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A new generation of adtech that prioritises personalisation but doesn’t compromise privacy | Interview with Beatgrid

Adtech is a fundamental part of digital marketing strategy and as the world has gone increasingly digital, it’s now accepted as a fundamental process to business strategy. Businesses ultimately need to share their brand, sell their product, and become visible – in a digital world, ad tech helps achieve that whilst optimizing budget expenditure.  It’s about delivering the right content at the right time to the right consumers. 

But, for advertisers, getting noticed in this digital age isn’t so simple. Not only do brands and companies have to get noticed in an increasingly crowded and competitive digital space, but, they have to do so by meeting strict requirements and abiding by key regulations. 

“Advertising is and has been a cornerstone for businesses since time immemorial, but the way people consume advertisements has changed, and it will continue to do so.”

Whether it’s how cookies are used and managed or how people’s privacy is protected, the advertising world is constantly evolving and players have to keep dancing to keep their toes firmly on the right line. Changing regulations have landed some ad tech companies in hot water and also pushed businesses to rethink their ad approach. Apple, for example, did away with unfettered access device-level identifiers – IDFA (“Identifier for Advertising ”), instead forcing all iOS app makers to get permission to collect and use IDFAs from users. And let’s not forget that in August this year, the creepy tracking ads world took a blow as French ad tech unicorn Criteo was found in breach of regulations and hit with a €60 million sanction. 

One adtech company that’s aiming to help optimize the advertising processes for global brands and marketers is Beatgrid. The idea is to provide a solution for the main cause of headaches for these global teams today – the accurate measurement for attribution of advertising investments. The Dutch startup essentially cuts ‘ad waste’, allowing for better allocation of media budgets, through using passive ACR technology. 

“The advertising market is screaming for accuracy, the existing solutions are not keeping up with change”

We chatted with co-founder Daniel Tjondronegoro to learn more about Beatgrid and find out how adtech startups can restore trust between brands and consumers, making marketing strategy more ethical, as well as what’s next for this space. 

Beatgrid: pinpointing advertising strategy

Advertising is crucial to any business and it’s the bread and butter of any marketing strategy. Getting it right, though, requires the right strategy and an optimal approach. Just like spreading cold butter on bread can be a bit of a mess, so can a sub-par ad strategy. Beatgrid aims to tackle that. 

The company was founded by two friends, Leon van Zantvoort and Daniel Tjondronegoro, while they watched the 2016 Olympic Games and were struck by the random array of advertising. 

“We were surprised by the ‘scattergun’ approach taken by even the biggest brands and knew then that there was a gap in the market for technology that could facilitate the personalisation of advertising data to greater effect.”

Ad solutions for marketers

“One of the biggest challenges marketers and businesses face is knowing where and when to spend their ad budgets for greater ROI. So, focused on this issue, we developed technology that offers single-source cross-media ad exposure and retail footfall measurement, helping advertisers, media buyers and media planners to better understand where to optimize their cross-platform budgets marketing. Beatgid has developed the industry’s most advanced mobile passive Automatic Content Recognition (ACR) technology for panel-based cross-media measurement, combined with industry-leading geofencing tracking. 

“In developing this technology, we have remained acutely aware of the importance of data security and privacy, and this remains front and centre in our development and growth strategy. Everything is double-opt-in for our app users, and we try to be as clear as possible about all privacy questions – as it is vital to any business in an age where people are aware and conscious, from the get-go we are building products with that in mind.

“The advertising market is screaming for accuracy, the existing solutions are not keeping up with change, they have seen the problems and currently paper over the cracks with fixes, but as with incumbents around the world, startups have arrived that make things ten times easier, faster, and more often than not cheaper than previously. Incumbents are either partnering up with, absorbing or being “inspired” by startups to build very similar products, at speed. “

Why is adtech so important?

Advertising is such an inherent part of a business that we are completely accustomed to it in our everyday life. Whether it’s the subtle ads that we see in our Instagram feeds every day, the billboards we pass on our daily commute, or the emails popping up in our inbox, it’s thought that we interact with thousands of ads every single day. 

We wanted Daniel’s opinion. Why should businesses take adtech seriously?

“Advertising is and has been a cornerstone for businesses since time immemorial, but the way people consume advertisements has changed, and it will continue to do so. This is where adtech solutions come into play, they alleviate the complexities of a complicated media landscape to help ensure advertisers are investing and tracking the outcomes of their advertising campaigns.

“Today, for instance, media buyers and planners will be increasingly seduced by the idea of optimizing their ad spend and cross-media budgets by tracking performance metrics like incremental reach per channel, ad creative efficiency, frequency and cut-through, brand lift, or OOH (out of home) footfall attribution. Adtech, amongst other things, looks to streamline all of that into manageable data that can be digested and acted upon. “

What challenges are on the horizon? 

“Today, the biggest challenge is understanding what’s at stake for all involved stakeholders (media buyers and consumers). Adtech solutions must comprehend that in order to satisfy their clients, they must thoroughly address consumers’ concerns, namely, properly addressing data transparency and data treatment, so they feel comfortable enough to voluntarily opt-in in media research studies. 

“There’s frustration from both sides, first, adtech solutions’ walled gardens are forcing marketing teams to depend on a handful of software companies to track their own performance data. This scenario leads to a situation where brands can’t properly target their audiences, hence bombarding consumers with irrelevant content. And conversely, it’s also what makes the future so exciting for this sector. We are heading towards an inflection point where the old ways of advertising simply won’t work anymore.” 

“For us in the industry, this is a fantastic opportunity to push the sector in the right direction and really improve upon the perceptions of it, while also improving the performance of advertisers’ capabilities.” 

