AdTech Reboot

The new disruptive thinking around Trust in digital advertising

Judy Shapiro

Judy Shapiro

Editor-in-Chief at The Trust Web Times
Judy Shapiro

Judy Shapiro

Editor-in-Chief at The Trust Web Times

Once we accept that AdTech fails marketers often, we create the space for radical new approaches to allow trust to dominate in the online world.

Creating trust in online advertising is a challenge. After all, how does one take the most basic human elements of trust and transform it into a technological process that advertisers can access?

Today, AdTech has not risen to the challenge. It continues to be dominated by black boxes, AI and data defying easy answers to inject meaningful trust into online adverting.

Ad fraud continues at unverifiable levels.

Accountability remains elusive.

Personalization defies easy execution (and runs the risk of crossing privacy lines).

Publishers continue to struggle to monetize their quality content.

Now is the time to introduce genuinely new thinking that can create new digital ad models into the advertising marketplace.

We are not talking about tinkering around the edges anymore.

  • We are not talking about which ad verification services catches “enough” fraud
  • We are not going to try to compare which buying platform does a better job at buying scale “impressions”
  • We do not accept anymore that “impressions” or CPM should be the currency of AdTech

New thinking requires a new roadmap. A statement of purpose.


We acknowledge that when leveraged properly, marketing is capable of changing the world. Marketing at its best, makes it possible for organizations to serve their audiences in ways that improve their worldview and wellbeing. And we’ll even go a step further. We recognize that marketing can change behaviors, social norms and drive cultural impacts that are fingerprints of how we evolve into the future.

To deliver the potential of marketing and to advance our mission, we must build the technical bridges to create trust between marketers, online audiences and publishers. The Trust Web Times will be a foundation for how trust in digital marketing evolves.


The Trust Web Times is committed to opening up new dialogues to affirm these principles:

1) Words are everything. Trust starts with what an organization says. Trust is not once and done but is reflected in what companies say every day.  

2) No place for jargon. Nothing undermines trust faster than lots of tech-babble from AdTech firms. Nothing builds trust better than jargon busting. If you see jargon, say so. All marketing firms should be able to say what they mean and mean what they say.

3) Develop trust design expertise. People have learned to tune out marketing that feels like marketing. So marketing should aim feel like it’s coming from a trusted friend – not an algorithm. This requires a new skill set around trust design that merges creativity with technology.

4) Customer-driven, not company-driven. Too much of marketing relies on technology to create trust. This is flawed as people are tech fatigued. Instead, trusted marketing means you tell people exactly what you want them to do – directly without obscuring hidden agendas (ie – collecting data). Customers above all else. ‘Nuf said.

5) Trust is the jet fuel of conversion marketing: Never break the trust with your audiences if you want to drive revenue. This means, firms should never do things like spam people or track profiles. Never. This also means using the right technology to build trusted conversations with audiences instead of trying to “sell” them.

6) Be advocates for good marketing. Good marketing is showing, not telling. Good marketing is ethical marketing. Good marketing means marketing you are proud to tell you parents about. These are things we know it when we see it. Be a champion of “good” marketing that does good.

7) Keep communications human. Understanding customer characteristics, needs and behaviors is at the heart of marketing. These can be evoked by technology but it takes the human element to act on it with integrity. Delivering more relevant communications, products and services that serve audiences well will also serve advertisers well because it will drive better revenue. 

8) Measurement and optimization are your foundation. Data in all its forms requires a wholesale relook given the vast array of data available from questionable sources. Data in a trusted marketing ecosystem will be grounded in new platforms that promote transparency of data supply chain.

10) Engagement with real people is real. Marketing conversion is, at its most basic level, a conversation with audiences. Trusted marketing is creating spaces for interactive conversations where the user is in control. It’s exciting that technology can bring us closer to customers, yet this cannot obscure the User’s preferences and permission to connect.

Creating trust in online advertising will dominate the next 10 years of digital technology evolution. Come join our cause and subscribe to this cause.

The work has begun. But only just.