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Why marketers need to understand privacy-enhancing technologies

This article is part of a special issue of VB. Read the full series here: How data privacy is changing marketing.

Marketers are feeling the pressure from consumers, regulators and security teams to protect current and potential customer data privacy. They are also looking for solutions. So when Gartner adds privacy-enhancing computing, also known as privacy-enhancing technologies (PET), to its list of strategic technology trends for 2022, it’s clear that these measures are accelerating the hype cycle as a way to address consumer privacy challenges .

According to IAB Technology Labs, a non-profit consortium that develops foundational technologies and standards to foster growth and trust in the digital media ecosystem , “PETs” is a broad umbrella term that covers a range of technologies focused on protecting personal information stemming from disciplines such as encryption, machine learning, de-identification and cryptography.

“This not only solves consumer privacy concerns, but also data security concerns,” said Anthony Katsur, CEO of IAB Technology Labs. “From a regulatory perspective, given the current direction of the privacy field, and [a] technology perspective (think crashing cookies and device IDs), it’s becoming more and more obvious that PET is ultimately focused on maximizing data security To protect consumer privacy and minimize the amount of data being processed, will form the basis of the future of the ad-funded internet.”

PET addresses growing challenges facing marketers

Rich Sobel, founder and CEO of marketing consultancy Marcato Solutions, explains that in Between legislation like GDPR and CCPA, Apple’s new iOS standards, and Google’s impending deprecation of Chrome’s third-party cookies, privacy concerns have reached a tipping point. This presents a growing challenge for marketers.


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” Historically, understanding customers and using first, second and third-party datasets of those customers has been processed to some extent ‘upstream’, where the data is applied and modeled to buy ads ahead of time,” Sobel explained said, adding that digital media allows advertisers to determine the value of an ad, now applying all the data previously used for modeling at the point of purchase of an ad in relatively real time.

“This methods and opting out of trackers will always be problematic,” he said. “As a result, moving and addressing privacy concerns through PET has become one of the most important, if not the most important actions advertisers and publishers will take over the next 12 months.”

Company wants to share data and collaborate

at TripleBlind, a startup in Kansas City, Missouri, offers an API that “allows your data to remain behind the firewall while allowing third parties to discover and compute it for analysis and ML training,” said Chris Barnett, vice president of marketing for TripleBlind. Barnett explained that there are several different taxonomies of PET, but they generally include areas such as differential privacy, federated learning, synthetic data, secure multi-party computation, secure enclaves, homomorphic encryption, and tokenization/data masking/data hashing.

“Companies in general are going down this path because they are moving to public cloud infrastructure and planning to share data and collaborate with different people,” he told VentureBeat. “For example, our technology can be used in an AWS or Azure store.”

Marketers are trying to use data collaboratively to understand a customer’s journey from browsing to checkout.

“The customer journey is a double bullseye use case,” says Barnett. “Typical example, if I have a product to market on my website, and I advertise on social media, search, and other internet properties, how do I know where my customers are being affected and generated? Do this It’s getting harder and harder.”

This is the classic deadlock — one party doesn’t want to take the risk of giving all the data to the other. He explained that PET allows parties to share and collaborate around sensitive information while protecting privacy and ensuring compliance.

Jonathan Moran, head of marketing technology solutions at SAS, said that there is currently no data alternative that is “bulletproof,” but Fingerprinting and Digitrust will try to fill that void and allow brands to thrive in a post-third-party cookie world.”

Of the three, he said Universal ID – a An identifying cookie stored in the HTML5 storage space of the user’s browser, limited to first-party use – perhaps the most viable alternative. “But it will take some time and work before it can be rolled out more widely,” he said.

Marketing and the future of pets

There has definitely been a lot of movement in PETs over the past year. In August 2021, Meta stated that it is “investing in a multi-year effort to build a range of privacy-enhancing technologies and collaborating with industry on these and other standards to support the next era.”

In February, the IAB Technology Lab announced the formation of a new Privacy-Enhancing Technology Working Group, saying it “invites developers working on advanced cryptography, data scientists, privacy and security systems engineers, and the digital advertising community of others have come together to develop privacy-enhancing standards and software tools for the digital advertising industry.”

Sobel said, for having strong, direct customer relationships to build strong first-party For the brands and publishers of the dataset, the adoption and application of PET is fairly straightforward and the path clear. However, brands and publishers with fewer direct customer relationships and less uncertainty about customer data will need agency tools and partnerships to share aggregated data through data cleanrooms (e.g., “walled gardens” such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon) place) to build better datasets. rather than customer-level data.

“PET and data cleanrooms are very powerful tools, so their adoption needs to be aligned with business use cases, not just technology for technology’s sake,” he explained. “They’re too expensive to ‘just have them’.”

But according to Katsur of the IAB Technology Laboratory, while the use of PET to solve the most difficult problems in marketing is still Too early for thorny privacy challenges, maturity is coming.

“We’re still currently defining real-world use cases for both inside and outside the PET advertising ecosystem,” he said. “Next year, you’ll see more practical applications as we move from theory and education to practical use.”

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