1:1 Marketing Is Not Dead: A Crusade For User Fidelity

By Julian Baring, Regional President – Americas, Adform

Every article I read about the “cookieless future” leaves me envisioning a desolate world where the dream of 1:1 marketing has died, and we’re all back to Wanamaker’s infamous cliché (Which half of my spend is wasted?).

But that dream is not dead. It’s just lost amid an increasingly fragmented landscape of first-party IDs – and clouded by the limited transparency and control offered by the Big Tech players.

I’ve been on a crusade of late to show peers across the industry three things they need to know in order to sustain the promise of 1:1 marketing:

1. The future state hinges on first-party IDs – but things are messy at the moment.

Let’s start with something we can all agree on: First-party IDs are the key to the future of 1:1 marketing. The challenge is no longer where/how to find those first-party IDs. We’re now looking at an overpopulated, increasingly fragmented landscape. You have a myriad of players, each pushing their own identity currency, with new players coming along with first-party IDs almost every week.

To move forward, we need to recognize that there is no one ID to rule them all – nor will there ever be.

2. You won’t get there with the best-of-breed approach.

On top of the proliferation of first-party IDs, plenty of marketers and agencies are still clinging to the tech stacks they worked so hard to build over the last 10 to 15 years – legacy tech that relies on cookies to stitch together IDs, rendering it all but worthless with the deprecation of third-party cookies and the so-called cookieless future.

Here’s where my outlook turns much more promising: The solution to this fragmented first-party ID problem is coming out of the natural maturation of the ad tech market itself.

See, we’re still in the early stages of the classic industry life cycle: Innovation drives market competition, and the best practice has been a best-of-breed approach, with distinct solutions for each step in the value chain (creative, media targeting, data, activation, optimization, attribution, reporting, etc.).

Like I mentioned, this approach falls apart without cookies to stitch it all together.

Marketers and agencies will need to shift toward more comprehensive, integrated solutions to get back to 1:1 marketing. If they want to be able to work with a consistent set of KPIs, they need to begin building an integrated tech stack that ties together the entire value chain in one cohesive platform, with one cohesive data set – rather than blindly chasing users from one walled garden to the next.

Every industry moves toward consolidation as it matures. The urgent challenge of fragmented first-party IDs just gives the industry a healthy shove toward that next phase.

3. Big Tech is not giving transparency and control advertisers need.

Up to this point, I sound like a pitch man for Big Tech – the traditional flag-bearers of consolidation. Indeed, the tech giants are offering all-in-one stacks that promise a solution for the cookieless future.

But that promise is clouded by Big Tech’s approach. Grouping is not 1:1 marketing. Limited transparency to the buy side means you can’t independently attribute at a granular level. Going this route limits your ability to get a clear, detailed picture of your mROI.

Envisioning a better path forward

We’re at the classic fork in the road as an industry. Going forward with best-of-breed tech stacks is a dead end. And Big Tech’s road ends well short of 1:1 attribution, in part because tech giants have their own profitable destination in mind.

There is a better way to proceed. A segment of the market began building toward the future state of cookieless 1:1 marketing long before cookie deprecation forced the matter upon the rest of the industry. These independent players have built their business models around delivering full transparency and control to the buy side. They make money by helping their clients succeed, rather than by harvesting their data.

Our goal has always been to enable an ID-agnostic approach. We’ve spent the last 20 years building a platform from the ground up to establish a user across multiple touchpoints when no consistent ID is available – to deliver cookieless insights.

Savvy marketers are going the alternative route – and seeing big results

It’s exciting to see more and more forward-thinking marketers and agencies well on their way down this third path.

Using integrated, purpose-built platforms for cookieless insights, they’re uncovering around half the users hidden on devices, browsers and channels that have already deprecated cookies. They’re building impressive results on top of this user fidelity. We’re seeing clients doubling their net reach, cutting their media wastage in half and boosting conversion rates by as much as 300%.

I told you the dream wasn’t dead.

 

 

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