Brands Must Prepare For Advertising In A Cookie-Less World

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media.

Today’s column is written by Scott Tieman, global head of programmatic services at Accenture Interactive.

The death of cookies is beginning to have real impacts for brands, publishers and everyone in between. Ultimately, it will reshape the entire advertising ecosystem and the way in which brands engage with customers.

In recent years, data breaches, geopolitical election interference and cyberattacks have accelerated new data privacy legislation, including the EU’s GDPR and the California Consumer Privacy Act. These new regulations restrict how brands and technology providers collect and use consumer data, further limiting advertising capabilities.

In an online environment now transformed by privacy regulations, brands must rethink how they acquire and activate customer data – and take steps now to prepare for advertising in a cookie-less future.

Provide value to users in exchange for their data

Brands need to proactively incentivize user authentication and provide value in exchange for data. By engaging users to authenticate on websites or mobile applications, brands will become less reliant on cookies to track users across sessions and devices within their brand environment. Cross-device tracking can be enabled by assigning consumers unique IDs upon authentication. Brands can then establish a foundation for building a complete picture of customer preferences to understand when, where and how customers interact with brands.

Loyalty programs can also be a powerful mechanism to connect online and offline behavior. If a customer browses online while logged into a brand experience and subsequently makes a purchase in a physical store through their rewards account, brands can connect the action and leverage new insights to optimize user experiences and marketing initiatives.

Take back your data

To be successful in this new online environment, brands must reclaim ownership of their data by bringing ad tech contracts in house. When brands own their data, they are empowered to connect data across tools and business units, which can break organizational data silos.

Another benefit of data ownership is access to granular, log-level data, allowing brands to connect disparate sets and build advanced models for customer segmentation, targeting, measurement and optimization.

Invest in an integrated data architecture

Brands need to ensure they’re investing in the right tools across ad tech, mar tech and cloud infrastructure that solve their unique challenges.

To achieve the right architecture, brands should consider consolidating their ad tech, mar tech and other first- and third-party sources. Brands also need to define their data collection and aggregation strategies across platforms to connect disparate data sources in a cloud environment. This ensures seamless data flow between systems in a scalable and cost-effective way.

User identities will need to be connected across platforms, making data onboarding critical to developing a complete customer view. Onboarding solutions with offline data sets and an identity graph based on deterministic and probabilistic data will become essential.

Focus on the art of the possible

When an advertiser can leverage a fully-integrated ad tech and mar tech stack, supplemented by point of sale, CRM and other data sources in a cloud environment, their marketing activation capabilities become more powerful.

Beyond personalized activation, other advertising functions, such as reporting and attribution, become stronger while also introducing advanced capabilities, such as predictive modeling and data-driven segmentation.

For example, by connecting CRM data with onsite or in-app behavioral data, supplemented by granular campaign data, brands can feed connected data sets into machine learning models to produce advanced audience segments and propensity models. These enhanced customer profiles can be leveraged in various activation platforms to serve customers a personalized experience across a brand’s digital landscape.

Develop platform relationships

In an environment constrained by new privacy regulations, brands need to build deeper relationships with major customer platforms, such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. These platforms offer the best endemic data sets. Identifying and pursuing these channels will allow brands to continue to innovate and provide targeted, engaging advertising to the right audiences.

The time to change is now

The future of advertising will change as cookies crumble, technology evolves and data privacy concerns reach a boiling point. For brands to be successful in this new world, they must reimagine user experiences and seriously consider the advantages of data ownership. Now is the time to drive forward a unified advertising and marketing architecture to power future marketing initiatives.

Follow Scott Tieman (@Scott_Tieman), Accenture Interactive (@AccentureACTIVE) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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  1. @Scott you are correct on all counts and these are some good objectives. The challenge is “how” since the entire open ad-tech / ID syncing space relies on cookies or MAIDS, which is limited to app-based mobile engagement. And it’s going to get much worse when Google removes their user ID from log files in 2020.

    The good news is there are solutions. It just starts with 2 steps:

    1. Invest in a privacy-friendly approach to supplementing cookies (i.e. cookieless tracking that includes consumer notice and choice)
    2. Implement an ecosystem-friendly middleware partner (e.g. an independent ad server) to stitch together IDs from DMP, DSP, ID Graph, Verification, Sales Data, CRM and other platforms.

    The tech and the know-how is out there. Marketers just need to wean themselves off of Google (DCM/GMP and DBM/DV360) and future-proof their digital marketing with open, independent partners.

  2. Emma Butler

    Your suggested approach seems to assume you can just do all this data collection and combining data from across the business. And you say nothing about offering the individual choices about data collection and use that is not essential to providing the service. In the EU at least you still need to comply with data protection law.