This special Conversations episode of Media Voices discusses the importance of an open web to advertisers, the realities of our new cookie-less world and how identity solutions add value to the entire ecosystem. To discuss all that, Chris Sutcliffe is joined by Terry Hornsby, Digital Solutions Director at Reach PLC, and Chris Hogg, EMEA Managing Director at Lotame.

Chris Sutcliffe: Over the past two years publishers have rightly been shouting about the power of their first party data. Understandably, that’s led to many becoming protective of the data that underpins that newfound rediscovered strength. But rather than building up walls, many are doubling down on collaboration within the industry. So rather than simply hoarding that data, hoarding that strength, publishers are looking for ways to work with marketers to enhance their understanding of the consumer.

This episode is going to feature myself along with two experts, and we’re going to discuss the importance of an open web to advertisers, the realities of this new cookie-less ecosystem, the promise of identity and connectivity, and how identity solutions add value to the entire ecosystem. To discuss all that, it’s a small topic, obviously, I’m joined by Terry Hornsby, who’s Digital Solutions Director of Reach plc, and Chris Hogg, EMEA Managing Director at Lotame.

So Chris, to begin with, I wondered if you could maybe help provide some context for the discussion. Obviously, over the past couple years, walled gardens have been one of those real, not just buzzwords, but one of those realities of digital advertising that have completely saturated the entire discourse. So how have walled gardens really impacted the advertising ecosystem? And have they potentially prevented us from reaching the full potential of relevant personalised advertising?

Chris Hogg: It’s a good question. And I think it really depends on what side of the market that you sit on. I think, first of all, going back, no one could have really predicted how much of a share of the internet advertising ecosystem that they would eventually take between the different players in the market.

I guess, if you’re sitting from a marketers side of the thing, they’re probably a useful tool to attract potential customers, although I think they even drive some challenges there in terms of, how can I connect the open Internet with the walled gardens, they’re quite disparate platforms that, as you mentioned earlier, that also like to put their arms around their valuable data assets and make it difficult for cross-market penetration.

Chris S: That typifies every time I talk to people about it, that’s exactly what they say, when they talk about walled gardens!

Chris H: Yeah, absolutely. I think that’s a reality of how they impact the market. But I think from the publisher side as well, they’ve had to coincide alongside the walled gardens, they share customers, most people are on some kind of social network today.

From a premium publisher point of view, obviously, they put a lot of resource, effort, money, into content where the walled gardens don’t necessarily have to do that. So there’s kind of a disadvantage there in terms of the resources to actually bring this content to the consumers.

And I think as as a whole, I think it’s difficult to live alongside these platforms, although they drive a lot of benefit to the industry, they’re great sources to actually also drive traffic to other parts of the internet if you get the strategy right. But at the same time, they do drive into revenue potential.

Chris S: I suppose that value exchange has been at the heart of the conversation between these walled gardens and publishers. Terry, from your point of view, then, how have those walled gardens impacted how publishers think about advertising, and particularly digital advertising?

Terry Hornsby: I have a, I wouldn’t say unique view on it, but a more relaxed view than most publishers, I guess. From our side, we are one of the five biggest platforms out there [with them] walled gardens. So from our point of view, we partner with them, they do power the ecosystem, one way or another, traffic, advertising. But I guess from our side is that yes, they have got a unique ability to be able to change the trend of the ecosystem, and that’s something that publishers on their own generally can’t do.

And I think that’s pluses and negatives. We’ve had that over the past few years. But also the walled gardens are some of the biggest demand sources for publishers as well. So you’re always conflicted in terms of, you like them, you hate them, you go through a love hate relationship regularly. And generally some of the walled gardens as well do provide genuine tools for publishers to use.

I think to Chris’s point we do pride ourselves in producing quality premium content and that is costly. We obviously, as publishers, we’d all like more funding and revenue for that. And to be able to produce more of that content. And some of these platforms don’t have to necessarily do that, because they obviously use the content that we produce.

But again, I think they are over recent times, they are becoming kind of more partners in the ecosystem than dominating. There’ll be different views with different publishers, small publishers probably struggle quite a bit to be able to draw up traction against these walled gardens.

But I think from my side, it’s always a love hate relationship. And yeah, we have a bumpy relationship throughout the years.

Chris S: Yeah, that seems like an understatement, considering some of the conversations I’ve heard. I think it’s important to mention as you said, that there is this nuance there. It’s not as though all walled gardens are completely equal in how they deal with publishers. But as well as walled gardens, many of the practices around user data gathering and use have been completely upended over the past couple of years.

