Talking Programmatic with Zeotap

Alex McIlvenny, UK country manager at Zeotap, sits down with Mobile Marketing to discuss privacy and data

Mobile Marketing: What are the biggest trends you see in the market at the moment?
Alex McIlvenny: There are lots. There are a lot of brands post-GDPR, and with the new California Consumer Protection Act coming in soon, now overtly aware of data, what it means, and what the consent mechanisms need to be. But the main thing that they’re looking at is how they can protect their data, but also how they can use it. So, if we split that into two perspectives, a lot of brands – particularly direct to consumer entities, so the likes of banks, insurance companies – are really wanting to make sure that they can understand more about retention, so helping to drive their propensity models. A lot of other brands are really wanting to understand how that first-party data can be utilised for eCommerce, for website traffic, how they can use that for upselling and cross-selling opportunities, how they can utilise their DMPs or their CDPs in a much more accurate manner – particularly as they’ve invested a lot of time, effort, and resources in it.

If we flip it, from a publisher perspective, they’re the ones that have a lot of cookie-based data but a lot of them also have a lot of the login data and a lot of loyal customers from a newsletter perspective. For them, understanding more about their users, where they’re spending their time, what their wider attributes are, so they can utilise that information to really drive engagement and retention with their users and also make sure that any customisable website context that they’re going to be pushing is as relevant as possible for them.

If we were to take a final jump with agencies, a lot of them are really keen to make sure that their campaigns are reaching the right audience, so data is extremely important for them to utilise as best as possible. But, also, more-and-more as they’re moving into these consultancy-led roles, there are getting more involved with brands on first- and second-party data and really starting to understand the ecosystem as to where DMPs are getting in and how that data can be utilised from an agency perspective – be it for targeting, be it analytics and business intelligence, or be it just activation.

MM: Taking into account those trends, what is the ad tech space looking like for 2020?
AM: Next year, for some people, is looking quite scary. We’ve seen in the press this year that the cookie is dying and it’s no longer a currency to be able to understand what people are doing online. A big trend we’re likely to see is adoption of more universal identity graphs. I think there will be a lot more alliances between publishers that have some sort of conformances as to the way they’re addressing data. Publishers that have a lot of first-party data will be utilising that within DMP environments. We’re seeing the likes of Lotame and Permutive really driving maximum value for that as well. We’ll likely see Google coming up with other identity strategies themselves. Potentially, even Apple. Obviously, a lot of their engineering work happens behind closed doors, but I imagine there are a lot of exciting things on the horizon there as well.

A key thing, when looking at that first-party data, is ensuring that publishers still have addressable audiences, making sure that within the programmatic ecosystem people are buying the right inventory at the right price.

From a marketer’s perspective, I imagine we’ll see more data scientists and more technology-led teams being involved with marketing executions, particularly when it comes to privacy compliance because of the level of consent that is now required for sharing first-party data and I imagine there will be a lot of ongoing conversations about legal, ethical use of the first-party data and the iterations it can be used in as well. So, from an advertising perspective, there will be more people getting involved in marketing. Those brands will be investing more heavily as well in a lot of their DMP infrastructure and making the most of the data they can share on that. And agencies will be forced to adapt and use a data-first approach to what they’re doing, just given that a lot of their data lakes can still be quite cookie-centric. But a lot of them are picking up quite quickly and acquiring data businesses as we’ve seen from the likes of IPG, Publicis, Dentsu with all the brands they’ve invested in.

A final point on that is connected TVs and how that, from a data perspective, is going to be integrated within the ecosystem. To be able to create linkage to data graphs is absolutely going to be a key thing for people to discuss next year.

MM: You’ve touched on the idea of the cookie-less web. What does that mean for advertisers and what can they do about it?
AM: We know that cookie data is becoming less and less. The data that we can store against each one of those cookies, in terms of where people are going, upstream or downstream, is becoming extremely limited. So, a lot of publishers – especially those with first-party data – are in quite a good position because they’ll be able to utilise that linked to DMPs or other third-party identity graphs to create an addressable audience from a first-party perspective.

Those that don’t have as much reliability from cookies – those that still get a lot of upstream or downstream traffic from Facebook, for example –there’s a big opportunity for them, but a key thing is really addressing where that data is stored and how they’re collecting consent. So, publishers that are still very reliant on cookies will be addressing much more detailed consent mechanisms, where we’ll not only be looking at acceptable cookies, we’ll actually be going line-by-line of different use cases, of different data partners that may be tracking or utilising information on particular web pages and making sure the explicit consent is there. I also think you’ll see a lot of those publishers working much more closely with DMPs to ensure that they have a first-party data strategy to make sure they aren’t losing their addressable audience.

