to implement App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework. Then Google announced it would delay the phaseout of third-party cookies in Chrome as it reviews options.

One of those options is interest-based contextual ad targeting, based on topics without cookies.

Google already uses topic targeting. It allows advertisers to place an ad on a website page about those topics, whether it is music or furniture design or something else. The ads can appear on any page across the Google Display Network that have content related to the selected topics.

Travis Clinger, senior vice president of addressability at LiveRamp and an IAB Labs board member, said LiveRamp remains committed to moving advertisers past cookie-based systems. “It just works better,” he said. “We use the analogy of 3G vs 5G in mobile. … We also see higher CPMs on Chrome.”



When asked about the possibility of Google moving from cohorts to targeting by topic-centric IDs associated with subject matters, Clinger said it would align more with Microsoft’s Parakeet, an acronym for private and anonymized requests for ads that keep ethnicity and enhanced transparency.

Clinger favors Microsoft’s proposal. He said Parakeet cohorts are based on topics.

“I think Google’s concerns are fair,” he said. “You must prevent user identification when there’s not appropriate permission. And unfortunately, there have been some reports about FLoCs enabling fingerprinting.”

Sheri Bachstein, GM at IBM Watson, shared what she is seeing in terms of Apple's ATT. Marketers are shifting some spending from iOS to other platforms, despite their need and intent to target consumers on iOS devices.

While Apple released ATT in April, The Weather Company app did not begin to use the tracking notification until June. Apple required all developers to add a do-not-track prompt to their apps, she said.

For the Weather Channel app it took about four weeks for users to update and adopt the latest release. By Q3, the weather app will show the impact of ATT.

“We put out a message with the open prompt that told users why we wanted to track them,” she said. “That it helps protect the open web and helps to pay for the weather data we provide. … if you educated users it helps for them to say, 'okay'."

Marketers are still buying iOS inventory, but at a lower price, because they don’t have the data to prove its value.

“Publishers that have iOS users who opted out and have done nothing to mitigate the loss are probably seeing between 30% to 50% lower CPMs,” she said. “By this time most publishers are probably doing some sort of mitigation to offset the impact.”

Bachstein also said that marketers are starting to depend more on contextual targeting like weather data such as rain and humidity to reach audiences. There are hundreds of triggers, such as soda or coffee drinkers.

Companies and ad agencies are actively forming relationships to support these changes. This week, Merkle announced partnership with ActionIQ to expand identity triggers in customer data platforms.

Merkle completed a full integration of its Merkury identity platform in ActionIQ to support consumer identity and digital customer profiles.

The integrated solution enables marketers to maximize personalization outcomes. The idea is to increase leads, boost conversions, and improve audience intelligence, effectiveness, new customer acquisition, and revenue generation.

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