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3 minute read | June 3, 2021

The non-future of individual tracking

Written By: Benoit Vidal

The non-future of individual tracking

Earlier this year, Apple made the Mobile Advertising ID (MAID) opt-in on a per-app basis with the iOS 14.5 update, in an open war with Facebook. Recent data shows that more than 85% of global iOS users and 95% of US users choose not to be tracked, proving that consumers’ desire for privacy has been a long-term wish. 

Meanwhile, Google recently announced that they will no longer carry out individual user tracking across the web in the future, starting off by completely removing cookie tracking from Google Chrome, with FLoC being proposed as an alternative solution. Whilst FLoC might not be the solution that everyone is waiting for, it is pretty clear the ad tech industry should and must move away from its over-reliance on individual tracking. 

Opportunity for change

Individual tracking taken too far can cause more harm than good, as seen in the Cambridge Analytica/Facebook scandal or in more private environments, with the result that regulated policies have started to appear.

In the US, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) allows any Californian consumer the right to see all the information a company has saved on them, as well as the full list of all third parties their data has been shared with. In addition, the California law allows consumers to sue companies if the privacy guidelines are violated, even if there is no breach. Prior to the CCPA law, GDPR in Europe had already had an impact on data availability, and with all these privacy changes being implemented, privacy now lies firmly back in the hands of the user.

So with third party cookies and MAIDs on the way out, the advertising industry has to adapt and develop new ways to reach their audiences. This is ad tech’s second chance. 

While those involved with online are still figuring out how advertising technology will work in the future, ad tech in out of home (OOH) is not waiting around.

OOH - the “privacy by design” media

Due to the nature of always needing to consider their environment, screens located nearby schools, for example, are not treated the same way as screens near a nightclub. For a long time, brands using OOH media have had to ensure their proposition in the public space was the right one. With the evolution and increasing adoption of digital and programmatic OOH, this emphasis is still a top priority. 

Advertisers today are able to execute their advertising in a privacy-first world without personalisation being compromised: 

  • OOH offers control on what’s being shown, allowing brand safety and suitability in a fraud-free environment.
  • OOH does not collect individual user data, and therefore cannot profile users individually. Rather, audience data is aggregated and flexes by time of day, day of week, etc. 
  • OOH offers contextually relevant targeting based on supply data, location and audience knowledge.

With advances in OOH, we’ve been ahead of the changes and already provide the means to target audiences with contextually relevant ads, and take care that our data partners respect today's legal environment. 

In tomorrow’s environment, where brands don’t want to rely on online advertising and its individual tracking, there is an opportunity to amplify reach with OOH advertising. That is why VIOOH is investing in location intelligence, research in data science, and we are embracing the cookie-free / MAID-free world ahead. 

With new technology such as population synthesizers creating look-a-like personas, we can realistically represent the behavior of individuals in simulation. Large-scale mobile data and computational models are now able to fully reproduce the real-world. By predicting how individuals move from place to place and the frequency at which they do so, it is possible to define prominent clusters of attractive OOH destinations in time and space.

I believe this will open up unprecedented possibilities for OOH, enabling predictive movements to inform audience targeting. And who knows, maybe the online world will be inspired to follow the “old” industry of OOH.

Benoit Vidal is Head of Product Strategy at VIOOH. For more information visit:

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