Restoring Consumer Trust Through Closer Advertiser and Publisher Collaboration

Trust chain as business concept stock photo

By Katie Millington, Head of Publisher Sales for North America, Permutive

The activities of digital advertisers have increasingly been placed under the microscope of regulators and lawmakers across the globe. Many of the once favored methods of targeting and tracking consumers online are no longer utilized due to increasing data privacy concerns. Firefox and Safari have already blocked third-party cookies, while Apple has overhauled its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) and Google continues to progress its Privacy Sandbox proposals for Chrome. To add to this, just last month, The Federal Trade Commission announced it is considering cracking down on “harmful commercial surveillance” and “lax data security”. This shows that the progression by these regulations is just the beginning, as the ‘privacy-first’ agenda continues to strengthen.

It is clear that consumers agree with these new restrictions being placed on advertisers. In fact, more consumers than ever are opting out of tracking and are rejecting all cookies in order to protect their own data. Recent research makes this clear, revealing that almost 90% of consumers are now choosing to spend money with a brand that is committed to protecting their personal data over one that doesn’t.

When consumers “reject all” cookies, programmatic advertising no longer works, so advertisers must consider alternative strategies today.

A new role for the publisher

Consumer privacy is now a priority, but advertisers and publishers still need to drive revenue. So how do they make this happen? Reduced addressability means a new system for buying and selling media is required. By migrating to first-party, non-personally identifiable, consented data, this can be achieved – and publishers already have data and contextual insights about their audiences.

Publishers must now leverage this valuable first-party data and educate advertisers on what is both possible and privacy-compliant. They are able to use the trust placed in them by their audiences to provide advertisers with accurate data and insights, without compromising consumer privacy.

Publishers are already aware of the behaviors and interests of their audiences, as well as the number of site visits and their fluctuating browser habits. Event registrations and subscriptions provide a deeper level of understanding which can be used to create profiles on their users and to organize individuals into anonymized ‘cohorts’. These are groups of people with similar characteristics and behaviors, who can then be targeted by advertisers.

Keep it direct

Now is the perfect time for more direct relationships between the buy-and sell-side to be created. To rebuild consumer trust through responsible marketing and safeguard themselves from increased privacy regulation, advertisers must work more collaboratively with publishers. This includes reducing the number of parties involved and reducing the possibility of data leakage, which is impacting trust. With a recent study stating that 78% of people believe companies are responsible for protecting consumers’ personal data, it is the role of the advertiser to ensure that privacy is prioritized.


Advertisers have their own first-party data as well, which can be combined with the deeper insights and cohorts that publishers have on offer. Using this fully privacy-complaint process, advertisers can still serve relevant ads to consumers who are most likely to be interested.

Reaching relevant audiences at scale on the right channels will always remain important in advertising. But following increased privacy concerns, reliance on third-party trackers must be reduced, with publishers’ first-party data and publisher cohorts being used in their place. This ensures that the right consumers can be targeted without the need to identify them individually.

First-party publisher data in marketing campaigns will play a major role in building a more responsible web. So advertisers and publishers must combine forces to  restore consumer trust within the digital marketing industry.