So Terry, from your perspective, what have been some of the biggest changes there? And how has the publishing industry responded?

Terry: Yeah, I guess the biggest change for us and for everybody has been GDPR and consent and the evolution of the consent management platforms that all of the publishers have now and gathering that consent, and that transparency for users. It’s something I definitely agree with, I think it needs to be done.

The challenges we have over the next probably many years is that many users of the internet are not in our ecosystem or not in our industry, and they don’t necessarily understand or want to understand or find it quite complex to understand some of the stuff that we do in the background and all of the tools we have to use to run websites.

So I think from our view, especially me, I’ve got 15 plus years, but before that, I went on the internet and just assumed that it was just there. I think that’s the challenge.

We are now at the forefront and saying, look actually, it doesn’t just appear, this is what we’re doing. This is how we do it. Can you help us out? I think premium publishers will drive that, and I think that’s good. And I think it does allow premium publishers and premium platforms of content to actually stand out against the rest as well. So I think it’s a good thing. I think it’s just that we’ve had to adapt really quickly and quite fast.

Our industry is so complex, it’s ticking all the boxes, and how do we make it fit into a system that’s been here for a long period of time? And that’s the challenge we’ve got as publishers.

Chris S: Yeah, certainly, if I think back to some of the guests we’ve had on Media Voices, they’ve said very much the same sort of thing. It was forced upon the industry, in a lot of ways, but for the most part, it seems to have been broadly welcomed. Just maybe some of the implementation hasn’t been quite as in collaboration with the industry as we might have liked.

So Chris, you have a more holistic view of that then, what are some of those challenges that are facing the entire ecosystem?

Chris H: I think everyone would be in agreement that the internet needs to be privacy-first, and we need to put the consumer at the heart of that. I guess one of the biggest challenges at the moment is around who’s the gatekeeper of the internet, and who’s the gatekeeper around privacy?

I’m a very strong believer in the open Internet, that the open web, it was created for all and everyone should be able to have access to the internet. But also everyone should be able to create businesses and have a fair advantage to actually thrive within those ecosystems as well. And I think if businesses are putting consumers first and it is privacy compliant, I struggle a little bit with the notion of big tech companies becoming the gatekeeper of that, and sitting in between the publisher and their customer, or in between the brand and their customer.

The customer has the right to decide who and who not to share data and share information with, and having big tech players in the middle that also have a vested interest into the internet, making decisions on behalf of the consumer around how they interact and what information, I think that is a challenge in itself and is a threat to the open internet.

The open internet still covers a very large proportion of businesses, all the way from publishers through to brands through to other advertising technology companies that work there. And I think we’re going to see a mixture of two internets emerging, you’ve got the authenticated web, which rightly, everyone’s rushing to be able to have an authenticated audience base. But you’re still going to have the rest. Not every user is going to be authenticated for everyone.

And going back to your question earlier about the walled gardens, I guess they’re at a slight unfair advantage there, because their whole model has been built from day one around authentication. And some of the larger tech companies, they have a lot more footprint around authenticated technology.

So I think we’re seeing the biggest change of the internet today, probably over the past two years with the likes of GDPR, etc, coming into place to monitor and put more control around privacy, which is the right thing to do. And then we’re moving into an era around the technology we use to operate the internet, with the detraction of third party cookies is changing.

And I think the next 18 months is going to be very telling around how the internet responds and what the internet looks like. Identity is going to be a very big, continued conversation that we’re all going to be having.

Chris S: Yeah, definitely. I wondered how tangible then, is the danger, Chris, that it will be those big tech platforms that become the gatekeepers to that, and box everybody else out? I suppose, what are the odds on that being what happens?

Chris H: The internet and the many different players in the internet are a unique set of businesses that are used to changing and adapting in a very fast pace. The industry is still relatively young, if you want to look at that, although we are trying to strive to mature.

So I think we’re going to see a lot of new emerging technologies come to the market, and that open Internet is still a very large base for businesses to be able to adapt, to be able to futurise, and actually come up with better privacy-first ways to manage where perhaps the third party cookie hasn’t quite lived up to its expectations and hasn’t quite worked in fairness to the whole of the Internet, and perhaps consumers at the same time.

