What happens in a world beyond cookies? As the world moves towards implementing more online security and personal privacy laws, it has become increasingly important for marketers to find new and creative ways to reach their target audiences. To learn more about the way some companies are approaching this new frontier, the Spectacle team had the opportunity to speak with Akaash Ramakrishnan, co-founder of AdSkate, a contextual content analysis platform that empowers advertising in a cookieless world.
1. Spectacle: Hi Akaash! Thanks for joining us today. Why don’t we start with you telling us a bit more about your background and journey towards founding AdSkate?
Akaash: With a background in consumer behavior and a Master’s in Finance, I am well-versed in the business world. In 2017, after working for a few years at a Fortune 500 advertising agency, I noticed gaps in the advertising ecosystem, most pressing around cookie deprecation and privacy concerns that were going to be addressed by Europe’s GDPR law. With limited knowledge at the time about the specifics of the law and implications for US companies, I saw an opportunity in developing the AdTech space. My lightbulb moment was to build a solution built on transparent and for privacy-conscious consumers while still providing valuable data for businesses. Thus, AdSkate was born.
2. Spectacle: Do you mind giving a quick overview of what AdSkate does?
Akaash: AdSkate is a contextual analysis platform that studies content in audio, video, and text. The tool provides analytics crucial to decision making to evaluate ad placements by providing critical consumer insights. We are constantly studying content through repositories such as YouTube and TikTok. Context is king.
AdSkate tries to study content that’s on a specific website and then provide relevant data points, such as keywords, sentiment, brand safety, etc., that is on par with the sentiment of the article. The tool will understand and annotate the necessary points companies need to know when considering where to place their ads, all while maintaining users’ individual privacy.
3. Spectacle: Can you tell us more about what is happening in AdTech today and why it is important for people to think about this in a different way than in the past?
Akaash: The advertising ecosystem has experienced a sea of change in recent years. New government policies and updated internet privacy policies from big players such as Apple and Google mean that users have more control over their information. With the onset of the pandemic and the subsequent increase in the importance of understanding those trends has only increased.
A key term birthed through the pandemic “Connected TV” highlights the rise in consumption through smart home media devices, such as the Amazon Firestick, Roku, and Apple TV. As a result, more media buyers want to buy ad placement through the services themselves for a more amplified advertising method in a more localized manner.
4. Spectacle: What has occurred recently to catalyze these changes?
Akaash: These changes are a result of the power of cookie collection today. Back in the early 90s when the internet was in its infancy, cookies were created to learn more about users’ individual behaviors. In the years since, that power has been abused resulting in a less private experience.
For context, there are two types of cookies that are at the forefront of collection today—first-party and third-party. First-party cookies are those that you agree to and are specific to the websites you directly visit, whereas third-party cookies are collected by your session, browsing history, session ID, etc. Third-party cookies are highly specific to the individual and companies that collect this information do not let you know that they have it, making regulation more complicated.
5. Spectacle: What does this transition mean for marketers and ultimately consumers as well?
Akaash: Going forward, marketers should prioritize leveraging all of the first-party data and the contextual information they can get. As traditional methods of targeting customers are dwindling and methods prioritizing transparency and privacy are gaining traction, marketers need to find a different method of interacting with consumers in order to stay seen. Consumers want to be ensured that their privacy will always be protected—and the mission at AdSkate is just that: to bring transparency to this ecosystem.
While the larger ad ecosystem is scrambling for solutions to counteract the rapidly changing landscape, I see it as a rebirth that allows for smaller players to come in and provide better solutions.
6. Spectacle: Do you have any advice for marketers moving forward in a cookieless future?
- Make a plan: Understand objectives through the programmatic route.
- Understand your users: Dive into your own psychographic analytics.
- Take advantage of available tools: Leverage brand measurement tools and social listening.
- Look outwards: Utilize information from any publisher data.
- Put it into action: Create engagements that are creative and eye-catching.