Adtech turns to new approaches to adapt to a privacy-centric ad landscape

Zijing Fu

posted on October 26, 2021 3:47 pmEditor : Wang Boyuan

As data privacy becomes a growing concern for consumers and policies begin to catch up with adtech developments, advertisement solution providers found themselves caught in a tug-of-war. 

On one side, there are the benefits of data collection which enables them to build user profiles and reach consumers efficiently; while on the other side, they walk the thin line when consumers are taking umbrage at data tracking.

Policymakers in China and abroad are enacting laws to draw clear lines between invasive and necessary data collection. For instance, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) went into effect on January 1, 2020, emphasizing consumer rights to access, correct, and delete their information collected by apps or websites. The CCPA caused a chain reaction — states like Colorado and Virginia have passed privacy laws since then. 

China's first data security law went into effect on September 1, 2021, which states that operators have responsibilities to protect users’ personal information and data security, also underlining their social responsibilities to better serve the elderlies and disabled people. Apple also rolled out privacy changes that let users refuse tracking in April.

As adtech businesses navigate through the turmoil, many find themselves in need of alternative solutions.

“We disagree with the concept that privacy protection is in contradiction with customizable (ad) experiences,” said Facebook’s vice president of industry in Greater China, David Chen at the Global Traffic Conference hosted by Baijing, a platform servicing Chinese companies going overseas. (Translated by PingWest)

According to Chen, Facebook adopts an on-device machine learning method (ODML) which processes data on users’ devices instead of sending data to a cloud server, meaning sensitive data would not even leave users’ devices. The ODML method still enables pattern recognition, which lets Facebook help advertisers reach their targeted audience.

Another speaker at the Global Traffic Conference introduced a different perspective: alternative screens. Considering the vast opportunities that come with a bigger screen, “cable TV and paid channels can effectively prompt growth in sales,” said Calvin Chan, the general manager in China of The Trade Desk. While most digital advertising happens on mobile platforms such as phones, laptops, and pads, TVs are often neglected. 

According to Statista, there are 121 million TV households in the United States for the 2020-2021 TV season and 194.17 million TV households in China for 2019, while adult users in China spend 150 minutes on average per day watching television.

In addition, smart messaging also presents itself as an alternative solution since app-tracking reaches a dead end. According to Montnets, a cloud communications company based in Shenzhen, smart messaging enables advertisers to send multimedia SMS to users. It has the ability to integrate pictures, videos, and clickable interactions, which takes users directly from the message to webpages, apps, and even quick apps, which is supported by many smart devices providers such as Huawei, Oppo, Xiaomi, Vivo, Honor, Levono, and others.