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Advertising on the wrong track?

If you follow the debate about the use of personalised advertising, two topics come up again and again: Cookies and artificial intelligence (AI). While cookies represent the technical basis for playing out personalised advertising, AI pursues the goal of optimising advertising. In this context, the question arises as to what targeted advertising on the web should look like in the future, because cookies are gradually becoming a discontinued model.

In addition, the use of cookies is becoming increasingly difficult, because "browser manufacturers have discovered the topic of data protection for themselves and are increasingly actively blocking the use of 3rd party cookies regardless of legally anchored specifications" (BVDW: Why "Advertising Identity" is the future answer for targeted delivery of advertising, November 2019). In addition, the legal basis stipulates that users must be offered the possibility to switch off cookies with a simple click. So if cookies are to be a thing of the past in the future, the question is how the systems used in ad tech (advertising technology) can use AI/machine learning (ML) to optimise and target advertising to individuals or specific audiences as a result.

Panel Salon Kreativ 10

On 11 December, media:net berlinbrandenburg e.V., the Senate Department for Economics, Energy and Business (SenWEB) and Project Future organised a discussion evening around the topic of AdTech. In the forum of the Volkswagen We Space Berlin, a panel of practitioners and experts came together who have to continuously deal with the topic of AdTech in their field of work, among other things: Matthias Haase from Zalando, Fabian Schaeffer from Adjust and Stefano Viani from Blackbit digital Commerce GmbH were allowed to share their views on the subject on this evening.

AdTech and AI: Where is the journey heading?

The discussion in the panel served to exchange future-oriented strategies. In conclusion, the interaction between tracking service providers and advertisers, among others, will remain indispensable in the future. The challenge is to find a technological way to personalise advertising while preserving privacy. Stefano Viani: "Advertising should be helpful, that is, offer products and services according to my actual needs. There is a need to educate consumers here. Often they are not aware that the personalisation of advertising is meant to prevent us from being flooded with inappropriate offers. For this, it is necessary to recognise the user in anonymised form. If artificial intelligence is then added for the targeting of advertising, the consumer has the feeling of completely giving up control over his private life." As a result, the use of AI, its functionality and optimisation must also be reconsidered.

Salon Kreativ VianiViani clearly sees humans continuing to develop strategy when it comes to the use of AI. AI can support the implementation of advertising, but it remains up to humans to assess, evaluate and, if necessary, rethink this strategy. Humans also remain responsible for the creativity aspect: "In my opinion, creativity, emotions and the development of interesting messages remain with humans. Production, optimisation and control of advertising media and campaigns will change under the influence of AI," says Viani.

Where the journey will ultimately lead cannot be answered at this point. However, there are platforms in the starting blocks where users and consumers can register to configure individual advertising according to their interests. With the provider netID, users can use their personal login to find out where and by whom their data is stored and delete it if necessary. This confronts the user with his surfing behaviour and sensitises him to the data that the system stores with the help of his surfing behaviour. At the same time, the issue of relevance is covered.

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