Posted on March 10, 2020

What are some challenges facing the international ad market?

Featured photo

On February 19th, the larger digital advertising world converged in Berlin. The occasion: the Adzine Adtrader Conference, an event that, for the last decade, acts as a platform for discourse on the most pertinent issues of the day, from transparency to privacy and everything in between.

The AAX Team was in attendance, spending the day listening, absorbing and contemplating the insights gleaned from prominent speakers.

The tone of the event was set early on, when Dennis Buchheim, Executive Vice President and General Manager of IAB Tech Lab gave his keynote lecture, titled “Current Challenges of the International Ad Market.”

Since the contents of this lecture informed so much of the discussions that took place during the rest of the Adzine Adtrader Conference, we wanted to encapsulate the main points of Dennis Buchheim’s talk.

“The amount of growth and innovation and growth we’ve seen in the digital media industry is pretty astounding, when you look at how much has changed in the last twenty-six years since the first ad was served, how much innovation has happened,” said Buchheim. But, he added, “with that has come some challenges.”

There are a number of issues to contend with, states Buchheim. He expands, saying that the aim of IAB Tech lab is to bring together participants on a global basis, to tackle a number of issues that, despite being challenging, also create their own opportunity.

The issues to be solved include:

  • Identity, data, and privacy
  • Brand safety and ad fraud
  • Ad experience and measurement
  • Programmatic effectiveness

But the #1 issue, the one weighing heavily on minds around the globe? That, asserts Buchheim, is privacy.

Buchheim suggests that there are three trends coming together in the issue of privacy. It’s not just an issue of consumer trends, although that’s certainly an issue. And it’s not just a matter of the political and legislative environment, although, as Buchheim says, that “really set a tone, we’re not in the good graces.” For Buchheim, the key new privacy challenge comes from browser and device developers. This is the center of much of the privacy-centered change now emerging.

And, according to Buchheim, it had “just a pervasive impact on what we do.”

The IAB Tech Lab, continues Buchheim, partnered with IAB Europe to grapple with one of the most pertinent issues in recent technological history: GDPR compliance. Creating the Transparency and Consent Framework enabled companies to become GDPR compliant—and, what’s more, facilitated dialogue including both political and tech voices.

This mission turned out to be broadly useful, says Buchheim. It was possible to take what was learned by partnering with IAB Europe and work with IAB US to grapple with the newly-created CCPA.

The Technology and Consent Framework issues a roadmap, titled “CCPA and Beyond,” that outlines three generalized steps in the process towards solution-finding: legal interpretation, policy requirements, and technical solutions.

It’s also imperative to grapple with browsers making changes and, more broadly, competing in the name of privacy. The impacts of these privacy-related changes include, according to Buchheim, ad relevance, measurements, attribution, and fraud.
So where do solutions and opportunity lie? For Buchheim, authenticated (or authenticated light) is the name of the game. This tops the continuum of addressability: executing an advertising use case with a consumer login or explicit ID is ideal.

In other words, Buchheim says, “That’s the realm of explicitly saying ‘This is who I am. I expect you to personalize for me. I expect you to do certain things with my data. I have agreed to that.”

“This is how we get from where we are to a better architecture for advertising,” continues Buchheim.

Of course, he says, this should all be extraordinarily privacy-sensitive. There should be clear practices laid out across different processes. Not only that, Buchheim says, “there should be a compliance program and an audit across those practices.”

And, naturally, transparency plays a key role in all of this. The future of digital media is bright, but it relies on an understanding of transparency as, to quote Buchheim, “a tool that enables verification, that leads to trust, that leads to better practices…that ultimately leads to better outcomes.”