Trust & Personalisation: friends or foes?

Posted on Monday 13 March 2023 | Simon Trewavas - UK Country Manager at RTB House

As the industry prepares for the deprecation of third-party cookies, RTB House’s UK Country Manager, Simon Trewavas explores how personalisation and consumer trust can exist in parallel  

The personalisation paradox? 

Somewhere between privacy-first and personalisation is one of the biggest challenges for any organisation. People are demanding assurances that their personal data be handled with respect by brands, and they reward the brands that do with trust. Yet, research continues to show that internet users also expect relevance from the brands they interact with. Is this a contradiction? It doesn’t have to be - advertising campaigns that deploy the right kind of marketing tech stack will be able to achieve strong results while making no concessions on privacy, and all without third-party cookies. 

In the balance  

Digital ads are ubiquitous - they create a noise that’s difficult to penetrate. Only the most relevant ad can cut through the noise. Meanwhile, consumers want to be understood as individuals - 71% of users have come to expect personalisation and 76% are frustrated when they don’t find it. It’s vital that the execution of campaigns meets user expectations. The rewards for getting this right can be significant - research from McKinsey indicates that brands that have implemented personalisation see up to a 30% reduction in returns.  

The key to resonating with consumers is in leveraging data to connect with them in a hyper-personalised way. But to truly personalise, you need to understand user behaviour. Interpreting data correctly is imperative. Of course, it’s technology, like advanced AI, that is the driving engine of relevant ads. 

But, how do you achieve the right balance of personalisation, one that benefits both the consumer and the advertiser? 

Trust: if you build it, they will come 

Digital advertising is about to become more respectful of user privacy with the phasing out of third-party cookies. Undoubtedly this will present complex challenges for brands. But opportunities abound if brands can hit the ground running when it comes to maintaining ad efficiency while heightening customer trust in the upcoming paradigm.  

Sharing is caring 

In the rush to bolster KPIs through tracking data, many advertisers have been guilty of forgetting the human foundation of marketing - be respectful, be relevant, build trust. But consumer trust has to be earned.  

There is already such a preponderance of freely given data that there is no need to cross any privacy boundaries. In fact, brands can quickly adopt new and engaging ways to gain more consensual data from customers. For example, surveys, forms and discount codes are just some of the ways brands can collect voluntary data from users.  

Brands should carefully consider what data is needed and should always allow consumers to choose what data to disclose. Research from Forrester suggests that a great time for asking for data from consumers is right after a purchase - that’s the golden moment to start building a mutually beneficial relationship of trust.  


To boldly go… 

There can be other winners in a cookieless environment - most notably publishers and ad tech organisations. Currently, many publishers are reluctant to share data externally for fear it could be tied with third-party consumer information by ad tech companies. In the future publishers can monetise their data unencumbered by cross-site identifiers - it’s a win-win. The publisher’s reputation isn’t blemished and their audience can receive more relevant ads by way of a standardised methodology that can be done at scale. One example of this is the Seller-Defined Audiences concept developed by the IAB Tech Lab. It allows publishers to share information about a given user’s segment in a dedicated field in the bid request.  

It’s often said that cookieless personalisation will only be possible at a group level. This just isn’t true. The cookieless environment will promote first-party relationships between brands and users. Proposals, like FLEDGE from Privacy Sandbox, will support this. It includes RTB House concepts* that support the display of precisely recommended products and the optimisation of marketing budgets, all without the need to track individuals across websites.  

Trust and personalisation can not only co-exist in parallel, but can- by deploying a robust and flexible marketing stack - be a marriage made in heaven.



Written by

Simon Trewavas

UK Country Manager at RTB House


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