5 things we learnt at Digital Trust Forum 2021

Posted on Wednesday 26 May 2021 | IAB UK

Catch up on the key takeouts from our second Digital Trust Forum, with speakers including Facebook, Amazon Advertising, TikTok, Google and The Telegraph

Speaking at our second Digital Trust Forum, Tim Elkington, IAB UK’s Chief Digital Officer, reflected on what’s been achieved since we gathered for the inaugural event back in January 2020. From the launch of Gold Standard 2.0 to cross-industry work on supply chain transparency, Elkington said that “we’ve made good progress, but now is not the time to ease off”.  With growing pressure from both consumers and regulators to improve privacy and transparency within the digital advertising ecosystem, “collaborating and committing to tackle these issues together” is the way forward. Here are five of our key takeouts from the event:

1. Privacy & personalisation aren’t mutually exclusive 

This was a central theme throughout a number of sessions, with Facebook’s Kay Perry saying that “people deserve both [privacy and personalisation]”. She shared research showing that protection of personal data and relevant brand recommendations are both priorities for consumers and getting the balance is key. In a similar vein, Google’s Matt Bush said that the company believes “privacy and ads are not at odds and can co-exist”, detailing how Privacy Sandbox and machine learning innovations are helping to create new ways of targeting people via “anonymous, aggregated groups”. AppsFlyer’s Gal Ekstein summed the privacy/personalisation debate up perfectly when he described solutions that unite accuracy with privacy as “the Holy Grail”. 

2. Agility = opportunities 

From User ID solutions to the impact of the pandemic, there is a lot of change to navigate within our industry and it’s those taking an agile approach that can embrace opportunities. Discussing how brands dealt with the pandemic, Amazon Advertising’s Paul Hackwell said that it was those that reacted in real-time and authentically met customers where they were in the moment that built trusted, long-term relationships. Meanwhile - discussing IDFA changes in the mobile space - Ekstein also focused on the need for agility: “Smart marketers will identify the unique opportunities - the ones that adapt quickly and have the right tools for measurement in place might actually find quality users easily and cheaper than before.” 

3. Education is key to workable solutions 

“We need to collectively educate people on the value of personalised advertising and build transparent tools that allow them to understand how their data is being used”, explained Perry. Education is coming to the fore as digital ad players seek to inform consumers about how their data is used and communicate the fundamental value exchange that sits at the heart of the open web. In order for viable and workable solutions to emerge, Bush said that all three parties that make up the open web must be involved in shaping them - users, publishers and advertisers. Education was also a key theme in TikTok’s session. Discussing how to keep young people safe online, TikTok’s Alexandra Evans said that the platform is working with young people to develop digital literacy resources for adults. 

4. Companies are driving change individually  

It was interesting to hear how individual companies are taking steps to rebuild trust in digital. The Telegraph’s Anthony Crocker and Samara Hocihara discussed the publisher’s ‘Tone Scoring’ approach, which drives advertisers away from clicks while utilising machine learning to align brands with highly engaged environments. Hybrid Theory’s Hiran Patel also covered how companies should be embedding ‘trust by design’ into the core of the business in order to drive real and tangible change. Meanwhile, OpenSlate’s Andrew Smith focused on the role that content targeting is playing in rebuilding trust in digital, allowing advertisers to “support the content and creators that align with [their] values and support the individual's right to privacy”. 

5. But collaboration remains essential 

However, while individual steps are pushing the trust agenda forward, collaboration remains crucial to driving lasting, cross-industry change. Many of the speakers highlighted the need to come together - from Facebook calling for the industry to collaborate on the creation of open standards, to TikTok describing collaboration as “a critical element” in building trust. IAB Tech Lab’s session was a great example of how collaboration is working in practice, as Jill Wittkopp and Shailley Singh introduced The Transparency Center. Launching this summer, it aims to enhance trust in digital advertising by bringing all data points from across the supply chain together in one place. To sum up why collaboration is so important in this space, IAB UK’s Tina Lakhani put it perfectly: “Building trust in our industry is something that we all need to be invested in as it’s not something that just affects our industry - it affects us all as individuals.”

Watch sessions from Digital Trust Forum here. This event was sponsored by TikTok and Facebook.

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