Publishers earn slightly more from targeted ads; but at what cost?

Posted by Jeremy Spitzberg • Aug 7, 2019 2:35:11 PM

A new study finds that very little value from behavioral advertising -which make up the vast majority of internet ads - ends up in the hands of publishers, as reported by TechCrunch.

The new research, which will be presented at the Workshop on the Economics of Information Security conference in Boston next week, aims to contribute a new piece to this digital ad revenue puzzle by trying to quantify the value to a single publisher of choosing ads that are behaviorally targeted vs those that aren’t...
It’s called Online Tracking and Publishers’ Revenues: An Empirical Analysis, and is co-authored by three academics

The "research suggests publishers make just 4% more vs if they were to serve a non-targeted ad", with the bulk of the revenue going to Google and Facebook.

While a 4% increase in revenue per ad isn't nothing, there are costs involved that publishers would be wise to consider.

“If setting tracking cookies on visitors was cost free, the website would definitely be losing money. However, the widespread use of tracking cookies – and, more broadly, the practice of tracking users online – has been raising privacy concerns that have led to the adoption of stringent regulations, in particular in the European Union,” they write — going on to cite an estimate by the International Association of Privacy Professionals that Fortune’s Global 500 companies will spend around $7.8BN on compliant costs to meet the requirements of Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).
Wider costs to systematically eroding online privacy are harder to put a value on for publishers. But should also be considered — whether it’s the costs to a brand reputation and user loyalty as a result of a publisher larding their sites with unwanted trackers; to wider societal costs — linked to the risks of data-fuelled manipulation and exploitation of vulnerable groups. Simply put, it’s not a good look.

Emphasis mine.

Clearly publishers, like all players up and down the digital advertising food chain, need to consider brand safety when making business decisions. It may even behoove them to have dedicated, and certified, professionals on staff to help plan, monitor, and report on just these types of issues.

Topics: Brand Safety, Customer Experience, Brand Reputation, Publishers