As we said earlier, a consumer has a right to their privacy online, and if you build processes and technology to fit that, then I think there’s a very healthy space still in the open internet for brands, for publishers, for tech companies, etc.

Chris S: That’s great, a little bit of optimism!

Chris H: I think there is a lot of optimism. And I think we should all be optimistic of what the future of the internet looks like.

Chris S: Good. Fantastic. And then Terry, Chris just mentioned cookies then, and I mentioned the idea that publishers have rediscovered the great strength of first party data over the past couple of years. So would you say now that publishers are in a good position to take advantage of that cookie-less ecosystem? Or is there still work to be done to make sure that we are ready to take advantage of it?

Terry: I think there’s definitely work to be done. It will depend on the publisher. I think there are very clear publishers that have got routes to success in that part. And then also there are the open publishers that say, ‘Look, we don’t know just yet.’

And look, we have got a period of time before this kicks in. But it is the time to discuss it, and it is the time to act on it. As Chris said, lots of publishers are looking around registered users, and that’s a big strategy for us. And it has been and we are being successful in it and producing really good products that people can register for.

But also, that’s not just the only answer, right? The answer is to look at partners, look at partnerships around that we can do and as a conglomerate as publishers, we should get together and discuss it, work with each other on it, because it’s not a unique problem to one publisher. It’s a problem that’s going to arise in the industry as a whole. So we’re only going to solve it together.

And I think that’s been key over the last, even during these weird times where we can’t face to face meet, other regular meetings with publishers, open forums, publishers that we probably wouldn’t have spoken to before and started chatting around what are the options, what can we do together, how can we work with people like Chris and Lotame, and how do we work with people and use our first party data in that powerful way.

Because we know our users the best, we understand them, we have unique touch points with them, and our customer at the end of the day is the main thing. And that allows us to then tailor make that personalization, that engagement, that advertising, all of the different elements with editorial and commercial with them users. That’s the key thing is that we will be in a place to take advantage of it.

And I think some players – and I count ourselves in that – will take advantage of it earlier. That’s because we are lucky in the sense that we have got all the touch points that we have. And especially with us as a national and regional business, the regional local trust and transparency that we have with our users is definitely a plus.

Chris S: We’ve preempted about five of the questions that I’m going to ask later on in your answer there. Maybe just to set the scene, we are going to talk about collaboration, but what are some of the challenges that for individual publishers around that? Is it investing in a tech stack, is a cultural thing, is it educational when you go and talk to advertisers about what you actually have to offer? What are some of those individual challenges that are specific to publishers?

Terry: I actually think that one of the core things within the ID space and this cookie-less world is actually skill set. It’s a relatively new skill set, because it is a relatively new problem / hurdle that we’re going to come across.

So I don’t know necessarily if smaller to medium publishers really have that kind of skill set to look at these problems in the right way. And I think that’s where the collaboration happens. But yeah, generally, the skill set.

I think, also, the unknown, there is unknown, and there’s a lot of research to be done. And there’s lots of businesses, as Chris said, lots of tech companies pop up and say, ‘Look, we’ve got the solution.’ And there’s a lot of noise in our industry that we have to get through to work out what the real solution is. That’s a challenge for publishers, because we get pitched to hundreds of times a day of people saying, ‘Look, we’ve solved the problem.’ And actually, when you dig down, they probably haven’t.

And for us, especially publishers that are less likely to have the skill set, they’re going to be looking for that answer. So they might make a few wrong decisions on the way to the right one. And I think that’s the challenge for publishers is, what decisions do we make, how fast can we make them happen? And can we learn from them to find the the end solution?

Chris S: Yeah, definitely. And I suppose that leads on very neatly to the next question, which is, Chris, do you think then that – it sounds like a radical reinvention – but do you think that the future of digital advertising is going to require that development of an individual user ID? Or is that one potential path of this forking way forward?

Chris H: Definitely in, whether there’ll be one individual ID that’s centralised across the whole of the internet, perhaps not. But I think there will be IDs that actually come back to the individual. One of the challenges that we faced with third party cookies is, third party cookies is very much looked at a device.

The internet is moving through identity away from a device to actually to people based. And I think there will be a number of different IDs that come into play, whether they sit on the authenticated side of the internet, or whether they sit on the open side of the internet in terms of looking at signals. But identity and being able to treat a person like a person is going to be key for success, not only for tracking, targeting, for attribution, etc. but also for privacy.

