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Published on October 28th, 2020 | by Stephanie Gutnik

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Why Privacy is Important to Out of Home Advertising

Stephanie Gutnik

Stephanie Gutnik Digital Transformation at OUTFRONT Media


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Growing up, my family home had an alarm system which we used diligently, and I maintained this habit after leaving the nest. To this day, I gawk at friends who do not lock their doors, yet they see no issue.

Safety, security and privacy are synonyms for our comfort level of exposure to risk, something very personal when thought about in terms of physical spaces and possessions. And when translated to the digital world, the subject becomes more complex.

Throwing my hat into the ring of perspectives about new privacy regulations and changes in ad tech, my approach is pragmatic. When it comes to out of home media, ads are intended to efficiently reach vast audiences and be seen by multiple viewers at a time, making it privacy-compliant by nature. Announcements that challenge current audience targeting through third-party cookies and attribution workflows do not mean targeted media is going away. When it comes to the range of data platforms and partners that can be layered into OOH strategy for various targeting and measurement initiatives, they have the opportunity to find new ways to operate in the ever-evolving privacy landscape. Collaborative efforts led by the likes of the IAB are well underway.

Ari Buchalter, CEO at Intersection, recently shared this sentiment and emphasized how well-positioned out of home is for upcoming changes. Cookies were introduced by Lou Montulli in the early 1990’s so a consumer’s shopping cart could retain its items from webpage to webpage – something we take for granted today and that most consumers likely want to remain in place! The out of home industry does not inherently use cookies. Five years ago, this made out of home seem incompatible with an omni-channel approach and difficult to buy. Today, however, out of home is viewed as a safe way to target audiences based on location and context. Digital out of home is nimble by nature and designed to work in the same dynamic ways as digital counterparts, from dayparting to data-driven ad serving. Moreover, the optimizations made to accommodate a cookie-less reality in other channels can still be applied to reach consumers and measure campaign goals in out of home buys.

Privacy laws, like GDPR and CCPA, further shift the privacy framework for companies in the ad tech space. When GDPR was originally in the works, companies were terrified of what this would mean to their business, yet most found ways to continue to provide their services in a compliant fashion. Did some businesses fail? Absolutely. But the majority are in a better place than before. This same concept is true for CCPA and can be applied to the decisions of tech giants in the privacy sphere, like Apple’s upcoming revisions to the IDFA (identifier for advertisers).

Taking it back to the physical world, we typically choose to deal with service providers we trust. Hairdressers. Doctors. Animal sitters. Why should it be any different for out of home? Out of home stakeholders may rely on a variety of data providers and tech platforms depending on campaign goals, so we need to be smart about it and ensure our partners are compliant with the most recent laws and regulations. We can only gain from applying learnings and best practices in real time, as the medium increasingly merits new attention from digital buyers and platforms. Context is quickly becoming an important means of targeting online and is an integral element of OOH’s identity, making it a logical and effective aspect of the modern marketing mix.

In a cookie-less world, OOH takes the cake.



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