Reflections and Predictions: Data Collaboration, Media Networks and Privacy

Reflections and Predictions: Data Collaboration, Media Networks and Privacy
Ben Cicchetti
Thursday, December 14, 2023

As the curtain closes on 2023, many moments have been etched into our memories. While Taylor Swift was causing record-breaking seismic activity in Seattle, generative AI sent shockwaves through the media industry as many grappled with its potential applications. Miley Cyrus's "Flowers" may have been the most streamed song of the year, but retail media was the most discussed topic in advertising. As the world became obsessed with the combination of Barbie and Oppenheimer, or 'Barbenheimer,' collaboration became the cornerstone of conversation within the media industry. And finally, in 2023, Succession came to a riveting end, but the finale we’re all eagerly awaiting in 2024 is the final installment in the third-party cookie deprecation saga.

Before bidding adieu and enjoying the holidays with loved ones, let's reflect on the defining themes of the year and cast our gaze forward to anticipate the key trends of 2024.

2023: Collaboration, Retail Media and Performance

InfoSummits: Fostering Collaboration

In 2023, we launched InfoSummit. These events bring together industry leaders to discuss and delve deep into various facets of the media world. These events became a cornerstone of our efforts to foster collaboration and insight-sharing.

Our inaugural InfoSummit, held in February, set the tone for the year, casting a spotlight on what would become the hottest topic of 2023: Retail Media. We followed that up with events focused on Measurement in July and Insights & Planning to round out the year in November. These events were attended by over 150 industry leaders, and we had incredible speakers from pioneering organizations such as Omnicom, ITV, Boots, dunnhumby, the7stars, Thinkbox, Global, Dynata, Havas, The Telegraph, Samsung Ads, Nielsen, Starcount, Dentsu. Thank you to each of them who joined us and shared valuable insights.

On a personal level, the InfoSummit that stood out was our LGBTQ+ InfoSummit in September. This event brought together LGBTQ+ individuals and allies to spark discussions on representation in media. We were inspired, informed and guided by incredible speakers Ben Hunte from Vice News, Tamara Littleton from The Social Element, Dora Michail-Clendinnen from The Ozone Project, and Adam Spawton-Rice from Simplyhealth.

Retail Media: Everything Everywhere All at Once

Two topics dominated industry events across the globe: retail media and data clean rooms. These two trends have a symbiotic relationship. While retail media has existed for many years, it has been through the growth of data collaboration technology, such as data clean rooms, that the full potential of this advertising juggernaut has been unleashed. 

In 2023, InfoSum was a consistent voice on the power of retail media and data collaboration. But not only did we talk the talk, we walked the walk. Global organizations used InfoSum’s technology to underpin new and innovative advertising solutions that combined the power and scale of retail media and connected TV. For example, Channel 4 and Nectar360 in the UK launched RETAIL, which delivered impressive results for leading brands, including Garnier, Weetabix, Walkers, McCain, Pepsi and McVitie's.

Data Clean Rooms: Construction and Performance

At the beginning of the year, we predicted a transition from clean room curiosity in 2022 to clean room construction in 2023. However, the reality surpassed our expectations as we saw our clients use the InfoSum data clean room to deliver remarkable performance:

2024: Cookie fears drive media network boom

Cookie Deprecation: Becomes reality…maybe

As we look ahead to 2024, the media landscape is poised for significant changes. One of the most anticipated events is the deprecation of third-party cookies in Google's dominant web browser, Chrome. Google has announced its intentions to begin disabling third-party cookies for 1% of users from Q1 2024, gradually ramping up to 100% of users by Q3 2024.

We take immense pride in our clients who did not leave their fate in the hands of Google. Over the past few years, they boldly explored new approaches, and the results have been nothing short of remarkable in their transition to a cookieless approach. Regrettably, not all businesses acted as swiftly. Consequently, we anticipate a race to implement solutions that safeguard marketing strategies and advertising revenues—reminiscent of the hustle we witnessed in 2018 with the introduction of the GDPR. Those businesses that were proactive in adapting early will continue to enjoy the fruits of their foresight.

No matter your position, InfoSum is excited to support our existing and new clients as they build and deliver high-performance advertising solutions based on first-party data. In an era where data privacy and consumer preferences are paramount, first-party data will be the key to unlocking advertising success.

Media networks: Lessons from retail

2023 saw the meteoric ascent of retail media networks. As we venture into 2024, the ripple effects of the retail media network success story are set to reverberate across other sectors. Not only do we expect to see the continued growth of retail media and commerce media, but we anticipate various other industries are poised to adopt similar frameworks. A travel media network could combine the rich data intelligence of travel aggregators, airlines, hotel chains, car rentals, and holiday entertainment companies. A specialized advertising platform tailored to the traveler experience is a compelling prospect not only for these companies but also for brands and retailers wishing to target travelers in 2024. 

Audio presents a clear opportunity to leverage the media network trend. The music and podcast industry has undergone a profound digital transformation, becoming a treasure trove of rich data. Collaborating with brands, retailers, and even other media companies can usher in an era of innovative first-party data-driven advertising strategies.

What happens when a global entertainment behemoth jumps on the media network trend? Surpassing the collective earnings of the music and film industries in 2022 with a staggering revenue of $185 billion, the gaming industry holds unparalleled potential. The collaborative efforts among gaming platforms, developers, esports leagues, retailers, and brands promise to deliver hyper-personalized and captivating advertising experiences, further reshaping the advertising landscape.

The imminent emergence of sector-specific media networks heralds a new era in advertising, where tailored experiences and strategic collaborations redefine consumer engagement. 

Data privacy: Adapt or perish

Since the introduction of the GPDR in 2018, we have been on a steady march towards the global population's data being protected by comprehensive privacy legislation. Coupled with numerous prominent data breaches, hacks, and misuses, consumers have become increasingly cognizant of data collection and usage, demanding that companies be better guardians of their data. The message heading into 2024 for all businesses is simple: adapt to the new privacy-first world or perish. 

While Europe has long embraced a privacy-centric approach, the U.S. confronts an increasingly intricate landscape. With a growing number of states either planning, enacting, or ratifying privacy legislation, the picture becomes more complex. As of December, four privacy laws are already enforceable, while a further eight have been signed, and eight are in various stages of the legislative process.

Map of US showing which states have privacy laws that are either enforceable, signed, being considered, or without legislation.

This patchwork of laws poses immense challenges for U.S.-based businesses. Ideally, introducing a federal-level privacy law would provide a standardized framework. However, this requires gaining bipartisan support and overcoming the inertia that has held back similar efforts in the past. Either way, the evolving privacy landscape in the US represents a significant threat to unprepared brands that lack the necessary infrastructure to effectively manage and safeguard their customers' data.

Down under, we ended 2023 with the Australian Government publishing its response to the Privacy Act recommendations, accepting 38 of the 116 recommendations and accepting “in-principle” a further 68. The government now intends to legislate these recommendations in 2024 in a move designed to bring the Privacy Act, initially introduced in 1998, into the digital age. 

Across the globe, businesses will need to see through the haze of companies making various privacy claims and focus on adopting technology that provides them with the tools and safeguards to maximize the performance of their customer data while prioritizing the privacy of their customers. 

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