Today, a lot of privacy is managed by cookies. And without [assistance] against cookies, we’re very fast going to become an ecosystem where a brand or a publisher will have to ask their customer every time they touch one of their digital points for the consent. And it’s like, ‘Hey, did I not give you consent last week?’ Or, ‘Did I not take away my consent last week? This is a terrible user experience.’ And people expect when they give consent or not give consent, they’re actually doing it as a person, not a device.

So we as a business, we’re very much like, we need to treat people as people with connected sets of devices, whether that’s authenticated or whether that’s using signals, we need to bring that together to have a holistic view of that user all built in with consent. And consent really for the the individual customer and what what organisation they’re operating or we’re working with.

So a publisher, they want to come and say ‘Yes, I give consent to a newspaper,’ or ‘I can give consent to my favourite brand that when you see me or you see my devices connect to your digital properties, I’m happy to interact, share information, etc with your organisation.’ So I think it’s going to be very important.

Chris S: And how far away are we from having universal agreement on what that system should look like? Or is it always going to be slightly proprietary, depending on whose technology we’re using?

Chris H: That’s a great question. And at the moment, there’s no real centralised look. I know the IAB continue to look into that alongside other initiatives, obviously, like the TCF framework. But I think you’re going to see multiples come to the market, and they’re going to operate slightly different.

Personally, we’re trying to build an identity solution we call Panorama ID, where we invite multiple ID solutions to be connected. You’re going to have, like always with the internet, again, you’re going to have some more walled garden approaches, you’re going to have some open approaches and cooperation between businesses. But I think it’s still very early stages, it’s organic.

And not all of the questions have been answered yet. We’re still waiting for information on some of the big tech players and exactly what they’re going to do, and will allow within their environments.

But I think the importance of the open internet; cooperation and working as an industry to deliver solutions that both satisfy legislation, satisfy consumers, and also satisfy a way to drive revenue, and get paid for putting that content out there, which is important. I think Terry touched on that earlier.

Chris S: Actually, to go back to you Terry, obviously, the consumer, the reader, the audience is at the bedrock of any successful publishing strategy. So to what extent then does this process require you to almost go to your audience and be very open about the fact that this is why you’re potentially implementing these new solutions? How open and how candid can you be in those conversations?

Terry: I think you can be fully open with people. The hardest challenge for us and for them is to understand the full capabilities of what we need to be able to produce the content that they love. And I think from a local level, we have brands that are trusted. And if you have brands that are trusted, I guess that conversation is easier.

I think publishers that don’t normally talk to their users, and really take these users for granted, they’re going to have a challenge. But for us, the customer is key to us. They are the ones that consume our content. They’re the ones that allow us to produce that content every day.

So it’s about explaining to them, and not over complicating it for people, and also just trying to be clear on what we really need from them to be able to produce the content they need. And I think that’s the key is just that open clearness, which will help that.

Chris S: In a way then, it’s actually an advantage for local publishers who, according to outlets like the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalism and Nieman Lab, their research shows that people tend to trust their local titles a lot more readily than they do some of the nationals. So in that sense, I suppose that if you have the tech available to you, you can have that candid relationship with the local audience. That could be an advantage for those local publishers.

Terry: Yeah, definitely. We see it in our regional business and with our local titles, and when we launch new titles in those areas that were not necessarily in print, but just digital alone. And we see the engagement, the amount of pageviews that registered users and the amount of take up on new products and registered products that they do.

So we’ve got some great Liverpool FC and Manchester United newsletters, and you see the engagement and sign up from the people from the MEN and the Liverpool Echo and even wider audiences, but from the local piece that they’re trusted bits of content that they go through every week to get their knowledge, and being local, being local journalists, being in the local areas and knowing local people is always powerful.

Chris S: Actually speaking of that, then, so Chris, how educated are marketers about what they can actually do with that first party data that publishers have access to? Is there a disconnect between what they expect to be able to do and what is actually possible at the moment, or is it more they just don’t understand the capabilities of data?

Chris H: I wouldn’t say they don’t understand the capabilities of data. I think there’s a lot of marketers that are very data savvy. I guess at the moment, it’s a conversation that’s still ongoing and I think, brands and marketers the same as publishers, same as tech companies are trying to find their feet and put all of the jigsaw together and find solutions to be able to improve, but also continue to do what they do today.

I think COVID and the pandemic sped up this conversation quite a lot. There was a lot of downtime, a lot of pausing in terms of advertising. That gave a lot of businesses time to really dig in and focus on what the future does look like. Is there a disconnect between publishers and marketers?

