Suppression Explained: Risks of Activating Media to Restricted Customers

Sometimes, what’s appropriate for one audience is anything but for another.

Take ads for sports betting, an estimated $40 billion global industry gaining even more momentum in the wake of a 2018 U.S. Supreme Court decision granting states the right to authorize commercial wagering on football, basketball, baseball and more. Nine states now offer sanctioned sports gambling options, and roughly two dozen others have made significant strides towards legalization… which means that betting remains strictly verboten across a significant chunk of the nation.

And that means digital betting and gaming platforms must target their advertising efforts with the laser precision of a Tom Brady touchdown pass.

It’s not simply that serving ads promoting Super Bowl bets or Kentucky Derby odds may be perfectly legal in one state and very much illegal in the state next door. Keep in mind that many residents of states where gambling is legal are not yet of legal gambling age. Nor does every resident of a state offering legal sports betting want to receive betting promotions: While more than 60 percent of Americans identify as sports fans, not all of them wager on the outcomes of games. Or maybe the customer has struggled with gambling addiction. Or maybe he objects to gambling on moral or religious grounds.

Sports betting isn’t the only business requiring extreme advertiser delicacy and restraint, for that matter: Pharmaceuticals and alcohol spring immediately to mind. Add to the equation new and forthcoming data privacy legislation like GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act, and it becomes even more critical that brands across all verticals and locales know on a 1:1 level which customers their campaigns may activate and whom they must suppress. There’s no margin for error.

Given all the potential pitfalls, brands in industries with legal obligations to suppress media to specific subsets of audiences can’t gamble their reputations and resources on onboarding customer data files via individual batch — an antiquated process that sacrifices the speed, accuracy and control that are so critical to activating media to only the appropriate customers. Modern marketing demands real-time onboarding, the continual process of ingesting, refreshing and persisting customer data for in-the-moment insights and activation.

Signal puts brands in total control. Once the brand onboards its first-party customer data, Signal creates individual customer profiles that continuously collect additional data from across all devices and touchpoints. This approach empowers the brand to react in real time the moment a customer exhibits a behavior or displays a trait that qualifies for suppression from a campaign.

Think about it in the context of a digital gaming company serving the U.K. market, where sports betting has been legal since 1961 — and where in April 2018, regulators introduced GamStop, an independent self-exclusion scheme enabling problem gamblers to ban themselves from online betting platforms. Betting sites that fail to adhere to GamStop’s rules and restrictions face stiff financial penalties as well as public disapproval, but brands that partner with Signal can suppress media to self-excluded consumers while simultaneously leveraging the myriad of other possibilities inherent in real-time onboarding and activation, like sending push notifications to horse racing enthusiasts moments before post time to remind them to place their bets.

Suppression isn’t just about skirting public controversy, legislative scrutiny and other hazards that endanger a brand’s reputation, of course. It’s also about improving the bottom line. Brands that know which consumers are off-limits can focus spend squarely on audiences who meet their campaign criteria, minimizing ad waste and maximizing ROI. Don’t gamble with your brand’s image or its ad budget; the smart money is on real-time, continuous data onboarding — the ultimate sure thing.

Originally published May 03, 2019

Lara Compton

Lara was formerly Vice President of Marketing at Signal.

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