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Ogury

In a new online world focused on privacy, personified advertising is the future

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New consumer expectations and regulations around privacy mean companies must find a different way to reach target audiences.

For a number of years now, the digital advertising industry has been shaped by tighter regulations and heightened consumer expectations concerning online privacy. On top of these ethical and regulatory challenges, the digital advertising industry has to contend with the looming disappearance of third-party cookies and advertising IDs, forcing them to reconsider their existing model. 

Don’t look the other way

While some AdTechs chose to ignore these new challenges, others took the more sensible approach of anticipating them - as was the case with Ogury. In 2014, long before privacy concerns took center stage, Jean Canzoneri and Thomas Pasquet, two advertising technology experts, realized that organizations would sometime - most probably soon - no longer be able to collect users’ data without their permission. Rather than sitting idle and waiting for that day to arrive, they founded Ogury, the first digital advertising company anchored in privacy protection.

“They built the company with full respect for privacy at a time when nobody was asking for it, because they saw that this was coming four years ahead of the industry,” said Geoffroy Martin, a tech industry veteran who joined Ogury earlier this year as chief operating officer. 

Ogury’s approach, known as Personified Advertising, allows companies to effectively reach a target audience without the use of cookies and user identifiers. The company has quickly grown from a small startup with offices in the United Kingdom and France to an international group that operates in 14 countries and has over 450 employees. Half of its revenue comes from the United States, which is expected to become a $200 billion digital advertising market by 2025. Among its clients, Ogury’s boasts world-renowned names such as Amazon, Geico, General Mills, Microsoft and Novartis.

Tech giants have recently introduced measures to protect user privacy, such as Apple’s App Tracking Transparency, which asks for people’s permission to be tracked by an app. Google has also announced plans to phase out third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by 2023.

However, Ogury anticipated these changes well before these announcements shook the industry. By giving users control over their data, they were able to aggregate insights from 2 billion consented devices, building a powerful data set and leveraging it to construct user personas instead of targeting individuals who, in many cases, had unknowingly shared their data.

This historical data gives a very precise understanding of Internet users’ behavior and preferences in terms of frequently visited sites and apps. They are constantly updated and enriched thanks to surveys, both generic and customized, focused on the personas they want to build, as well as campaign delivery and performance data.

Personified Advertising isbuilt on personas instead of users’ identity and utilizes the destination ​​where the persona consumes content, instead of the person themselves. “That means you’re not targeting people anymore; you’re targeting assets, i.e. a news website, where you know these people are more likely to be. We are doing this at scale, with the right performance and attention metrics as defined by and agreed with the advertisers,” added Martin. 

The only bullet and future-proof alternative

Many AdTech companies continue to rely on cookies and advertising IDs to run personalized ad campaigns. And while this might still be effective now, in reality, it is a shortsighted approach. Cookies are indeed still available on Chrome just like IDs are still available on Android, but they are set to go out of use in the near future and advertisers and their agencies should not wait any longer to find a future-proof alternative. “We all know that the exploitation of cookies and IDs will become obsolete in the near future. It’s a matter of when, not if." said Martin. “If they don’t evolve, these players are bound to disappear in the coming years, for sure.” 

“Also, when you properly think about it, ultra-personalized advertising seems to be a perversion of the Internet,” Martin said. “A sporting goods brand looking to promote a new bike doesn't need to target just a few specific, eco-friendly individuals who live within a half-mile of its Midwestern catchment area. Instead, this brand wants to target 100,000 or 200,000 people who might buy a bike, and reach them on the assets they consume the most. And surprise: they don't just visit cycling websites!" 

Alternatives to Personified Advertising include contextual and semantic targeting, which simply means placing ads based on their surrounding context, like an advertisement on the Washington Post’s website based on the content of a particular story. “You're inferring what that page and what this content is about, and you're inferring that people within a certain category are going to be interested in that page,” Martin said. “That is like fishing with a very, very big net for small fishes. It just doesn't work.” 

With contextual and semantic targeting, a company might place an advertisement on three cooking apps, thinking they are approximately the same. But with Personified Advertising, Ogury can tell an advertiser that one of the apps is visited mostly by males who are passionate about working out, while another is used primarily by working moms looking for healthy recipes. 

The whole of the AdTech industry has now entered a frenetic race to find alternatives to ID-based targeting. However, developing an entirely new targeting technology model takes time, and it seems to be too late already for the new players in the market. “Our data is unique in the industry; nobody can collect this kind of data anymore,” said Martin. In short, “Personified Advertising is the only one that works at scale and delivers companies’ needs in full respect of people’s privacy.”

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