What’s wrong with accountability for data protection? Wednesday’s daily brief

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Good morning, Marketers, do you ever find yourself worrying about what’s getting lost through digital transformation?

The pandemic has accelerated the transformation as well as the anxiety. We cheer for easy mobile payments and delivery orders. We fret over the limits of remote learning for children.

One of the things that interests me most about covering martech is the way marketers find ways to bring back old habits or reinvent them. Take coupons, for instance. The transition from print to digital curtailed this old habit. And the in-store, person-to-person restrictions over the last year dealt coupons another blow. But this leaves an opportunity for retailers to use digital channels to reinvent the social aspects of couponing, including the time spent clipping and occasionally showing off to fellow shoppers. The solution from StitcherAds described below isn’t so much about replacing coupons as filling the empty box in a shopper’s mind. It’s in the same spirit that more traditional publishers could possibly get into the TV game through streaming if barriers to entry are lowered.

It’s also in the same spirit as our fast-approaching MarTech conference. Whether you miss attending live events because of the lockdown or you’re just breaking into the industry, this event is sure to deliver. There are 65+ sessions, but the sheer volume of discussion and expertise isn’t all. Since I’ve been behind the scenes, I can say I’m amazed by the efforts to make MarTech as palpable as it can be. Workshops, Q&As, meetups, keynotes, the editorial voices behind MarTech Today, and more. All without the long food lines. Brew your favorite blend of coffee from the comfort of your home office. Cheers to old habits reimagined!

Chris Wood,


Accountability and transparency from new digital standards  

IAB Tech Lab’s Project Rearc, initiated a year ago, today bore fruit with the release of a portfolio of proposed standards. The IAB is calling for comments and feedback.

The standards. The specifications and best practices comprise two platforms and two addressability-related releases.

  • The Accountability Platform aims at ensuring that all ecosystem participants can demonstrate that they are complying with user preferences. It includes specifications for open, auditable data structures, and standard practices.
  • The Global Privacy Platform aims both to give users reliable transparency and control over their data, and to support efficient compliance for industry participants in an environment where regulations vary from region to region, and the evolution of regulations is ongoing.
  • Taxonomy and Data Transparency Standards to Support Seller-defined Audience and Context Signaling is an attempt to bring order to the contextual advertising space, where hitherto there has been inconsistency in specifying content and placement when making inventory available.
  • Best Practices for User-Enabled Identity Tokens provides security and privacy guidelines for identifiers tied to a user-provided email or phone number.

Google’s intervention. The Best Practices for User-Enabled Identity Tokens was an anticipated element of the standards Project Rearc set out to create. The tokens are at the heart of the solutions being offered by a range of adtech and data players, including The Trade Desk, LiveRamp, Infutor and Neustar.

What seemed to be an uncontroversial move to introduce best practices for those tokens has been disrupted by Google’s announcement that, with the deprecation of third-party cookies, it will also renounce any kind of tracking — even tracking based on first-party data voluntarily offered up by the user. Google has said it will not build or use alternate identifiers to track users across the web.

Why we care. However belatedly, advertisers, publishers and tech vendors seemed to be doing the right thing by coming together to develop an ecosystem which respected consumer privacy. Google has disrupted the effort by rejecting the kinds of first-party-based identifiers that offered an alternative to third-party cookies. But right now, there are questions to be answered about how secure FLoC will be. This story is far from over.

A social approach to coupons

Ad and shopping experience platform StitcherAds launched Digital Circulars and Catalogs this month. StitcherAds specializes in driving sales for retail partners through social channels like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. The new solution lets retailers surface personalized products and deals to customers on these social media platforms. The ad units also have the capability to connect shoppers to the nearest store to take advantage of the special offers.

What do coupons look like on social? Here are some of the components that StitcherAds covers:

  • Personalization that optimizes from first- and third-party sources to deliver relevant products;
  • Messaging that displays points and status updates for loyalty customers;
  • Converts print creative from traditional circulars into digital ads by allowing marketers to create branded templates;
  • Dynamic overlays to include localized offers, pricing and all the “fine print” on each product

Why we care. For retail marketers, the ability to measure and manage the ad budget is the biggest advantage of these digital coupons. This solution localizes social media ads, and how better to do that than by emulating coupons? For chains with robust mobile app-based loyalty programs, this will engage customers who haven’t cleared the high bar it requires to download your app.

Lowering streaming barriers for publishers  

A new solution in the streaming space lowers barriers for publishers to break out in ad-free streaming. Were this to take off, TV watchers might have the ability to choose from many linear-style channels produced by their preferred news sources. Just picture your favorite websites or magazines as stations, à la Vice.

DistroScale, a video platform for publishers, has launched its DistroTV solution, which takes video content created by publishers, stitches it and distributes it as an ad-supported station.

Co-founder and CEO of DistroScale Navdeep Saini told us, “The big change here is no upfront costs, which I think is revolutionary. Typically publishers have to pay several thousand dollars a month or more to syndicate the channel at each endpoint, and pay fees for dynamic ad insertion.”

Instead, the company takes a cut of the ad revenue on the back end.

Viewer types. Saini said he sees video consumption as split into two main categories. On the one hand, viewers go into “lean in mode” to search out specific content in a focused way for favorite TV shows or specific news stories. Then, there is “lean back mode,” where viewers just want to relax and watch a favorite category of content, like sports or news.

Saini said he thinks there’s a limit to how many subscription services viewers are willing to pay for. This opens a lane for free ad-supported television (“FAST”). Since its launch in 2019, DistroTV has grown to more than 150 live streaming channels.

Why we care. Marketers need to meet their audience where they are, and TV remains an important source of entertainment and news. For subscription services, fragmentation poses a problem because viewers have to make multiple payments to see everything they like. Free ad-supported stations are likely to support more fragmentation because they offer real variety at no additional cost to viewers. Having a solution that lowers barriers for traditional and legacy print publishers to serve 24/7 linear stations will feed this demand as the streaming industry matures.

Quote of the day

“A friend told me there are two ways to approach your data. You can gather all your data together and ask it a question. Or you can approach it like a data scientist and torture it until the data comes up with the question.” Theresa Kushner, Practice Lead for Data as an Asset, NTT DATA.

About the author

Chris Wood
Chris Wood draws on over 15 years of reporting experience as a B2B editor and journalist. At DMN, he served as associate editor, offering original analysis on the evolving marketing tech landscape. He has interviewed leaders in tech and policy, from Canva CEO Melanie Perkins, to former Cisco CEO John Chambers, and Vivek Kundra, appointed by Barack Obama as the country's first federal CIO. He is especially interested in how new technologies, including voice and blockchain, are disrupting the marketing world as we know it. In 2019, he moderated a panel on "innovation theater" at Fintech Inn, in Vilnius. In addition to his marketing-focused reporting in industry trades like Robotics Trends, Modern Brewery Age and AdNation News, Wood has also written for KIRKUS, and contributes fiction, criticism and poetry to several leading book blogs. He studied English at Fairfield University, and was born in Springfield, Massachusetts. He lives in New York.

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