MM: You’ve also mentioned privacy concerns. Are there growing privacy concerns for brands? And what can brands do about it?
AM: Consumers are much savvier now when it comes to their data footprint and what value it holds, particularly when it comes to tracking people through an entire product lifecycle or user journey, regardless where that information comes from – whether it’s consented or not. There’s definitely a lot more users that are more inclined now to really want to understand about what digital footprint they’re leaving. Where brands should be concerned, it’s those that don’t have those direct-to-consumer relationships. So, the bigger brands that rely on eCommerce stores or wider retail stores to be able to sell their products. I think it’s really key for them to make sure they’re addressing things now – and, by ‘now’, I mean by the end of Q1 – and really making sure that their levels of consent is either addressed by reconsent or the renewed customer acquisition etc., that they’re using every opportunity that’s handed to them to collect that data as well.

Brands, themselves, are in a better position than some others. Those that own the relationship with the customers are fine – they have that data, they would’ve already invested a lot in DMPs and CDPs. For those that don’t necessarily have a lot of first-party data and really rely on second- and third-party, they need to be working hard with their privacy teams, their legal teams, their ethical teams. Particularly with the ICO hanging over our heads with decision making, they really need to make sure that they’re watertight with the legal teams, with the ethical teams, to make sure any data they are using has the full consent, not just through legitimate interest but through individual line items that the consumer has permitted them to use.

MM: We’ve spoken a lot about first-party data. What is the importance of having first-party data strategies?
AM: First-party consented data is really important to anyone in the ecosystem – be it for us, be it for our competitors, be it for publishers or brands. Those that have the ability to ascertain consent directly have a lot more future-proofing potential because you can utilise emails, phone numbers, generally more persistent identifiers to understand more about those customers as well. Those that are working hard now to build out their first-party databases are those that are going to win short-, mid-, and long-term off the back of that. So, it’s super important they have that because it simply allows them to have a much easier way to talk to their customers but also understand what they’re doing as well.

MM: Are there any examples of this?
AM: If we were to look at a big bank we’re working with – unfortunately, we can’t name them – they had quite an ongoing problem with retention. We’re constantly bombarded as consumers with zero per cent offers or ‘move your bank account here and we’ll reward you for that’. This particular bank came to us to really address retention and to make sure they were increasing the value of their customers, but also increasing the numbers of customers that they have.

What we were able to do in that particular instance was onboard their first-party data. We were able to append attributes to that, so we could look at patterns in terms of basic demographic statistics. We were able to append behavioural segments based on what apps customers were using, what websites they were frequenting, what their purchasing intents were. In turn, they were able to feed that data into their propensity models to be able to understand who their customers were, where they were spending their time, what their triggers were, what their online behaviour was. And, within their matrixes of the low churn customers of the highest value to them, we were able to feed directly into analytics metrics and help them improve retention rate by up to 15 per cent. One they’re not losing customers and, two, they’re making sure they can make more money out of those customers as well. It  also means they can understand more about that data so they can align better for acquisition strategies moving forward because they know much more about their customers and who they are, so it will provide much greater efficiency in their media buying and hopefully less wastage and driving down the performance costs of that as well.”

MM: Thanks Alex, any final thoughts?
AM: For marketers, make sure you’re really closely aligned with your tech teams and your legal teams to understand all the permissible uses for your first-, second-, and third-party data in any instance.

From a publisher perspective, it’s really key they invest in infrastructure now to be able to ascertain as much first-party data as possible. Or utilise a technology that can provide them with assistance in knowing more about their customers to be able to then create linkage across the digital ecosystem.

And, for agencies, it’s really about making sure that everything you’re pushing forward – particularly in media planning and activation – has a data-led or audience-first strategy to make that the media buying is efficient as possible, especially as we’re now moving into a much more transparent world and will continue to do so. Having everything as data-first is really key but making sure that the legals, the consents, the privacy, and the ethics are all addressed before you’re utilising that data.

Zeotap was one of the sponsors at our recent Programmatic Lunch event. It is the world’s first identity resolution and data provider. With a presence in 16 global markets, it helps brands to understand more about their first-party data to drive better analytics, better customer understanding, to drive better return on investment from people-based marketing.