opinionPeople trust banks and they don’t need to be educated about what they actually do with our money. How we pay for online media with advertising should be the same.“We need to better educate consumers about cookies and how they are used in digital advertising”
How many times have you heard it, or iterations of it?!
Every time I hear it over the years, I get so frustrated. Clearly, to me, this is a complete self-serving narrative that the industry likes to fall back on as an excuse for lazy and outdated practices.
We have to stop blaming the general public for not technically understanding how cookies work and how they are used in advertising. They don’t need to know.
To explain why I feel this way, I wanted to look outside and look at another industry, one outside of our own rose-colored lenses that we all seem happy to wear within advertising.
Consider using your daily banking provider. When you hand over your hard earned money to them, do you understand exactly what they are going to do with your money? How and where are they going to invest it? How do they make money from this? How much money do they make from this? Do you also think that why banking is provided free of cost to the consumer (in most cases)?
I bet that, for most people outside the finance industry, the answer to these questions is no.
The Reason? People trust banks. They rely on strict regulation and legal framework that exists. They rely in large part on the establishments they bank with.
As a consumer, I don’t need to know what the bank is doing with my money. I just want to make sure that my money is safe, that I can access or delete it whenever I need it, and that it is safe and is being used in compliance with the law.
Additionally, do I question the fact that banks make money from my money? Again not because I understand the value that the bank provides to me through a free service and I am happy with that value exchange.
Bringing it back to advertising, the average consumer doesn’t need to be educated or know the technical intricacies about how cookies are set, used, whether good or bad, how they are passed between parties. can be done. They just need to know that what is being done with cookies is safe, legal and can be accessed or deleted whenever necessary.
The future of the open web is at stake
So how exactly do we build trust in digital advertising?
Ultimately it has to come down to better frameworks, better regulation (which is more easily enabled and implemented through better frameworks), harsher punishments for bad actors, less creepy use of ‘predator’ type advertising tactics.
Within these frameworks we also need industry to play its role. If I quickly go back to the banking example, modern developments such as open banking mean that different parties can share your very sensitive information with each other, but of course this is not done without explicit consent . It is enforceable through regulation and auditable through robust framework.
The recent news around the transparency and consent framework is a prime example of how players in the advertising industry often abuse the framework to the detriment of the industry as a whole.
Just because a framework technically allows something to happen (and I’m not saying that TCF doesn’t have any security flaws that need to be addressed), doesn’t mean it should. Needed unless express and legal consent has been provided.
I don’t want to downplay the framework and the difficulty of law enforcement and compliance, especially given the global nature of digital advertising. We are seeing many different forms of legislation being issued in different sectors and this means that companies operating globally need to ensure that their compliance is relevant to the locations where They are reaching the audience.
Ultimately, consumers are just becoming more and more digitally savvy and now is an important time to get this right to support the longevity and efficacy of digital advertising.
There is too much at stake to do this wrong with regards to the future of the open internet.
James Diba is Director of Client Operations at TPA Digital (formerly Programmatic Advisory).