Well, that date is now here. The loss of data cookies, and data deprecation more generally, is one of the biggest challenges digital marketing is facing. In a recent talk entitled ‘A Future without Identity’ by Permutive, Tina Moffett of Forrester, highlighted that we are facing the reduction of available data from third parties, walled gardens (such as Google and Facebook), adblockers, privacy laws and changes in user behaviours as well (e.g., clearing our browser history). This is on top of browsers and operating systems making changes like Apple ITP and Firefox ETP. With all of this uncertainty, we are left with a huge question around how we, as marketeers, will target our audience. Is behavioural advertising a lost avenue? Is contextual advertising the new king? What are we going to do? Should we fall back on probabilistic models? Models which may work but raise their own questions around privacy? Well, not necessarily.
What is the solution?
Forrester – along with Permutive – conducted a survey (Permutive Opportunity Snapshot)* to see how advertisers, brands and publishers are tackling the upcoming challenges. This survey produced some pretty interesting stats and ideas, for example that 40% of publishers have seen an opportunity to monetise their first party data. To do this effectively, they need to invest in updating their technology stack in order to support this shift. So, we could buy data directly from publishers. But there is a question here too. Do we trust this data? 36% of advertisers want to develop customer trust, and in order to do this, we need to build our trust in the publisher.
Trust is the key issue it seems when it comes to data. The target customer needs to trust in the brand, the advertiser needs to trust their agency, and we as an agency need to trust the publishers. To put this into perspective, and highlight why we need to focus on trust, Paul Coffey (Partnerships and Privacy, Google) stated that 80% of customers feel that the risks of sharing data far outweighed the benefits. Ratul Shah (Data Solutions, SAP) highlighted that it is actually the customer who is in charge of their user experience, so ultimately, we need to put them back in the driver’s seat. We should seek to understand who they are, and more importantly, how they want to be treated. And it all starts within agencies!
Mike Nuzzo from Hearst, a panellist at the ‘Future without Identity’ talk, said that agencies need to be open to those relationships. He is, of course, 100% right. For a seamless transition into this new world, we need to have open, honest discussions about the objectives and goals of our clients, and by extension, ourselves. Let’s not forget that some publishers have subscription models where their readers are paying for premium content.
Publishers such as Women’s Health and The Times employ these models, so we’re talking reputable publishers who will want their readers to have the best experience possible so that they remain with them.
Trace Rutland (from Ocean Spray) also joined the discussion from a brand perspective, and said that she highly values direct relationships with publishers. Having a face behind the name strengthens the trust that is clearly imperative going forward. One issue she did highlight is the complication around where first party data ownership will lie. The reality of this is sometimes more complex than initially laid out, however this is a great opportunity for brands to cement themselves once more as strategic partners to advertisers.
So, what does that mean for us?
Ultimately, it all comes down to trust and partnership. How do we start to build the relationships with publishers that will facilitate trust and access to compliant data? How can agencies and advertisers leverage their own first party data? And finally, how do we start weaning ourselves off unverified data. Though there may be an abundance of this, we can’t ensure its accuracy – potentially harming the efficiency and effectiveness of our campaigns.
We need to start building these key relationships now, rather than leaving it any longer. At Fox Agency, we’re going to start the conversations necessary to prepare us for a future without data cookies, right now. These conversations will be open and collaborative, coming from a place of curiosity as to how we can move our clients to a new best practice.
Transparency will build on trust from all sides and ultimately deliver us the campaigns that we have become so accustomed to. Yes, there will be teething issues but this change is inevitable, and we need to take control of the approach using the data that is compliant and available to us. The technology still needs amending to this new way of working and there are new players in the market who are equipped to deal with this new reality, but existing technology still needs to be updated or risks becoming obsolete.
Now is a great time to take a test and learn approach, so that we get into a good place before the cookie jar is empty. At Fox Agency, we believe the time is right now. Though January 2022 (the date third-party data and data cookies become null and void) may seem like a long way off, we are already a quarter of the way through 2021 and the time of reckoning will be upon us all before we know it. So, if you want to chat to us about how we are going to approach audience targeting in the future, why not get in touch?
*data completed Feb 2021