Lara Izlan, ITV: “No consumers means no business”

“At the end of the day, no consumers means no business”

Consumers are at the heart of what we do as an industry. They make this industry tick, and their data is every company’s biggest and most valued asset. Without them and their data, there would be no media and advertising industry. So the question is: Why do we not treat them as such?

In the latest episode of our Identity Architects podcast, our SVP Sales Northern Europe & Italy, Stu Colman, sat down with Lara Izlan, Director of Data Strategy at ITV, to discuss identity, collaboration, the value exchange between consumers and media owners, and much more.

“We tend to forget that consumers are part of this ecosystem. They need to be seen as one of the key beneficiaries of this data economy that we're building, that we're working in - not just as a source. […] When you think about them as one of the key beneficiaries of the data economy then all of a sudden it's how do we, as we're thinking about value that this data can derive for our business, deliver that in such a way that the consumer benefits from it equally or as part of the journey towards the commercial value.”

Driven by regulation, growing consumer awareness, and the introduction of tracking prevention technology by companies such as Apple and Google, the industry is increasingly prioritizing consumers' privacy. The outcome has been many questioning the way the industry relied upon third-party cookies over the last decade or so. 

“We were riding a wave that was going to end at some point so there was no long-term vision in that. But it really is an opportunity for us to rethink. And we shouldn't be almost bringing with us the baggage of expectations of what we used to be able to do with cookies because half of that we should never have been able to do. We did it because it was there, and maybe we weren't reflecting what we were doing.”

The end of the third-party cookie and other identity surrogates is seen by most as a positive change for the industry. This new privacy-first ecosystem will create new and exciting opportunities for any who embraces them. 

“Consumer privacy or our viewer privacy and security and the security of their data is absolute paramount. So as a data owner we have a direct relationship with the viewers. We have a responsibility for the 35 million records that we hold about our viewers. Our viewers trust us. They trust us to provide them with the best possible user experience, the best possible content in exchange for registering with our products and services and providing us with some of their information and you have to hold that value exchange like sacrosanct. It is a contract, and it needs to be treated with respect.”

It all comes back to the consumer. Consumers sit at the very heart of the advertising ecosystem. It is the knowledge and insight companies can gain about them that drives more personalized data-driven experiences. As an industry, therefore, we must treat those consumers with the utmost respect and offer them a fair value exchange for their data.

By now we all know that we need to rethink the way the advertising ecosystem functions. We need to focus on the consumers and their privacy. But there is no single company that can do that alone, it will take the ecosystem working together and trusting each other again. 

“It's really important for us to work with suppliers that have this sort of mindset, and they understand where we're coming from and where we need to get to and are providing us the capabilities that allow us to fulfill that. And obviously our partnership with InfoSum has been amazing and enabling some of the really ambitious things that we want to do but in a way that respects the principles that we have around respecting our user’s data.”

We're in a wonderful time where there are huge opportunities ahead. But with this opportunity comes new challenges that may create apprehension. How can companies start on their journey? 

“I can see how it could be really daunting and I fully understand that. […] You have to find a way to kind of dip your toe in the water and you can build from there. If your culture is not necessarily one that can change overnight as most of ours aren't, it's proactively reaching out to partners that can help you with that process on a small basis to start.”

As an industry we tend to focus on the challenge rather than the solution. The end of the third-party cookie era is a good example of that. Instead of immediately working on a solution, many brands, advertisers, media owners, and data providers are doing nothing. 

“Don't ever let your quest for perfection stop you from starting something. This is a theme in our industry. How many conferences have we been to where people say ‘We will never figure out measurement’. My pushback to that always is, you're not going to solve it if you're turning it into a massive problem and putting it on a pedestal that nobody can even touch. What you actually need to do is, kind of chipping away at it and then coming together and sharing learnings and figure out what works and what doesn't work. If we get scared about some of these big challenges then we convince ourselves that it's too difficult to solve.”

We must all work together and collaborate for a better future that puts the consumer first. Because without the consumer, there is no business.

Thanks, Lara, for the chat!