The future of advertising & how you can pivot without cookies (not just as a publisher)

The future is cookieless, and that’s an inevitable fact. There were nearly 500 people that found this topic crazy relevant right now that they wanted to hear it live on this webinar. But whether it becomes an advertising hellscape or a paradise depends on how marketers face this truth and pivot their operations. But what factors can marketers expect to contend with, and how will consumers react to this development?

Also, if you need to brush up on the fundamentals of this cookie thing, here are some of our articles that could help:

As I was saying, I was part of an eminent panel that discussed the future of advertising and business in the post-cookie world. Hosted by Gavin Floyd, Head of Consultancy at Breathe APAC, the panel also included personalities from across the industry such as Devendra Shivhare – Head of Engineering at SPH, John Thankamony – Client Partner at Dentsu, and Rica Raubenheimer – Digital Product Manager at South China Morning Post.

The Consumer POV

The session kicked off with Gavin asking panellists to roleplay as the consumer – how much data would they be willing to share with advertisers, and why?

Devendra answered that he would be willing to share only very basic information if he had something to gain from it. Other panellists agreed that they too would be willing to share data only to enjoy value in the form of personalisation.

I chimed in that I would be willing to share more information with a brand in return for a better customer experience, but not so willing to share with a publisher or advertiser as data could be sold and resold without his knowledge.

The next question that Rica & Pavel took on was – Did consumers understand just what they were saying ‘okay’ to when agreeing to share their data?

Rica said that consumers do have a greater understanding given that news about data privacy is a huge conversation today. But further clarity in helping the users better understand the value-exchange would help the industry move forward as a whole. I answered that common users experienced fatigue in browsing through T&Cs, and changing conditions would force this ecosystem to change. I shared an example of how more people are now aware of how apps on mobile track locations, and how it was forced to become permission-based.

Marketers and their relationship with first-party data

The second round of the webinar started off with a highlight question – how much first-party data do marketers have, if at all, in today’s world? And how were they using it?

John stated that first-party data for marketers was necessary for more than just targeting but for analytics, measurement as well as to power through the death of the 3rd party cookie. He added that the ‘walled-gardens’ of Apple, Google & Amazon had been driving their own solutions. He also spoke about advertisers now working to collect first-party data with their own value systems.

I agreed that the walled-gardens themselves were a good argument that businesses should look into establishing their own caches of first-party data of their customers. I also countered that marketers, however, had a lack of education about first-party data – they didn’t know how to use it if they didn’t know the value of what they owned.

I added that two value points that marketers needed to realise were firstly how consumers behave differently at different touchpoints which highlighted the need for marketers to build a single customer view. And secondly, how brands activate their data across omnichannel marketing. With more and more touchpoints, was first-party data just being kept in silos or effectively used across touchpoints? The other panellists too agreed that brands and publishers needed to reduce dependencies on the walled gardens and begin collecting and utilizing their own first-party data.

The panel then took a question from the audience – Given the retirement of 3rd party cookies, would DMPs lose out to CDPs?

John was the first to answer that advertisers needed to take stock of their data – where it was coming from, how it was being collected. He agreed that DMPs would indeed lose out due to the death of 3rd party data, and CDPs were more relevant today.

I then shared some insight from my perspective that DMPs tried to compete with CDPs, but it was a difficult sell as DMPs focus on storing anonymized information. Which was needed for a very different use-case and definitely not for brands in managing their first-party audiences. With the termination of 3rd party cookies and Apple leaving out IDFAs, DMPs were sure to be outdated and substituted by CDPs that are capable of more such as data cleansing, building identity graphs.

Two pieces of advice for every marketer

Rica started off with encouraging marketers to embrace their first-party data – taking advantage of datasets to better understand the core audience and partners to work with, and also to demand transparency in understanding how business partners utilize their first-party data – what’s in their pipeline and how that would affect your business’ future.

I then took over and stressed the need for marketers to have a sound data strategy centred around first-party data, that was relevant and up-to-date in the post-cookie world.
And secondly, the importance of brands to invest in their own attribution and analytical capability, and not leaving it to the walled gardens to decide how effective their advertising was.
Devendra spoke about the ‘new normal’ and that marketers must have an effective digital strategy that encompassed personalized marketing to replace 1-on-1 interactions, in addition to building relationships to stay connected.

John concluded this segment with the advice for business’ and their teams to get a deep understanding of the changes in cookies and data-privacy acts to keep ahead of the platform and advertising changes and maximise ROI. As well as, to start planning interactions between your business and every one of your partners from platforms to publishers – To streamline data and partners and maximise utilisation of first-party data.

The final round – A look to the future

I posed a question to Rica & Dev – what would the relationship between advertisers & publishers look like in the future? Rica answered that SCMP were ready as the cookie-apocalypse began to move forward with first-party data ready solutions for their partners, and moving to enhance their own platform to allow partners to track their users down the funnel. She also reiterated that publishers would need to invest in resources to undertake building comprehensive measurement tools for advertisers.

Devendra agreed that every publisher would need to move from DMP data collection to first-party data collection and as such would need to have the technology to enable and enrich this possibility. In addition to not just using first-party data not just for advertisers, but to use data to enhance internal efficiencies to bring value back to advertisers. As well as how publishers could tie into omnichannel marketing for advertisers.

I countered their answers, by donning the role of a small marketer and asking about how scalable and affordable delivering the same amount of value could be for publishers in the new age?

Rica replied that cost would be efficient due to more direct relationships without unnecessary intermediaries, as well as bringing effective reporting under one platform.

The penultimate question to the panel was – what would future strategies for those working in the affiliate marketing space? I took that on, answering that the need of the hour would be attribution, mirroring the solutions on the advertising space.

Browser Fingerprinting – A Bonus Question

With only a few minutes to spare, the final question asked if the panel had any opinions about browser fingerprinting – recognizing individual users based on their add-ons, font, screens, etc?

John answered that browser fingerprinting wouldn’t really fit within current data privacy regulations. That even though it may exist, it would surely not remain relevant in the future.

I added that from the consumer perspective, browser fingerprinting sounded very suspect, and would be irrelevant as it was still a 3rd party solution. I suggested that a better practice would be native tracking, collection of data that would not go out of the domain or be blocked by privacy browsers – and most importantly, was within ethical & legal frameworks.

Conclusion

Gavin wrapped up with a summary for marketers – stressing the need for a first-party data strategy for marketers and publishers alike, as well as taking care to select the right tech partners that would enable and strengthen their strategy.

Coming soon!

Due to a lack of time, the panel was unable to take on further questions from the 150-plus strong audience. But worry not… We’re going to answer the best of your questions in an upcoming blog post soon!

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Pavel Bulowski

CMO | Co-Founder Pavel stands behind all the smooth operations and business growth. You would run into him in the queue at airports rather than in one place. Besides that, he enjoys chess, boxing, and history.
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