What about public perception?

There’s no doubt, some ads are just creepy. Ever had a conversation with a friend about something or some product totally randomly and then seconds later seen it popping up on your Instagram feed? Or the ads that keep following you after you make an Amazon purchase? The truth is, there is a lot of consumer uncertainty and disdain towards ads, and with tech becoming more and more powerful, there are certainly some ethical considerations that need to be taken. 

We asked Daniel to shed some light on this issue: 

“The general perception is always going to be attuned to what the major players are doing and the implications that follow them in the general media, and at the moment that’s not necessarily positive. However, we believe this is going to change, as general perceptions have already led to a shift in direction within the industry itself along with more oversight in keeping track of it. A good example of this is what we have experienced in just a few years, with the birth and death of cookies and how now adtechs will have to move to cookieless solutions. 

“New GDPR and CCPA-like regulations will eventually appear, and adtech, as an industry, will have to nimbly pivot as part of understanding that without satisfied users, accurate media research will be virtually impossible to conduct.”

What do you think is behind adtech’s poor reputation?

“Negative media coverage, data leaks, privacy breaches, all without consent of users – moreso, negative views of how global organisations and even governments and politicians have used data to undermine privacy, Cambridge Analytica being a key example in the UK, have had knock-on effects, it seems to many now that even the word data is tainted badly.” 

What is trust in advertising all about – and why is it important?

“All stakeholders need to understand what is at stake, and that means comprehend that in order to satisfy their clients, and they must thoroughly address consumers’ concerns, namely, properly addressing data transparency and data treatment, so they feel comfortable enough to voluntarily opt-in and allow the use of their data and so they have clear expectations of what to encounter when participating in media research. 

“This is important because working with the consumers – who, without which there is no need for advertising – means that trust is explicit, and they are made aware of their rights throughout the process.”

How can adtech become part of restoring trust in the sector?

“Many of the solutions today are already building their tech to work towards a cookieless world, working with the consumers, and tracking where the data is coming from and going to. All while ensuring that the businesses are likewise efficient with their ads, for both ad spend and creating relevant campaigns for their audiences.”

How can adtech be used to make marketing strategies more respectful of privacy?

“One simple and effective way is to require an opt-in data collection methodology. Panelists must understand the implications of participating in accurate media research studies. They should first be asked and made aware of what data of theirs is being collected and used, as well as properly briefed during the onboarding and throughout the market research process, so their user expectations are met, thus positively influencing their participation levels.”

The Post-Cookie era

It’s been said by many that we are now moving to a cookieless era. When hearing this, many of us might fear a future without chocolate chips, but in the tech space, it has a different connotation. And it’s something that can have an impact on how businesses operate and interact.

What does the post-cookie era mean?

How can businesses navigate this transition?

“Companies pivoting to first-party and zero-party deterministic data will be the norm, as opposed to continuing to use claimed advertising exposure data. With the death of cookies, it will be the rise of new cookieless and pixel-less adtech solutions.”

What are the knock-on impacts for consumers?

“Apple, Google, Facebook and other big tech’s walled gardens are a reality that marketing teams have to face -and especially when addressing their advertising agendas. However, walled gardens are not only exclusive to big adtech solutions but are also connected to first-party data that media publishers own. 

Brand advertisers are testing and looking for new analytic solutions that can justify their media investments and can help them better connect with their audiences. Yet, for the established and fairly new adtech players in the mix, the consequences of the death of cookies will result in the inability to properly visualize and measure consumer journeys losing sight of up and mid-funnel mind metrics. Thus disemboguing in a new tendency where poorly targeted customers, spread out in the most fragmented media landscape ever seen, will be prone to receiving meaningless advertising content.“ 

Trends to look out for

Given Daniel’s inherent expertise in this space, we wanted to find out more about what the future has in store for adtech. The company has been undertaking various studies to keep an eye on adtech challenges, identifying what may become stumbling blocks in the future. 

Here’s what they’ve found: 

Panels are back. But not device-level data-based panels from set-top boxes and smart TVs, but single-source mobile ACR cross-device panels with the ability to validate census-level information by using deterministic ad exposure data to spot impressions and duplicate audiences.

“Media buyers and planners are rethinking the ways how their ad campaigns must be structured, and are doing so by incorporating advertising hyper-personalisation/hyper-customisation in the pipeline. This is present on different fronts, (1) understanding which media channels are incremental to which audiences; and (2) learning how AV creatives are impacting mind measures across the marketing funnel (awareness, interest, consideration and purchase intent).

CTV is hot. Real-campaign industry data collected over the past two years has proven that not only there is an audience on CTV but also that it is anything between 30-50% purely incremental to Linear TV. In other words, 30-50% of the total reach on CTV is incremental and exclusive (and this is even more so for the harder-to-reach younger audiences). However, brand advertisers will need high-quality CTV data to first map and then manage this new TV frontier.

“A clear opportunity for OOH as a vital support channel for TV and CTV as younger audiences are likely to be reached outdoors. OOH, and to be more accurate, DOOH is offering a range of unique formats and locations for major brand messaging at high visual impact, unleashing astoundingly positive brand lift metrics with Millennials and Gen Zs. With real cross-campaign data we have been able to see how not only there is a younger audience on OOH but also that it is anything around 45% purely incremental to -for instance- BVOD and TV. “

Patricia Allen
Patricia Allen
is the Head of Content at EU-Startups. With a background in politics, Patricia has a real passion for how shared ideas across communities and cultures can bring new initiatives and innovations for the future. She spends her time bringing you the latest news and updates of startups across Europe, and curating our social media.

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