David Morris, solutions consulting director EMEA at Tealium, says that cookies still have their crunch, but tag management gives you a bigger piece of the pie.
Using cookies to track, measure and personalise online behaviour is not the issue; the challenge arises when the data collected is not mapped to the rest of the customer journey, resulting in redundant marketing efforts. In some instances – for example, the affiliate and display marketing channels – the industry can be too reliant on cookies, often failing to consider the customer journey as a whole and missing key opportunities.
As for Tealium, we are proud of our heritage in tag management and recognise that tag- or cookie-based tracking should be incorporated into a wider strategy to measure and engage with real-world audience interactions. With this in mind, cookie-based tracking is now just one of many ways in which Tealium enables customers to collect, enrich and act on data.
It’s time to get mobile
Using cookies on traditional channels like desktop can and will continue to be useful, just ask one of the 1,000 vendors with integrations into Tealium IQ, our tag management system. However, when it comes to mobile – particularly in-app – cookies shouldn’t be the sole method for gathering and analysing data.
As mobile continues to infiltrate every aspect of our lives, marketers should stop thinking of it as just another device to track. In this app-driven world, mobiles are increasingly used to wake us up; to help us zone out during the commute; to control the lighting, temperature and security of our homes; to order any product or service we need; to take notes during a presentation; and to board a flight. Laws have even been created in response to changing consumer behaviour on mobile, making it illegal to use devices while driving. Let’s face it, consumers are completely hooked on their mobiles – in fact, it’s estimated that the average UK adult spent almost two hours a day on their smartphone in 2017.
The very personal nature of mobile presents a strong opportunity for marketers to identify the individual, not just specific device-based activity. By labelling mobile as a separate channel, marketers are significantly constraining the opportunity it affords – mapping the customer journey to build the desired 360-degree consumer view.
Think about it: how far away from you is your mobile right now? Are you by any chance reading this article on your mobile, or is it close by as you read this on a PC or in print? Because mobiles are so physically close to us at all times, they offer a direct reference point to our location, in turn providing greater insight into what we’re doing. For example, whether we’re drinking coffee, shopping, travelling or attending a sporting event, our mobile is almost guaranteed to be our handy sidekick.
With this behaviour typical to the majority of consumers across the globe, it is far from surprising that key players in the data collection sector are leveraging mobile to provide location-based insights. These include personal assistant capabilities between location and calendar, location-contextual searching, fitness apps, payment apps, and the all-important social media check-ins.
Context-based interest vs location-based data
The third-party cookie has traditionally been used to follow an internet user across websites to surmise their interest based on an overview of sites they visit. This creates an assumed understanding of context-based interest. By contrast, location-based data acquired via mobile offers the same context, but without having to wait for an active digital and active interaction. In short, the context moves from a pixel to a person. Instead of grouping together clicks, we can create a holistic image of customer journeys, ultimately providing additional insight into the consumer.
Our ‘always on’ nature with mobile offers access to data points such as time and location, providing context and distance from points of interest. For example, knowing the location of a user while mapping the surrounding businesses gives rise to contextual data such as:
• The fact that the person is spending time in a location where a car showroom exists
• Repeated visits to a particular location – demonstrating habit
• Visits to a rare location – highlighting niche and highly targeted audiences.
So what’s next – turn off all cookie-based tracking and only leverage mobile location data? Definitely not. Cookies still have an important role to play in measuring consumer browsing behaviours and personalising the experience on desktop computers, which is particularly handy for anonymous visitors. The trick is to stop using cookies as the sole or primary method of tracking customer behaviour. Mobile, with its location-based context and personal connection to the individual, should be a priority, while cookie-based tracking should support the desktop part of a journey.
Here are some key actions to take when using mobile first to track customers. First, ensure that activity on mobile is tracked accurately. Second, educate peers and management about wider opportunities to track and leverage location-based behaviour using mobile. Finally, transition marketing strategies to mobile first. When planning the next campaign or programme, think: how will this work on mobile? And how can we leverage mobile to expand our knowledge of customers’ activities using location?
If our ultimate objective is to place the customer at the heart of all communications, we need to get personal. The best way to do this is to gain enough insight to fully understand customers’ spending and recreational habits using location-based context. With this in mind, your top marketing priority in 2018 should be to mobilise mobile across all campaigns. So, what are you waiting for? The answer’s in your hand.