Advertising Digital Publishing
5 mins read

Why publishers shouldn’t fear ADPPA

TL;DR: The American Data Privacy & Protection Act (ADPPA) will soon be heard in the House of Representatives, the lower chamber of the United States Congress. Its impact could be profound, not least on publisher revenue streams. Could contextual rather than behavioural advertising be a key solution to the challenge? Yes, argues Brian Danzis, MD US of Seedtag.

The House Committee on Energy & Commerce recently took the first steps towards creating a framework for federal consumer privacy rights. The lawmakers voted in favour of the American Data Privacy & Protection Act (ADPPA) by a margin of 53-2, meaning it will soon be heard in the House. 

This comes as welcome news as our country has been slightly behind the curve when it comes to data protection. The European Union (EU) introduced GDPR regulations in 2018 – the goal being to curb tech firms’ personal data transfer practices. And before that, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) lobbied Congress to take a firmer stance on Americans’ basic privacy rights in 2000 – to no avail. 

ADPPA – despite not being officially brought into law – has already sent shockwaves across adland. The regulations will target ‘covered entities’ – defined as any company which collects or transfers individuals’ unique information – and publishers are concerned this will negatively impact their revenue streams. 

There are, however, unique solutions that will allow publishers to continue thriving. Broader contextual targeting – which leans on advanced technology, such as AI – is the perfect replacement for outdated behavioural advertising. 

So what changes will ADPPA bring to the table – and why should publishers remain optimistic about the future? 

Peeking Behind the Legislative Curtain

Most would agree that personalized and curated experiences on the web are preferable; however, this doesn’t mean they want every little piece of personal information used to deliver on this desire. 

Research shows that contextual advertising boosts consumer interest by as much as 32%, versus the traditionally used demographic targeting. Users are irritated when they are constantly bombarded by content curated from cross-site browsing data. 

ADPPA will seemingly be the answer to consumers’ prayers. Frank Pallone – a contributor to the bill – believes that it will “put people back in control of their data;” and it is hard to disagree with this sentiment. 

The bill’s commitment to data minimization will drastically limit companies’ ability to transfer ‘covered data’ – users’ personal information. These will include: 

  • Geolocation
  • Social security numbers
  • Passwords
  • Internet browsing history

Consumers will also be able to bring legal action against companies violating their privacy rights. The private right of action will entitle users to learn the names of third-party firms processing their personal information. 

This level of transparency, however, has not been welcomed with open arms by everyone. The Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and Privacy for America – prominent ad industry firms – believe that increased regulation and restricted data collection will hurt their data-driven economy. 

Consumer Reports – a consumer advocacy group on the other side of the fence – recently wrote a letter of support for ADPPA. It said that the bill’s new regulations are “desperately needed in a society where every click and footstep can be recorded, analyzed, and sold without any consumer awareness or control.”

The jury is still out on whether ADPPA will pass through the House – despite bipartisan support. What is certain is that publishers don’t need to close up shop just yet. In contextual targeting, they have a silver lining that can be their salvation. 

Contextual – Or Bust

While Google recently pushed back the timeline to eliminate cookies from Chrome completely, consumers have already responded as 80% of browsers already reject or block cookies today. Actual ad blocking is also on the rise – more than 38% of users block ads in a bid to safeguard their privacy – publishers are facing an uphill battle to sustain ad-funded models. 

Successful organizations need to place their staff – and their customers – at the heart of the experience. This means not forgetting the very first reason why advertising exists in the first place: to create positive sentiment that drives awareness, intent and action; this can still be accomplished by shifting away from behavioural targeting and embracing a new approach that is still data-driven.

Contextual targeting may not be new – but many publishers don’t appreciate there are different types. ‘Keyword’ targeting, for example, is clunky and inefficient.

Contextual AI offers a comprehensive analysis of both the written and visual content of an article, taking into account factors such as natural language patterns, tone and the content of images. This means publishers that are able to leverage this technology are more likely to offer potential advertisers a platform where they can effectively reach their desired audience while also protecting their brand.

Collaborating with other publishers around the globe is one way to navigate this issue. European advertisers, for example, have had four years to grow accustomed to GDPR regulations. They will understand the content which performs well – and be able to offer insight into where effective advertising can be implemented. 

Don’t Let Sleeping Dogs Lie… 

Publishers don’t need to reinvent the wheel in order to generate new revenue; but, old-fashioned strategies based around behavioural ads will soon find themselves on the scrap heap. This is the perfect opportunity to embrace new methods – and new technology. 

Contextual targeting is the catalyst to achieving more efficient advertising processes. And even if ADPPA doesn’t pass through the House, this should be seen as a turning point for the industry. Trying to cling onto the crumbling status quo would be a costly mistake – both in terms of current and future results. 

Brian Danzis
MD US, Seedtag

Seedtag is the leading Contextual Advertising Company that creates highly impactful and engaging solutions for relevant premium visual content, powering targeting and returns for top publishers and brands. The company’s contextual A.I. allows brands to engage with consumers within their universe of interest on a cookie-free basis.

Seedtag was founded in Madrid in 2014 by two ex-Googlers who wanted to get the most out of editorial images. It is a global company with more than 250 employees and an important international presence in Spain, France, Italy, UK, Benelux, Germany, Mexico, Brazil and Colombia.