Preparing for the future of identity and addressability

Over the past few years, marketers have walked a tightrope between offering more personalised online experiences to their consumers and ensuring that the data collected is secure and privacy compliant. Colin Barnard writes about how to stay agile in a constantly evolving environment.

Marketers have been put to the test in the past year with one of the most disruptive changes to the industry – the demise of third-party cookies. From Google’s plans to phase out third-party cookies on Chrome to Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) iOS updates. Consumers have more control over privacy concerns and how their identity is tracked online. 

According to Criteo’s State of AdTech report the pandemic resulted in 60 percent of marketers reporting a drop in business revenue. They’re now looking for ways to rebuild. 

Despite Google extending its deadline for their end of support for third-party cookies to late 2023, many leading brands are still a long way from being able to adapt to the new technologies for addressability. A recent study revealed 81 percent of Australia’s top 100 websites still rely on third-party cookies. 

But what is the new approach to addressability? What alternative strategies can marketers use to reach audiences without third-party cookies? 

Time for Australia to rely on the right cookies

While Google wants to phase out third-party cookies on its browsers, marketers are still able to harness first-party data. This is useful information when users visit their sites. For starters, leveraging first-party data to learn about what a user did while visiting each marketers’ website. How often do they visit? These basic analytics can help guide the development of a personalised marketing strategy and engage new prospects. 

Firstly, user privacy-by-design methods to connect both online and offline data. From transaction data, to CRM, website tags, local inventories, store directories, onto media buying platforms.  While it may be a daunting task to take in-house, brands today have the option of deploying insight-driven tools. These make new identifiers available to marketers working with omnichannel advertising partners. This will enrich their first-party data collection and analyses impact and measurement.  

Educate consumers on the “Value Exchange”

The value exchange between consumers and a brand is fundamental to modern marketing. It’s the basic transaction of offering personal data for smoother and more personalised experiences. With 87 percent of Australians wanting more control and choice over the collection and use of data linked to their identity, there is a greater need for media owners to be transparent about the “value-exchange” process. This can happen by educating consumers about what they gain from ad-funded experiences. In turn they learn how digital advertising actually works. 

Recent Criteo data revealed 1-in-5 consumers are willing to share their identity with advertisers if it means they receive more relevant advertising. Over 40 percent of Americans opt-in to ad-funded experiences on iPhones. This is despite the “dark pattern” that uses smaller fonts to explain the benefits of Apple’s advertising identifier. However, as fewer identifiers were available apps within Apple’s app store have seen revenues decline by nearly half. In other words, if the value of sharing their information is explained, more will opt-in and share their data for personalised content. Investing in getting consumer buy-in will eventually pay off for publishers and brands who will benefit from rich consumer insights to repeatedly engage an active audience segment. 

Embrace zero-party data 

Once consumers are educated on the “value-exchange” from sharing first-party data, brands are on their way to earning their trust and confidence in sharing quality zero-party data. 

Coined by Forrester Research, “zero-party data” is data consumers intentionally share with a brand. It can include preference center data, purchase activity, registration data, survey responses, and other information associated with what information the individual wants an organisation to know and recognise about them. While first-party data is data that a brand collects, zero-party data is data that consumers share proactively. Techniques like polls, competitions and encouraging loyalty program sign-ups are particularly handy in collecting zero-party data.  

Driving commerce outcomes 

It’s all well and good to collect first-party and zero-party data, but how can brands effectively harness these resources in their campaigns?  

Criterio has been working on a new approach to digital advertising. It combines commerce data and intelligence to target consumers throughout their shopping journey. Through this, marketers, publishers and retailers activate their first-party data and inventory. This advertisers’ package will drive real business impact. 

Marketers should also drive effective ad frequency capping. This is essential to improving user experience. It also improves measurement of ad quality, brand safety and fraud. All of these improve advertising effectiveness. 

Walking the tightrope

Amid the evolving COVID-19 situation, marketers continue to face increasing pressure to deliver performance marketing campaigns that drive sales. From educating consumers on the value-exchange to leveraging commerce media to deliver campaign optimization informed by first-party data, marketers can lay the foundation for exemplary consumer engagements and retention as we proceed to the next evolution of responsible, addressable media. 

Colin Barnard is the managing director of Criteo ANZ.