Why User Consent and First-Party Data are Vital to the Future of Advertising

In association with Permutive.

Following her appearance at ATS Madrid, Permutive's Julie Vuibert discusses why user consent and first-party data will be integral to advertising of the future in this exclusive byline.

User consent and first-party data are now valuable commodities in advertising, and publishers hold the keys.  

A wave of privacy-related changes have disrupted the entire advertising industry, and it goes beyond the deprecation of third-party cookies. 

The driver is the consumer's choice to opt out of sharing or giving consent for their data to be used in advertising, and EU data privacy laws are the forcing function. Big tech is taking action; Google recently added a ‘reject all’ cookies button, giving consumers a clear choice to opt out. A leaked report also showed that the way Meta’s ads business ingests data might not comply with GDPR and upcoming privacy regulations in other jurisdictionsand outlined a proposal to re-architect their data collection and flows to annotate, track, and enforce consent.

It’s impacting websites in Europe, where some markets are taking steps to enforce GDPR rules. The Commission Nationale de l'informatique et des libertés (CNIL), for example, is formally notifying companies that still do not allow users to refuse or accept cookies as easily to bring themselves into compliance with the law. The CNIL has imposed heavy fines  amounting to €135m (£115m) against the likes of Google LLC, Google Ireland Ltd, and Amazon Europe for not effectively considering the user’s objection to cookies.

User consent will be bigger than the end of third-party cookies, and when user consent isn’t present, audiences disappear. 


Advertisers will need privacy-compliant first-party data

Julie Vuibert, Senior Customer Success Manager, Permutive

The ability to identify audiences when user consent is and isn’t present lies with publishers. The value exchange for consumersdata for contentis present when they’re on publishers’ websites, enabling publishers to provide advertisers with audiences built from consented first-party data. When user consent disappears, the audience is still there, but it's publishers that can identify them using contextual and audience data signals via technology. 

At the heart of consent is first-party data. Publishers can collect first-party data using behavioural signals (e.g. time of day, clicks, scrolling, video engagement), which are gathered when a user browses a web page; via contextual data, through the content being consumed and metadata (e.g. locations searched, description, topics, keywords); and from declared data, which is provided directly to a publisher by users and subscribers (e.g. purpose of visiting, industry, or preferences about certain topics or content). 

Advertisers will need this privacy-compliant first-party data and contextual insights to understand their audiences' interests online. They will also need to adapt to a changing consumer view on data privacy, particularly as a Pew Research study shows that 79% of consumers are concerned about the way companies are using their data, and a Deloitte study shows that 78% of consumers believe that companies are responsible for protecting their data. 

Advertisers need to build closer relationships with publishers who have and can continue to collect consented data and contextual insights, especially if this data is becoming an invaluable commodity. 

Publishers can build unique audiences for advertisers to reach. They have consenting subscribers and are hyper-aware of user behaviours, so they will be primed to help advertisers unlock high-value audiences in cookie-restricted environments; in doing so, they will give advertisers the ability to reach new audiences and achieve marketing goals without compromising user privacy.

An added benefit of publishers and advertisers working closer together (using technology that is an enabler and not an intermediary) is a move towards responsibly activating audiences. Such a move results in supply chain transparency; it protects the relationships publishers and advertisers have with their consumers and respects consumer consent. 


Moving to a more responsible web

We firmly believe that evolving from a web where data is open for anyone and everyone to use to a responsible web will lead to a consumer experience that is built on trust and that benefits brands and publishers. A responsible web is where user consent and data security are foundational, and publishers are fairly compensated for the value they create. It also means that audiences are built on top of consented data collected by first parties and where strong data security principles ensure that data doesn’t leak. 

There needs to be a focus on solutions that are sustainable and grounded in user consent in order for companies to be able to operate and protect their consumers and their revenue: any solution that isn’t grounded in user consent won’t stand up to oncoming regulatory and browser changes. Publishers, and advertisers, who collect first-party data are the owners of consent. As user consent and privacy regulation make waves, these owners will become extremely valuable partners in the advertising ecosystem.