The Power of Prospecting in a Privacy-First Era

In association with Fifty

Ahead of ATS London 2022, Lucie Pearce, Marketing Manager at Fifty, explains why privacy solutions are paramount, the benefits of focusing on prospecting, how new technologies are changing contextual advertising, and how advertisers’ can future-proof their businesses with a full-funnel marketing strategy.

Between Google’s decision to phase out the third-party cookie in 2023 and Apple’s ongoing privacy updates, it’s safe to say that the digital advertising landscape is in a state of flux. What we are witnessing is a tug-of-war between the largest players in tech today to determine what the future of audience addressability should look like. For advertisers, publishers and businesses, the tussling can be frustrating and costly as they seek out solutions that are future-proof.

The problem that is arising now is that many industry players are focusing on the wrong thing; how the death of the cookie will limit their ability to target and retarget. At Fifty, we believe that prospecting throughout the entire marketing funnel, using next-generation contextual processing combined with audience insights, is a more sustainable way to achieve high conversion rates without invading anyone’s privacy.


Consumers’ Growing Privacy Awareness

Consumers’ awareness of how their web activity leaves data breadcrumbs has grown in recent years, and with it concerns over privacy. According to Integral Ad Science, nearly nine in ten (87%) UK consumers now understand that their browsing data will be used for advertising purposes and 94% say data privacy is a key concern for them.

While regulations like the GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act of 2020 have raised consumers’ consciousness of data privacy, the biggest drivers of awareness have been high profile data breaches and the COVID-19 pandemic, which saw discussions about data — especially health data — increase. 

This expansion of privacy awareness also means there is a growing issue of trust between brands and consumers, especially since the situations in which consumers are happy to hand over their data are context-specific. Being responsible with consumers’ data — and respecting their privacy — has become a pivotal part of doing business on the web. For digital advertisers and the brands they work for, this means finding new ways of reaching your target audience without making them feel as if they are being followed around the web.


Prospecting – Or Why You Need To Start Off Right

Lucie Pearce, Marketing Manager, Fifty

One of the reasons why Google and Apple’s user privacy protections have shaken so many advertisers is that they severely limit businesses’ ability to retarget. In the previous advertising ecosystem, where third-party identifiers were readily available, it was incredibly easy to understand who was interested in your product and retarget using that data. “Anybody can implement a pixel and retarget on that basis,” says Olivia Liman, Client Director at Fifty. But by Apple making tracking an ‘opt-in’ affair, advertisers have less access to the data needed for retargeting. Indeed, opt-in rates stood at 17% in July 2021 – meaning that more than 80% of Apple iOS mobile users are not allowing apps and advertisers to track them.

This is why prospecting is becoming much more important, not only at the start, but throughout a campaign. “Prospecting is more of a skill,” says Liman. “In this landscape, you have to be really strong on prospecting, which means having the insight capability that is as quick, dynamic and scalable as when you could retarget using pixels.”

Previously, companies could cast a wide net when prospecting, and then rely on pixels to deliver the retargeting data that would narrow a pool of potential customers to those who had moved from the awareness to the consideration stage of the funnel.

But what do you do if you can no longer prospect blindly and count on retargeting to filter the engaged customers from the rest? You need accurate insights that deliver strong prospecting.

If you have insights that are delivering a strong, accurate prospecting audience, then you are more likely to succeed at targeting from the get go. But more than that, if you continue to prospect throughout your campaign, you can ensure that you are focusing your advertising in the right place and towards the right audience. “You need to use prospecting data at all stages of the marketing funnel,” says Simon Eaton, UK Commercial Director at Fifty. “Previously, conversions were focused on retargeting, but prospecting along the funnel with better insights will deliver conversions. Without that retargeting capability anymore, we need to be more inventive with our prospecting.”

But how do you do that? What insights do you need for better prospecting? And how can this be done in a privacy-first way?


How To Future-Proof Your Targeting

Whilst the right kind of insights can deliver greater understanding of an audience, these insights still have to be gathered and implemented in a compliant way that is not reliant on cookies or other third-party identifiers that could become redundant the next time Apple releases an iOS update.

The answer is contextual. But not contextual as you know it – where a computer uses natural language processing (NLP) and machine learning algorithms to read a page’s context and make assumptions about its readers. What is needed is insights-powered contextual that delivers high-performing advertising because it truly understands your audience – this is human-centric marketing.

“Marketing and advertising have never been about cookies or identifiers, but real people – human beings,” says Rob Webster, Fifty advisor and co-founder of Canton Marketing Solutions, a consultancy aimed at helping brands take control of their digital marketing activity. “Digital marketing is a great discipline, but too much of it has been focused on digital IDs, which not only fail to define humans, but actively damage their interests and consideration by risking their privacy and, ultimately, by not treating them as people.”

Blindly picking keywords based on the pages that you think are relevant to your campaign or audience is archaic and incredibly polarising. Grounding contextual targeting in audience insight will allow for the demonstration, rather than the assumption, of what an audience is motivated and engaged by. This is what we at Fifty are seeking to achieve with FiftyAurora, our next-gen contextual solution, which provides a holistic approach to real-time prospecting and targeting that is future-proof and privacy-forward.


Key Takeaways
  • The days of pixel-driven retargeting are over. Focus on prospecting throughout the entire funnel to get results.


  • Prospecting is a skill – to ensure you’re prospecting efficiently you need audience insights.


  • Treat privacy as a brand pillar. Privacy and compliance are of the utmost importance – you need to ensure your ad-tech is compliant but can still power growth.


  • People still need good, relevant advertising. A better understanding of your audience means you can deliver them the advertising they need, when and where they want to see it.


  • Next level contextual solutions that treat people as diverse and nuanced human beings, whilst putting privacy front-and-centre, like Fifty's Insights and FiftyAurora, will make prospecting more effective and future-proof.

ATS London 2022 will take place on 14th and 15th June at Central Hall Westminster. Tickets and further information are available via the ATS London 2022 event hub.