The Battle for ATTENTION: Will AI Save The Advertising Industry in a Privacy-Driven Economy?

Part 1: Advertising's 3 Major Consumer Insights Challenges

By SCUBA Insights

Advertising has come a long way since the Mad Men “Golden Age”— a time with low competition, incredible reach, and a singularly focused consumer.


Today, advertisers have it tough. Despite consumers being glued to their smartphones at astronomical rates, upwards of 5 to 6 hours for Americans, reaching them is harder than ever.


A large part of today’s advertising woes centers around consumer insights. Privacy concerns and regulation shifts have made accurate data less accessible. Combine that with short attention spans and rapidly evolving consumption habits, and it’s easy to see how much work advertisers have cut out for them today.


In Part 1 of this two part series we’ll explore three pivotal industry challenges today’s advertisers face surrounding consumer insights, and how without a solution, it’s only going to get worse.

Challenge #1: Complexity

Consumer insights used to have a much longer shelf life than they do today. It could take weeks to months to gain access to them, and that was ok. Change was slower, so they were still relevant. That’s no longer the case today. 


In today’s world, you need nearly instant insights if you want to create meaningful engagements with your audience. And that’s largely due to the fact that we live in a world of instant gratification. Algorithms used by social media giants like TikTok and Meta have conditioned consumers to expect hyper-personalized content in real-time


But unless you’re a major social media app, real-time consumer insights aren’t easily accessible to advertisers for one major reason:


They’re not engineers.


Today, most BI systems rely heavily on data engineers with coding expertise to access and scrub the consumer data. And since most advertisers aren’t technical enough to tackle this task themselves, they’re at the mercy of these teams to do it—oftentimes waiting weeks to over a month for insights. 


Modern day consumers demand real-time engagement. But the complexity of accessing consumer insights is hindering advertisers’ ability to accomplish this—leaving substantial money and opportunity on the table.

Challenge #2: Privacy

Accessing data is the first pain-point. The second? Obtaining decent consumer insights to begin with. 


Consumers have grown weary when it comes to sharing their data—and rightfully so. They’ve been burned by data breaches and spammy marketing tactics. 


Combine consumer reluctance to share with expanding regulations (GDPR, CCPA) and the phasing out of third-party cookies and it equates to more restrictions and less consumer insights.


But there is some headway being made in this area. The rise of privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs) is meant to be a solution for both consumers and advertisers. PETs protect individual privacy in three major ways:


1.) Federated learning: also known as collaborative learning, federated learning trains algorithms in a decentralized state without ever exchanging data

2.) Differential privacy: using machine learning to analyze consumer data while preserving privacy

3.) Secure multi-party computation: the ability for multiple users to  extract insights and collaborate on data as it remains fully encrypted


While fantastic for adhering to consumer data privacy and protection, most PETs are highly technical and require heavy lifting from engineers. 


In short? Most PET offerings on the market today are not able to be accessed or used by non-technical folks like marketers and advertisers.  

Challenge #3: The Attention Fragmentation Syndrome

The third pivotal advertising challenge of today centers around the attention fragmentation syndrome. We have more digital applications than ever before, and it’s not necessarily a good thing. 


As of 2023, 45% of consumers have 41+ digital devices and 46% of consumers have 11+ digital subscriptions. The more media consumption choices introduced to the market, the more distracted consumers become. 


In order to compete and win their attention, you need to truly know your audience—their unique behaviors, interests, and affinities. 


But that’s not all. You then need to take those deep user insights and combine them with the ability to analyze and react to campaign data in real-time. 


The only way to do this is by having a system that democratizes data access and captures in-the-moment insights. But most advertisers don’t even know where to begin to look for this type of solution.

Final Thoughts

Advertisers today have it harder than ever before. They’re vying for a rapidly diminishing amount of consumer time, while also working against accessibility and privacy restrictions. 


Despite the dim outlook, there is a path forward. There’s a surprisingly simple way to gain access to in-the-moment consumer insights that help you create meaningful experiences that drive revenue.


In Part 2 of this series, we’ll reveal how you can break down the data barriers standing between you and the real-time decision intelligence you need to supercharge your campaigns. Interested to see more on this? Download the full paper here

Stay Updated

Stay in touch with Scuba with fresh insights delivered to your inbox.

Ready to dive in?

We'd love to connect.

Talk to an Expert