DSP 'contextual' targeting offers solution to strict GDPR regulations

Programmatic online advertising will not cease to exist because of the GDPR or the proposed ePrivacy Regulation. Personal data may seem essential to digital advertising, but it is not the only way to target a relevant audience. Targeting based on context was a reliable method for decades before we came to rely on collecting and cross-referencing vast amounts of intrusive data. If data leakage is solved then contextual targeting is a quick fix for the industry as it struggles to adapt to GDPR.
Brands, and agencies acting on behalf of brands, use Demand Side Platforms (DSPs) to place advertising. Analysis of every leading DSP’s marketing material reveals that they offer ‘contextual’ targeting that requires no personal data, in addition to ‘behavioural’ targeting that relies on personal data. In other words, DSPs are already able to target based on content and context without exposing themselves and brands to the legal hazard of using personal data. This provides a safety net for brands, who can continue to use DSPs to reach audiences once the GDPR and ePrivacy Directive apply, provided those DSPs are using contextual targeting. (For context on where DSPs fit within the complicated structure of advertising technology see the Display Lumascape).

DSP Offers contextual targeting
AdMantx YES
MediaMath YES
InviteMedia (by Google) YES
Turn YES
EfficientFrontier (Adobe) YES
theTradeDesk YES
Chango (Rubicon Project) YES
Simpli.fi YES
Sitescout YES
Digilant YES
Acuity YES
AdBuyer.com (MBuy) YES
Brandscreen No information available*
Choozle YES

* Brandscreen was reported as having again been placed in administration in late-2016 and we could find no clear information on its current status.
Moving on to companies found under other sections of the the Lumascape, but which actually operate as DSPs, TubeMogul – listed under Ad Networks and recently acquired by Adobe – calls contextual advertising an “essential component of programmatic advertising” and uses external partners to enable dynamic analysis of URLs to determine context and content. In fact, external partners such as Grapeshot and Peer39 are behind much of the contextual targeting carried out by DSPs.
Whether DSPs implement their own solutions for contextual targeting or use external partners, forthcoming EU regulations will not mean the end of programmatic advertising.
And that may be a good thing, especially for brands.
Selecting where to place an ad solely based on context enables an advertiser to avoid the minefield of the GDPR or the ePrivacy Directive and is safer for brands, with analysis of content offering the potential to weed out sites that exist to farm ads or include unsuitable content, while avoiding any impression that the brand is involved in the kind of invisible user tracking that is becoming increasingly unpopular around the world.
If you work for one of these DSPs or in another section of the Lumascape, please tell us what you’re doing to future-proof your company against the GDPR and ePrivacy Directive. Leave a comment below, tweet at @PageFair or email us at [email protected]
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