First-Party Data Is About Building Trust…Not Control

Armen Petrosian DISQO

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 Armen Petrosian, Co-Founder & CMO, DISQO.

Vienna Pharaon, a marriage and family therapist, once wrote, “There are relationships that create so much safety that you no longer need to pretend to be someone you are not. Let that be your standard.”

I thought about these comments recently while reading an AdExchanger article addressing the challenges some brands face in amassing first-party data. Among the important comments by the author is that, for some brands, seeking scalable first-party data requires a tremendous amount of resources and experimentation — and that this costs money, could be a “major distraction,” and might hurt a brand’s profitability.

As described, it’s true that the value proposition for a consumer in sharing data with Nike is very different from the potential value in sharing data with Philadelphia Cream Cheese. However, there is good news for fast-moving consumer brands (FMCG): first-party, panel-based solutions are available to help.

Everyone agrees, cookies are a hard habit to break

Replacing the role played by third-party cookies in the marketing ecosystem is a mighty challenge. Because cookies are an ad tech solution, perhaps it is natural that our first-inclination as an industry is to look for other tech solutions. However, we need a bigger reset, one focused on creating trust with the consumer.

Not many marketing technologists embrace trust as a central theme in their work. At this moment, ad tech’s primary focus is a new arms race to ensure that this control continues in a new privacy-compliant fashion. However, “privacy-compliant” does not necessarily mean the solution is trusted by the consumer.

This is why so many brands are turning to their own first-party data — the data they have or the data they aspire to build. After all, if the consumer has given you access, this would imply an exchange of value trusted by the consumer. But this approach gets challenging for many brands.

Brand-owned first-party data may not be the panacea in the cookieless future

Most brands, particularly those in the FMCG category, don’t have legitimate reasons to interact with their target audience around data unless they create new content, solutions and services that consumers would value in exchange for their information. However, even for those who are rich in first-party data, there are huge challenges as we migrate away from third-party cookies.

Notably, brands with first-party data may be tempted to optimize their campaigns by investing more in ads that have shown to be better at driving traffic to their own websites. While this might seem intuitively wise, our research shows that views of product pages on ecommerce platforms are two to four times more effective than visits to product pages on a brand’s own website.

By optimizing on campaign elements driving engagement on their own sites, brands could actually be driving down their ROI. However, brands wouldn’t know this without some means of cross-platform measurement. This is where panel-based measurement approaches must come into play.

At best, brand-owned first-party data is a partial solution for those who have it — and a bigger challenge for those who don’t.

Some people want to share. Others want value in exchange for their data.

Here’s the truth: some people value privacy above all and don’t want to share information with the brands in their lives, nor the intermediaries whom they don’t know. As an industry, we need to be okay with that.

But there are people who are willing to share. You can find them engaged with brands that offer a distinct value proposition in exchange for information — or in audience panel communities where they are rewarded for sharing. The key ingredients in both instances are value, trust and permission. Regardless of category, all brands should embrace this new recipe for success.

Brands can already get the data they need at all levels of their business (including when and where to deliver ads) without taking away control over data from their audience. And when brands can glean direct insights from their audience, the result is a more authentic outcome.

Today, modern audience panels can pair opinion and behavioral insights — a combination that will prove more effective at understanding the consumer journey than third-party cookies ever were. When consumers have trust and share information willingly — also called zero-party data — it improves the quality of the insights you cultivate.

Whether you are Nike or Philly Cream Cheese, now is the time to explore ethical and fully-permissioned alternatives for cross-platform measurement. Few brands, if any, will be able to do this on their own.

Follow DISQO (@DISQO) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.

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