Today, it’s apparent that consumers and governments won’t tolerate the tracking technologies and strategies that were once standard digital media industry practices. Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and California’s Prop 24 introduce constraints on third-party identifiers, which hinder the ability to resolve customer and prospect identity in programmatic advertising. Further, changes to iOS and other mobile operating systems are likely to limit data tracking and profiling. However, brands still want to create meaningful consumer experiences, and consumers still want meaningful, relevant brand experiences.
By: Josh Perlstein
Here are four strategies brands can invest in to create better connections in a cookieless future:
Create worthwhile consumer connections and experiences
There is a lot of confusion and consternation at eliminating third-party identifiers across desktop and mobile. Many brands are looking for answers given all the noise and should refocus their efforts to create consumer connections and experiences that people actually consider worthwhile.
The foundational approach to building relationships with audiences hasn’t changed. One easy way to look at the challenge is through patterns you can spot if you think about marketing in terms of the customer journey. Being more relevant with an audience, prospect, or customer means that you deliver messages that resonate with whoever sees that message. The message should be in the right channel where they’re receptive to it, whether that’s a paid ad, on social, through email, or on their mobile phone. By really thinking through journeys, doing your research, and mapping those journeys to the audience segments, you can pull in the right tech to deliver on that.
The missing piece that has become and will continue to become more critical is how to link those journeys to an individual. We need first-party data to do that. When cookie targeting and measurement go away, brands must be more intelligent about feeding the funnel with first-party data.
Prioritize first-party data
Brands need to invest in scaling first-party data collection and practices. When you own the data, it adds value across dimensions and offers a significant advantage to understand what an individual wants, how they behave, and how to communicate with them in a relevant and valuable manner.
Scale means different things to different people. For instance, CPG brands may say it takes millions of consumers to make an impact. Other types of entities such as a financial firm may only need a few hundred people to have a similar effect. In any case, if first-party data is acquired at the correct scale, it’ll move the needle on sales. All this is to say it benefits brands to invest in obtaining first-party data.
Invest in strategic acquisition tactics and behaviors
It is critical for brands to create opportunities to connect with consumers on their own properties. This may include opportunities for somebody to raise their hand, sign up, make a donation, or anything in between. Different verticals call it different things: acquisition, first-party data registration, lead gen. Regardless of the name, those opportunities are significant and need to be looked at through an “acquisition everywhere” lens, which gives brands options to connect with the right consumers across a spectrum of touchpoints. Three main questions to follow and answer:
- How do we collect the first-party data and content we want to market at the scale we want to achieve?
- How do we position all our owned, paid, and shared assets to enable marketing at scale and do it efficiently?
- How do we bring the right partners and platforms on board to manage all of that data interchange in a secure, reliable, and expedient way?
Commit to a long-term versus a short-term mindset
A long-term commitment is required to bring relevancy and value between a brand and its audience. It also evolves over time. It’s not a set it and forget it, although there are components that can be set. If someone comes to your website for content, your next opportunity should build on that, whether that be in an email, a text message, or a social ad. Everything must be relevant and personalized, but it should evolve from there, too. Today, technology and platforms allow us to do this on a micro personalized basis, at scale. Now we are able to build individual journeys that are genuinely behavior-based. And typically, the personalized approach with behavioral-based react and respond methodology comes out on top just about every time over short-term, one-and-done strategic initiatives.
Even with the cookieless future ahead of us, it does not mean that relationships between brands and their customers need to suffer. In fact, it's a unique opportunity to consider our current definition of meaningful connections and reevaluate if we are actually building the types of relationships that are best and the most beneficial for both parties. We may find that this new, cookieless future is exactly what we need in order to discover and create the next level of relevant brand experiences.
Josh Perlstein is CEO of Response Media. He manages a Digital and Direct Agency specializing in building valuable, meaningful relationships between brands and consumers at scale.