High Desert Recap: Consumer Trust & Marketplace Disruption in Advertising

One question dominated conversations among publishers and platforms—along with a new crop of challenger or “disruptor” brands—at this year’s IAB ALM: How can we as an industry win back consumer trust?

It takes an advertising village

From security breaches at brands they’ve come to know (and trust), to Facebook’s recurring privacy issues—it’s evident that consumers are increasingly wary of what’s happening to their personal information. With numerous studies showing that people are more likely to do business with companies they trust, this is a big problem.

As Rik Van Der Kooi, the new chairman of the IAB board of directors and head of Microsoft Advertising noted, the challenge lies in delivering greater transparency and consumer data protection, in a way that technically allows our various platforms and systems to continue to operate.

So what’s the solution?

There’s no silver bullet, but it’s clear that it will take a collective effort. Be it regulation around data collection and privacy, working to remove fraud, or better educating consumers about how their information is being used, each link in the ad value chain has to take concrete steps toward gaining that trust back.

Can publishers take the lead on cleaning up the ecosystem?

While publishers are actually the closest to the end user (and their data), most of the innovation around safety and transparency has been driven by companies on the buy side. Roundtables and informal discussions made it clear that this year, the focus will be on solutions aimed at helping publishers directly combat malvertising and fraud.

The thinking is that by capturing information at the impression vs. ad request level, security companies can better prevent malicious behavior like bad redirects. While partnering with smart vendors will be key, ultimately I think publishers and platforms will still need to consider a hybrid approach of third-party tech and internal blocking capabilities to protect their brand and maintain their user experience.

Of course we can’t forget about the seemingly never ending conversations surrounding privacy. As regulation heats up with GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act, it’s no surprise that we’re doubling down on delivering more transparent practices and better online experiences. But gaining back consumer trust for the long haul is clearly going to require advertisers, publishers and platforms to come together to iterate, innovate and inform.

Can disruptor brands teach us how to better connect?

Then there was quite a bit of chatter around brands like Away, Zeel, Billie and Lola, and how their direct-to-consumer marketing tactics are changing the landscape of our business.

One counterintuitive takeaway was that these disruptor brands are using both digital and analog channels to create relationships (and trust) with consumers, in a way that has allowed them to
capture market share far more quickly than their more “traditional” brand counterparts might have in the past.

From fighting fraud and bad actors, to protecting user privacy, it’s no surprise that as an industry, we’re doubling down on delivering more transparent practices and better online experiences. We have a lot of work to do in 2019 if we truly want to work together to win back consumer trust. Let’s see how far we get and what new partnerships will take shape as the industry charges towards better transparency and consumer protection.