I’d say there’s probably a disconnect across all organisations a little bit at the moment. Marketers need to speak to publishers to understand what publishers can do. And at the same time, I think publishers need to speak to marketers and understand what marketers need. That’s the way to actually uncover, is there any disconnects today, and how do we actually work together? Because both organisations need each other to thrive on the internet.

So I think there’s a lot of collaboration and I think publishers that do start to talk with brands might have a rethink about some of their strategies, and brands that talk to publishers will have a rethink about their strategies. Overall, there’s two sets of first party data there that both businesses will want to use and put at the forefront.

But also, there needs to still remain an open mind that other data sets will still be required to deliver successful campaigns and really get that panoramic view of the users.

Chris S: So then, Terry, whose responsibility is it to actually get those conversations going, that collaboration? Is it on the publishers to go to marketers and say, ‘Look, here’s what we have access to?’ Or is it on the marketers to reach out to publishers? Or is it just about constant communication?

Terry: I think the communication, it needs to be constant once started. If you’re a publisher, and I’ve got fascination with data, and personally, I like to go to marketers and challenge them and ask them about their audiences, because I think to Chris’s point, there is first party data, and some of the challenges and some of the misperceptions that audience has, or marketers and publishers have about data is that the data is set in a template.

So a [brand] knows their customer, they know what type of customer likes their brand. But actually, my challenge is, in this ecosystem, in this world of programmatic, you can dare to be a little bit different. So take your normal budget, slice a little bit of your budget off, and actually look for the people that you don’t know. And that’s the biggest thing that publishers can give to marketers is, we can we can match audiences and we can say, ‘Look, here’s your customers, and they’re on our sites.’

That’s great, knowing that they’re there, but who don’t you know, and where’s that one customer that you don’t know that could end up spending a highly monthly amount with you, versus somebody that you’ve known for years? That’s always been my challenge to brands, and I’ve done a few talks over the years on it, and it’s looking for that extra piece.

Cookies and data and the way that we consume content allows us to note certain data points about people and you get cookie data from behavioural, so the content you consume on a daily basis, we believe that we know your behaviours.

But also down to the point of, you’ve registered for a newsletter, right? And you might have registered for an Okay newsletter on our sites. But what we can get from that is actually probably going to be likely to be interested in fashion and beauty and celebrity, and it’s taking that extra step. And I think publishers can, and marketers need to work together on that because there is so many different hidden data points out there about people that you don’t you don’t get from everyday consumption or behaviour.

You wouldn’t know that I love supercars by my consumption because I don’t look at them on websites, right? I actually just drive them and I like to go and see them. It’s not all about the consumption that we have online as well, and I think that’s the key thing is that publishers and marketers need to work on that together.

Chris H: Yeah, I think that’s a great point Terry, and I think, with the different data sets and stuff that come together, not all the data that you need to fulfil a campaign brief is going to be in the same place.

And actually, sometimes it’s not even online. Having that panoramic view of the customer, combining first, second party, and third party data and being able to append that to the campaigns moving forward, it gives you that full picture.

Chris S: I suppose, Terry, though, that sounds like an awful lot of time investment there. Is there an early mover advantage in being one of the publishers who, as you said, challenges marketers now, rather than waiting for it to become the industry norm?

Terry: Yeah, I definitely think there is, and I think there always will be a proportion of people that don’t want to change because they haven’t got the same views. And I guess from my side, as I said before, the data fascinates me, and it fascinates my team. So as a team, that’s what we enjoy doing.

And I think from our side, we will always challenge and say, ‘Look, try this, try that,’ and you do. You have ups and downs, and you have guaranteed returns on some of the data that you provide.

But you will always have that surprise. And that’s the beauty of it, finding that surprise. And that’s the bit that the marketers and the publishers find an advantage for them as well. So if you’re working with a specific marketeer, and you can find an advantage for you two over their competitors and yours, then obviously, that’s clearly something you want to work on. And that’s where deep data partnerships come.

It’s not about sharing data and sharing insight about people. It’s about actually communicating on what their beliefs are, what your beliefs are, what the user’s actions are. And then also what’s next? And it’s not always what you believe.

Chris S: Definitely. And, Chris, you’ve got a fair oversight of all this. So, to what extent is it possible to replicate that first party advantage that publishers have on a national level down at that local level as well? What does that require? Because it’s always been, from the conversations I’ve had, it’s always seemed like the holy grail of being able to really transfer that strength down to a local level. Is it even possible to recreate that there?

