Richard Nicolson, head of marketplace development EMEA at Index Exchange, discusses the importance of people-based marketing as we transition to a cookie-less world
Digital advertising — particularly in mobile — has reached a crossroads. Over the last few years, cracks have started to form in the foundation of our industry’s business model, with data privacy regulations becoming increasingly tighter, third-party cookies less effective, and omnichannel strategies more imperative.
But, what brought us to this point? And where do we go from here? In order to properly answer these questions, we have to look back before turning ahead…
Historically, much of digital advertising has been built on cookies. Since the birth of programmatic, we’ve used them to identify what a user has been browsing and which ads might resonate with them. Cookies are far from a perfect tool, but they allowed buyers to reach key audiences and, to a degree, measure the effectiveness of digital ad campaigns; or so we thought. In reality, third-party cookies often paint warped and inconsistent pictures.
As a quick example, cookies might tell us that because a user has purchased yarn and watched a dog video, they must be interested in ads for hand-knit dog sweaters. The ads are fun, sure, but they feel aggressive to consumers — they’re out of place and fundamentally incorrect.
Beyond consumer’s concerns, third-party cookie data is also brittle, fast-expiring, and often fruitless outside of desktop environments. In sum, cookies are an ineffective tool in an omnichannel, consumer-focused world. As a result, digital marketing is now going through a phase of much-needed disruption, and this is where the opportunity lies.
The shift to a cookie-less world
Where is our industry headed, and what does this opportunity look like for marketers? Both are ripe questions, particularly for marketers working in mobile environments.
To start, it’s important to ensure the consumer is placed at the centre of your strategy; regardless of what that strategy entails. Too often, marketers and their tech partners have built strategies that are hyper-focused on immediate business results, tailoring them to users’ interests and needs as a second step. Like cookies, this approach worked in the short term, but it’s not conducive to long-term growth or success.
Moving forward, actors in the digital advertising space need to invest in solutions that prioritise consumers’ trust and concerns; solutions that are based on people.
For those unfamiliar today, people-based marketing is based on first-party data, but this data is rarely collected by publishers with user consent.
More specifically, people-based marketing utilises CRM data to build anonymous user profiles. Such solutions allow marketers to reach users with greater efficacy and efficiency, regardless of their device or environment — all while ensuring the consumer has full control over the data and information they’re sharing.
Until recently, the only players who could successfully execute against people-based marketing strategies were the walled gardens. But as independent tech vendors, premium publishers, and buyers continue to build and support Identity solutions in the open web — marketers will gain greater choice and access to key consumers.
Put simply, people-based marketing will allow today’s marketers — mobile or otherwise — to mimic the buying strategies used in the ‘walled gardens’ across the open web: Boosting buying opportunities while also boosting publishers’ revenue. Not only will this allow premium, trusted publishers to thrive, it will also allow buyers to reach their audiences more often, more succinctly, and across more environments and devices.
Ultimately, these strategies are allowing today’s buyers to both prioritise and reach the consumer more powerfully than ever before — adapting to the user’s tastes, concerns, and device type. People-based marketing places consumer trust front and centre without limiting the marketer’s opportunity, granting every member of the digital advertising ecosystem a smoother (and more effective) experience. And it is our responsibility, as tech partners and marketers, to continue championing people-based solutions in a cookie-less world.