"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 Diane Perlman, CMO of Blis.
The digital advertising industry is locked in the fight of its life right now.
The combination of international privacy regulations, such as GDPR, CCPA and LGPD in Brazil, as well as new privacy mandates from the tech giants, have put the most popular methods of targeting and digital ad tracking under attack.
Browsers, including Safari and Firefox, have already blocked the use of third-party cookies, but rather than be proactive to find new solutions, some marketers have stuck their heads in the sand and ignored the scale of the challenge they’re facing.
Others are devoting their energy to looking for new ways to achieve the same granular tracking and targeting of individual consumers as they had before. Ultimately, what these developments mean is that the sort of granular measurement and attribution that CMOs have become accustomed to may no longer be possible.
Instead, they should recognize that new privacy laws and restrictions are intended to transform our industry into a better, more transparent ecosystem. As an industry, we need to embrace the opportunity to use privacy-compliant, anonymized consumer data sets and find more respectful ways to engage target audiences.
In the battle for privacy-first marketing, here are the three rounds brands will need to win.
Round 1: Consumer privacy vs. personalization
It might sound obvious, but one thing brands will need to accept is that while some individual consumers might be happy to share their personal data in exchange for personalized marketing in line with their preferences, others will resist.
And no one likes clumsy attempts to harvest their personal information. Getting it wrong at this stage could ruin the brand experience of potentially valuable customers.
With different consumers moving at different speeds up and down your brand’s “trust funnel,” it’s vital you broaden the scope of your marketing strategy and have alternative ways to reach target audiences that don’t depend on the use of personal data at all.
In the end, your customers will help you find the right balance between consumer privacy and personalized marketing. The role of the marketer is now to cater to the variety of responses your target customers will likely provide.
Round 2: Personalization vs. data
Another thing marketers need to think about is what they mean when they say “personalization.”
Do you really need to know a customer’s personal details to serve an ad that is relevant and engaging to them? For example, many consumers might find an ad that features their name a bit creepy, but they may consider an ad that includes the name of their hometown or favorite sports team to be intriguing and relevant.
It's crucial for brands and media planners to understand the types of data they actually need – or don't need – to deliver a relevant experience. Let’s not forget, inaccurate targeting from fragmented, low-quality, out-of-date cookies has cost advertisers millions of dollars.
Overdependence on third-party cookies and digital IDs has also allowed too many players to insert themselves between publishers and brands, further diluting the quality of the data on offer.
Round 3: Privacy vs. attribution
Measurement and attribution are the most critical areas we need to address. Measurement helps brands understand their customers, while attribution enables them to see how their advertising influences the customer journey.
With or without cookies, marketers will still want to understand the impact their advertising has on the metrics that move their business.
And there are alternative methods. On the measurement front, for example, there could be an increased role for location-based, regional campaigns. Not so long ago, it was common for national TV campaigns to run with certain control regions blanked out for measurement purposes. Brand performance was measured in regions where a campaign ran versus regions where it did not, all without the use of any personal data.
Fast-forward to today, and the emergence of modern machine learning and big data techniques means regional or audience control groups can be better automated and more nuanced than ever before.
Overall, marketers will need to take a more comprehensive and holistic approach to measurement and attribution. With the vast amount of anonymized data sources available, marketers should be able to isolate and explore the mechanisms between different variables to find the real cause for a specific trend. This is a crucial piece of the attribution puzzle that can stop marketers from making poor decisions.
Fight the good fight
If your marketing team’s attention is focused on finding a direct replacement for third-party cookies and digital IDs, you are fighting the wrong battle.
My advice is to think through the three issues outlined above and carefully consider how they relate to your brand and your customers.
It’s time to design marketing and advertising campaigns informed and enhanced by the anonymized, privacy-compliant data that will remain accessible even after the next round of targeting and tracking restrictions.