Did the digital advertising industry ever think about asking the user for data in return for a reward?

With all the current news and concerns around user data privacy there is no doubt that ad-tech companies around the world are only adding more problems to the matter and not effectively tackling the issue at hand.

The methods and strategies that are used today to tackle ad-tech from a user targeting perspective likely started by mainly appeasing to the advertisers’ plethora of specifications and requirements, which eventually leaves the users in a dust storm of ad-tech junk that floods their browsers and consumes their precious mobile bandwidth.

A lot are asking “what are the users gaining from all of that tech if their data is that important to be labelled a ‘gold mine’?” I say they get nothing more than an ad delivery that leads to a bad enough user experience and campaign targeting that further promotes the use of ad blocks.

So much money wasted.

The way I see it where a lot of the discussed issues are resolved (in my opinion at least) is by getting consent from the user (across only his/her browser, device, etc) to provide machine readable data (not human readable) so that it’s encrypted and locked down in a “database” of some sort (blockchain makes sense in this case I suppose). This data will reside alongside the user’s devices, browsers, etc and not escape them. This is different from browser cookies and user web trails as it’s specific user inputted data.

From the advertisers’ side, they will provide their targeting parameters for their campaigns and it will be up to some sort of platform that matches those parameters to the user’s locally stored data. This is perhaps a very high level explanation/concept and would most likely be more complex, but the main idea is to keep the consented user data with the user.

Publishers can start promoting this platform first to ad-block users by telling them that they aren’t just supporting the site by white-listing them, but they’ll also get rewarded.

Why would the user supply data to feed this process? Mainly due to the fact that they will get rewarded and as a result their ad experience will greatly improve.  I personally think those users with ad blockers are the main audience to entice first as they are more likely to understand the pros/cons of such a technical problem. I mean, those users went above and beyond to block ads in the first place. If they know they will get rewarded and have a better ad experience, why wouldn’t they consent?

That platform would most likely require a whole new pipeline between buyer, seller and user but will dramatically improve the cost and efficiency of ad delivery and greatly reduce ad fatigue, fraud, ad blockers, and the hundreds of third-party ad-tech vendors that keep taking a cut out of the advertiser’s budget resulting in much higher eCPMs for publishers.

The key here is to get the user to supply their data and for them to know it’s stored and secured locally where it will be only used to match against existing advertiser campaigns and for that they get rewarded. There are some initiatives or discussions today around rewarding users for viewing ads, but that’s still not solving the user data targeting mess. It’s still placing the advertisers before the users to improve their campaign’s viewability.

Consumers all over the world are already used to such methods, especially with their credit cards that offer rewards in a form of either points or cash. They are already used to it and understand the value returned to them even though they are essentially giving up their purchasing trails and insights to some vendor.

Internet users have changed and they are more adaptable than ever. I totally see a future where users will be selecting their favorite brands, hobbies, sports, and more into a platform that is vendor, browser and device agnostic to improve their browsing experience and get rewarded outside the walled gardens of Facebook and Google. Could this platform become an open source initiative that gets native Windows, MacOS, iOS, and Android compatibility?

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