"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 Jamie Seltzer, global managing director, mar tech and data strategy, at Havas Media Group.
Cookies allow advertisers to know how their ads are performing and, more importantly, where to invest their ad spend.
But with Google’s announcement that it would withdraw support for third-party cookies in two years, agencies will be forced to reinvent themselves. With advances in digital advertising, agencies got lost in conversations around data and tech and forgot to focus on media itself. The path forward is not simply in first-party data, but in a refocusing on the brand and the media experience of the consumer.
Without a cookie to help direct ads to individuals, the placement of the ad (context) and the message of the brand (content) will be that much more important, and the overall media experience for the consumer will be what differentiates one brand from the next in a post-cookie world.
The concept of the media experience should be the cornerstone of a media agency. From people to platforms, from products to pitches, agencies must reinvent themselves and deliver on this promise to go beyond a media plan and develop a positive media experience for clients.
What does this look like? Well, with a third-party cookie, an airline would “know” that I just researched a trip to Florida and follow me around the internet with promotional ads no matter where I browse.
Alternatively, a good media experience means the airline showcases its destinations and amenities long before I’m in market, helping to build its brand, and then when I begin researching, it leverages my previous engagement to show me relevant creative while I’m browsing destinations in TripAdvisor or Instagram. Then, you can measure not only against delivery of the message and whether or not I booked the trip, but you can also measure the efficacy of the brand itself to ensure that the consumer connections being created are strong enough to ultimately deliver sales.
That’s not to say that the use of data as a whole is diminishing in importance or going away; we just need to think differently about how we use it. We’ve become so dependent on data and algorithms to drive our decisions that we’ve forgotten about the consumer experience.
Many have been talking about the death of the cookie for years, and some, including MediaMath, LiveRamp, Zeotap and others, have actively been preparing for it. The industry has been making all sorts of predictions about what might come next, but few are really focusing on what we do in the interim.
We should be setting a learning agenda and using this time to test. That includes testing strategies for building up first-party data sets and testing targeting cohorts instead of individuals. We must also test measurement techniques such as incrementality and measuring the true long-term value of tactics vs. short-term delivery goals.
Let’s learn as much as we possibly can in the next 18 months so that when a solution or solutions do emerge, the industry has a head start on what works for advertisers and drives the most impactful media experiences for customers.