Chris H: I think it is. And there’s multiple ways to do it, and different organisations come at it in very different ways. I guess Terry and his organisation has a great advantage that they’re both national and local, and they can bring those datasets together to have both conversations.

If you’re a local player in a silo, they still have quite a broad breadth of content. And they can still glean quite a lot from the users and have those conversations with the users that come in to their properties. There are other success stories, and co-oping of data and different news groups coming together, whether it’s at national level, or whether it’s at local levels, and actually combining data sets to be able to attract advertising spend, nationally.

Even niche publications today have have a lot of advantage, in terms of, they might not have huge volumes of data, but they have a message and they have a data set, and they have an audience that is going to be of interest to a certain brand or a vertical or an advertiser.

And whether it’s the local level, the national level, or whether you’re a niche or verticalized publisher, you need to focus on those strengths, and being able to deliver a message across all browsers, and really maximising the reach of your audience.

Chris S: So, Terry you’ve had practical hands on experience actually trying to do that, then. What are some of the challenges in transferring that expertise down to the local level?

Terry: I somewhat think that the technology allows you to do it at any level. It’s the communication and finding the right solution for them local advertising, that local level, because necessarily, it’s not the same as some big brand, or big marketers out there. And I think that’s the key thing.

Sometimes it’s even more important to be more precise with that data. And again, the local side is always challenging because it’s about hitting the people at the right time. But the challenge you’ve got with any local or regional activation is that you don’t necessarily work where you live.

And if you’re trying to catch the right people, it’s about the communication with the marketers to say, ‘Look, actually, yes, it’s great that you advertise at Birmingham because your business is in Birmingham, and you want your users to be in Birmingham, but actually 60% of your customers might not live in Birmingham, they might travel in from other areas.’ So how do you attract that?

And it’s about working with local businesses, because sometimes local business marketing budgets are more strained than national business, and it’s about making it work even harder for them. And that’s one of the, probably the biggest challenges.

But again, that’s what it comes down to. If you’ve got the right kind of tool set in the right kind of publications around it, then it’s easier. And I think that’s one of the advantages, and one of the blessings I have, as digital local for me is, I normally got three or four sites that would service that one client. So for me, it’s quite an advantage.

But if you were a national publisher, and you’re trying to go down to that location level or that regional level, then there’s going to be a lot of challenges.

Chris S: Yeah, absolutely. In fact, even as you were talking about it, even with all Reach’s advantages there, I was thinking about how big a task that actually is. And it seems incredibly daunting, there’s just something about the idea of trying to do data really well on a local level, that seems a lot harder for some reason than trying to do it on a national level.

Terry: Well, I find it quite interesting, quite challenging. From my view it’s almost even a bigger success when you do any of that level. Because the results can be far more drastic, right? If that small business uses the right data, and you get six or seven people in their shop, rather than the normal one a week, it can be a drastic improvement for them.

And I think that’s one of the challenges, but also one of the really kind of go to work and enjoy what you’re doing moments when you turn that local business or help that local business generate real revenue for them. That’s definitely one of the main points for me.

Chris S: So then, I suppose the question Chris is, we spoke about collaboration and the need for publishers to really collaborate with partners within the industry to make the best use of their own data. How far through that conversation are we? Is there a widespread recognition that we do need that collaboration? Or are people still determined to go it alone, and to really think that that is the best way that they can make use of their data?

Chris H: I think there’s two sides to that story. Some people are in the camp that everyone should become a walled garden, and lock down their data assets without an identity play through. Then you’ve got the other side of the market that thinks, ‘Actually, we need the internet open to all, and we need to have lots of collaboration.’

I think in terms of newspapers, we’ve been seeing it for a number of years now, publishers coming together to actually offer a larger audience to combat against the size of the audiences for the walled gardens. Ozone’s is a great example of that, you’ve got 1XL is another example of that. You’ve got big publishing groups that can also do that on their own, like Reach. They are a co-op of publishers themselves. So I think we’re going to see a little bit more of that.

I think some of the smaller publishers are obviously going to want to align themselves with some of the larger publishers. It may be interesting, we might see more acquisition in the publisher space, who knows?

But think we’re going to see just more cooperation. That could even be technology businesses as well opening up and being more cooperative between them. More competitors actually working together to actually solve some of the challenges on the open internet versus the walled gardens.

