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

Part 2: How To Overcome Advertising's Top 3 Consumer Insights Challenges

By SCUBA Insights

As we explored in Part 1 of this 2-part series, advertisers today have it tough. Reaching consumers is harder than ever. Privacy regulations continue to expand. Consumers are hesitant to share their data. 


And while people are glued to their phones upwards of 6 hours a day, studies show referral traffic from social media ads and Google has decreased as audiences opt to remain on-site to consume content.


In short? The advertising landscape has changed drastically over the past decade, and there are three major challenges they need to overcome to succeed today:


  • Complexity challenge: Access to high-quality consumer insights in a timely manner has grown increasingly more difficult—making advertisers reactive rather than proactive.
  • Privacy challenge: Consumer privacy regulations, combined with their overall reluctance to share data, means less insights and more red tape.
  • Attention Fragmentation challenge: Consumers are multi-tasking at unprecedented rates, and gaining their attention is harder than ever.


Despite the bleak outlook, it’s not all doom and gloom. There are solutions to each of the dilemmas. Let’s walk through each one below.

Solution #1: Complexity Challenge

The biggest challenge advertisers face today is an age-old problem—timely access to accurate consumer insights.


This is due to a number of factors we explored in Part 1, but the main reason is that most business intelligence platforms take strong technical skills to navigate. 


Since more advertisers aren’t very technical, they’re left at the mercy of data engineering teams to scrub and organize consumer data, however long that would take.

Solution To Complexity Challenge: Accessible Insights

Here’s the thing—consumers' preferences have shifted. Brands used to control most touchpoints, but today, consumers are in the driver’s seat


Now, more than ever before, consumers decide how and when to engage with brands, across search, social, and other third-party results. 


So if you’re not where they are when they want to engage with you, you lose.


To solve this data accessibility problem, advertisers need to take control of their data. How? By expanding their tech stack to include UX-friendly consumer insights. Doing so will empower advertisers to:


  • Know their audience—behavior, preferences, and affinities
  • Create hyper-personalized campaigns
  • Get in-the-moment audience insights and adjust campaigns accordingly
  • Never miss an opportunity to drive powerful connections


Knowing your audience is half the battle, making meaningful connections with them in real-time is the other half. Gaining access to holistic, real-time consumer data is the only path forward. 

Solution #2: Privacy

On top of the complexity of obtaining accurate consumer insights, access to high-quality consumer data is difficult because of expanding regulations and cookie restrictions. Not to mention consumers’ hesitance to even share their information after countless data breaches. 

The solution we discussed in Part 1 was privacy-enhancing technologies (PETs). PETs protect individual privacy through federated learning, differential privacy, and secure multi-party computation.


Solution To Privacy Challenge: AI

Today, most PETs require advanced technical knowledge to access. But thanks to AI, this is changing. AI can work within the restraints of PETs and still gain access to invaluable consumer insights.


As advertisers start to gain exposure to the power of PETs, we should see more of a push for data accessibility. PETs need to be user-friendly and accessible to all—not just data engineers.

Solution #3: The Attention Fragmentation Syndrome

In Part 1 of this series, we explored how nearly half of all consumers have over 41 digital devices and how this led to attention fragmentation.


But there’s a caveat to this. We’ve been told for years that consumers have ~8-second attention span and it’s getting shorter. That’s not entirely true.


As it turns out, consumers have fantastic attention spans for things that pique their interest. How many of us have been served Netflix’s infamous “Are You Still Watching Netflix” prompt?


Attention spans aren’t dwindling, advertisers’ effectiveness is. It’s not entirely your fault. The rapid shift in platform and consumption preferences makes it feel impossible ‌to keep up. 


Solution To Attention Fragmentation: Hyper-personalized Ads

The antidote? Creating in-the-moment experiences that capture and keep your audience’s attention.


Advertisers need to add a predictive consumer insights platform to their tech stack that enables them to:



Public perceptions change quickly. Advertisers’ abilities to be proactive to these shifts will be the defining factor in whether or not they’re successful over the coming years.

Final Thoughts

The future of advertising is predictive, proactive, and personalized. Target audience personas alone are no longer cutting it. Advertisers need to be able to see the next step their consumers will take, and act accordingly. 


Personalized, in-the-moment experiences define today’s world. And if you want to compete, you need to gain access to real-time user insights that help you to deliver the relevant experiences your consumers crave.


Waiting weeks to months for consumer insights is no longer a viable option. Advertisers need to take charge of their data by pursuing technology that makes it accessible to all team members—not just technical ones. Interested to see more on this? Download the full paper here.

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