Since their inception over 25 years ago, web browsers have amassed a tremendous typist. They are both a source of supply and demand, while holding the key to user data. This performance gives browsers a gigantic impact on users’ Internet access. While the industry is discussing and debating the evolution of advertising beyond third-party cookies in a user-centered way, another question arises: is it a fair game for a team to play on the offensive? Defense and also be his referee?
Neutrality leads to transparency
Sports metaphor aside, relying on an independent third party to control the advertising process isn’t a radical idea. An independent agency (or “gatekeeper”) gives users the visibility and control they need. This facility would support the exchange of values between the advertiser and the publisher and allow the ecosystem to remain neutral about the collection of advertising data.
Today’s browsers offer a one-way view of privacy based on their worldview rather than a cross-sectoral approach. Many of these companies have strong business interests, either directly through advertising or through revenue from App Store subscriptions. They are therefore far from independent of what they consider acceptable practice. Advertise or not.
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The browser proposals discussed in the W3C also jeopardize the exchange of values that make the Internet work. Browsers need to limit the number of advertisers who can participate in an auction, which reduces publisher revenue. Because browsers do not allow advertisers to deliver advanced auction models, publishers can afford less funding to deliver free content to users. And advertisers will have a harder time protecting themselves from fraud and knowing where their ads are showing.
Data protection and experience are not mutually exclusive
Of course, users want visibility into the data stored and greater control over how their information is used. However, that doesn’t mean they’re ready to compromise access to free content. Because that’s what the Internet was founded on. With the introduction of a new, trustworthy “gatekeeper” from third-party providers, this dichotomy need not be mutually exclusive. By removing the browser from the advertising decision, the industry can protect user privacy. The trusted third party is responsible for protecting and anonymizing user data at the campaign level and ensuring that the advertising ecosystem never accesses users’ personal data.
However, when browsers start processing bid requests, they have to download all of the digital assets required for possible ads and process a lot more data, slowing down page load times and draining all batteries on users’ devices. A third party could take on the role of storing the resources required for displaying advertisements, thereby relieving the burden on user terminals.
An independent third party could also allow users to have more long-term control regardless of how their data is shared or how they accept or decline advertising in order to personalize their experience.
Any independent entity that executes bid requests in real time and maintains control of the associated data must be neutral and not collaborate with others in the ecosystem. Such a trusted third party could be an actor such as a cloud service provider or an SSP that acts as an intermediary with the advertiser due to its existing technological infrastructures and pre-existing integrations with publishers. And we can consider the existence of several guardians.
Ultimately, industry participants should be able to decide who their gatekeepers will be, with transparency and compliance with the principles of operation being essential. Every gatekeeper should be checked regularly by cross-sector bodies such as the IAB or the MRC.
Unlike browsers, the trusted third party must ensure that no user data is reused that could be protected by dedicated governance. This new company would likely get some compensation as a service provider and have no interest in playing or bending the rules as its entire business depends on its reliability.
The advertising industry is at a crossroads. Browsers have been in the driver’s seat for nearly 25 years, and it’s time this ecosystem worked together for a more privacy-friendly internet. The industry can either take the path of simplicity – building on existing concepts and infrastructures built in the 1990s – or take the more innovative path of redefining an Internet that puts user interests above all else. .
Some may think that browsers just won’t give up their control, but we will have to fight to make it happen.
The future of digital advertising is ahead, but it will require industry-wide collaboration. It is time to face this situation by regrouping and figuring out how to enable independent and independent inspectors to set up.