Chris S: And, Terry, from your perspective then, what does it take to actually get you, I suppose, into bed with one of the potential partners as well? Do they have to offer something new or just something that’s tangibly better than you currently have?

Terry: From my point of view, it’s really about less of that sales pitch at the beginning of the product sell to publishers.

From me, I partner with people who want to partner and feed back to each other. And we’ve successfully done that with Chris’s business and others, but from our view, it’s about being transparent about what your tools can do and what they can’t do, and what would they do in the future with help from us and from them? That’s what makes a partner stand out to me is somebody that actually works on that two way relationship rather than one way.

Chris S: Yeah, definitely. And then a bit of a final question in terms of that collaboration between tech partner, agency, publisher and consumer and basically everyone within the ecosystem. Everything is built on that trust aspect of having the consumers on side.

So do either of you have any best practice for ensuring that just by putting something new out there, and even educating consumers about what their rights are, how do you actually maintain that trust without it becoming a sort of a conversation about them hoarding their own data?

Terry: From our view, it is that conversation about less worrying about telling people how to do things, and actually listening and saying, ‘Look, this is what we’re doing, do you follow? What’s your views on it?’ And getting that two way conversation. That builds trust.

If you come out, and you then say, ‘Look, this is the way we’re working, this is the way you should work,’ that doesn’t build trust. And it’s really clear for us to go, ‘Look, hands up, this is what we’re doing. What are you doing? Where can we learn together?’ And that really does build the trust for me, and I think that does for the wider business.

Chris S: And how about you, Chris? What do you think about maintaining that trust and not having it become a very mercenary conversation about just getting consumers to give you data?

Chris H: First of all, as Terry mentioned, you got to have an element of transparency there, having the conversations of what you’re doing and why you’re doing them, and what’s the benefits of doing it or don’t doing it. I think you have to treat the internet as people-based rather than devices. And you have to put that privacy at the forefront of any product innovation, any business relationship, any partnership, that you’re going into moving forward.

Chris S: That absolutely makes sense. You make it sound so simple, when you say it that way!

And I suppose then, just to round the conversation off, what are some of the current digital advertising trends that we’ve seen that we can expect to continue or even accelerate over the next few years? You’ve both mentioned that COVID has accelerated a lot of the existing trends. So what do you expect to be some of those biggest conversations we’re still having in the next couple years?

Chris H: So for me, identity, that whole space is going to continue to be at the forefront of what we do. Without identity solutions, the open internet becomes a very difficult place to transact. There’s going to be a lot a lot of continued investment in that space, as I said, whether people are looking at it from the authenticated side, or the open internet, that’s definitely where I think you’re going to see a lot of the technology companies spending their [concentration] they are today, and they will continue tomorrow.

But also, I think, as more third party cookies begin to leave the ecosystem, today there’s still a lot of third party cookies, mainly through the Chrome browser that’s still a big part of how the internet works.

But as we slowly start to see those being moved out of the ecosystem, there’s going to be a lot of products around how we can actually do some of the stuff we’re doing today. And how can we actually improve privacy, and have those transparent conversations?

Chris S: Terry, from a publisher perspective then, what are some of the trends you’re expecting to see that you can hopefully take advantage of?

Terry: Definitely identity, I definitely back Chris on that one. From our view, well, my hopes and dreams are that we carry on talking about data, we talk about the extra layers of data with contextual etc. and publishers, like ourselves have created things like Mantis, which is a brand safety and contextual tool. Doing more stuff like that with publishers and tech companies, and working out actually, it’s not just about people visiting the sports section, or celebrity section. It’s about that extra layer of sentiment, etc.

And also looking at other ways of joining up other data sets that we can help users and their experience on the sites as well. Because at the end of the day, the experience, the engagement, it has to be there from our users and our customers. And we’re only going to get that by providing them with more of what they want.

This episode of Media Voices is sponsored by Lotame, a leading provider of data enrichment solutions for global enterprises. Lotame’s connected and patented data technologies, curated second- and third-party data exchanges, and high-touch customer service make us the trusted choice for marketers, agencies and media companies that want to build a panoramic view of their customers and activate across the cookieless web, mobile app and OTT environments. Lotame serves its global clients with offices in New York City, Columbia MD, Argentina, London, Mumbai, Singapore and Sydney.

Learn more about Lotame, or find them on Twitter and Linkedin.

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