Ad Tech and Privacy

Expert Roundup: The New Data Arms Race

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A new privacy era is changing the rules of data-driven business. Below, leaders in digital marketing expound on those changes and on what the future of business, especially in digital advertising, will look like.

You can see the full slate below, following recent roundups on the evolving state of data collection and consumer privacy (see last week’s installment here).

Street Fight’s August Theme: Doubling Down on Data

Neil Sweeney, Founder and CEO, Killi, on the Privacy Era’s First Inning

The future of data-driven businesses is quickly evolving. That’s not only because of the laws that are quickly passing but also because consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their lack of access to their own online property: their data.

The changes in Apple’s tracking — and Android cutting off access to consumer data for users who opt out of tracking — are only the beginning of a massive shift in data-driven businesses. Consumers should understand the tech giants’ privacy changes as a major opportunity to shift the status quo. Advertisers should see these changes as a seismic shift and an opportunity to evolve how they use and acquire data.

The future of the data-driven economy is not individual platforms giving consumers the ability to turn off tracking. It is comprehensive access to a consumer’s digital profile and the ability for the consumer to signal to businesses precisely what information is fair game and how they may use it. For businesses, recognizing that a new era of consent-driven business is beginning is just the first step. The next one is to get smart and honest about where the data that fuels your business is coming from and whether it was obtained with the consumer’s full knowledge and consent.

The winners that lead this data-driven business will be companies that invest in solutions that treat consumer consent as a first priority. There is no future-proofed data-driven business model without a truly consent-first identity solution.

Google and Apple are making it increasingly impossible to collect non-consensual data, governments will eventually make it illegal, and the changes by both big tech and legislators are strengthening public understanding. The result: Consumers will no longer accept the status quo.

Eddie Dingels, COO, GroundTruth, on Intent & Independence

Data accountability is more important than ever.

For marketers that want to leverage location-based data, the difference between accurately identifying a consumer in one location versus a neighboring business is critical to generating the best campaign results, making better decisions, and providing new ways of looking at efficacy versus performance. Therefore, it’s imperative that brands use data-driven solutions that have been tested by an independent third-party, whether that be for measuring foot traffic, powering performance-driven media campaigns, or reaching specific audiences.

As the ad tech industry continues to work within a new movement that is setting the foundation for the next evolution of mobile advertising, companies that put consumer choice and data quality first will be successful at building stronger, trusted relationships with customers and partners.

Blaine Britten, VP of Data Solutions, Stirista, on the New Benchmarks

In the past 2-3 years, there’s been tremendous focus and strides made in quality, accuracy, and efficacy of consumer data in marketing. Brands have become particularly adept at capturing data that enables them to accurately personalize and market to their customers’ interests. This could be a mobile phone number that confirms a reservation via text or an email that signs them up for a loyalty program. But not all the important identifiers are often collected at the same time, leaving a gap in the ability to fully identify and engage with consumers.

Looking back, gathering fragmented data was acceptable for brands, as they could fill in those gaps with a data provider or another onboarder using cookies as the matching mechanism. As cookies become obsolete, and MAIDs not far behind, brands and their agency partners are now tasked with maintaining constant communication with their first-party data, ensuring it remains active, and then dumping or refreshing the inactive or inaccurate data. A large part of this communication requires a feedback loop to determine if a first-party consumer is active in their database, what those interactions look like, and specific consumer preferences. For example, some consumers may never respond to an email but redeem promotions via a text message.

Ultimately, the KPI for brands with effective first-party data is conversions or increased traffic. Having the right data to enable ongoing inventory, measurement, and attribution of those interactions, and determining if they were positive or negative is the next benchmark for data-driven marketing.

Eric T. Gastevich, Director of Strategic Partnerships, Infutor, on an Era of Change

The past 12-18 months have dramatically changed American’s routines, commutes, and lifestyles. They have new jobs and incomes with limited or no commutes. There’s also more domestic travel, crazy real estate moves, and Covid babies. Meanwhile, carry out and store pick-ups all at new hours and frequencies.

In fact, new stats reveal that an average brand’s CRM data decayed at a rate of 37% over that period as consumers made all those changes (up from 30% pre-pandemic). Unfortunately, many marketers are currently unable to leverage data that reflect these drastic shifts in behavior because of the challenges linking their online and offline data. This is causing them to miss meaningful life changes in their target consumers.

So how does a marketer combat this staggering rate of data decay that erodes conversion rates, particularly when it seems harder than ever to link offline and online data due to big changes in cookies, mobile ad IDs, and even email identification?

The answer is that marketers looking to help deliver a positive customer experience and drive up conversion rates need to ensure they understand their current customer profile by linking both offline and online consumer data and enriching it with accurate demographics. Success with data today requires embracing the constantly changing environment and ensuring the right online and offline data sources are in place to update, enhance, and enrich your first-party data feeds.

Dennis Becker, CEO, Mobivity, on the Digital Audience Arms Race

The biggest forces defining today’s marketing landscape include pandemic-influenced changes on more digitally-focused consumer behavior, and consumer data privacy pressures from Google, Apple, and legislative groups. These dual market forces driving digital marketing programs today are combining to create a digital audience arms race for brick-and-mortar brands.

At the center of the race is first-party data – something brick and mortar brands often lack but need now more than ever. The brands that beef up their digital audiences will win.

The greatest opportunity is for QSR and retail brands to leverage digital interactions to harness more data about the customer while building one-to-one, owned media channels they can use to stay top of mind with consumers. This is an equal-opportunity effort that includes, email, loyalty, app, and text.

While tempting to use the channel that marketers prefer, they can’t afford to force any channel on users, and there’s no room to leave any channel behind. Sure, each channel has its own strengths but never has the media mix been more important to optimize, manage, and leverage first-party data. Plus, numerous studies prove that when used in combination, the results are more impactful than alone.

And while Google has put a brief stay on the death of the third-party cookie, 95% of iOS users have already opted out of third-party cross app tracking. Marketers can’t wait to launch programs that will capture consumers’ limited capacity for engagement. Let’s face it, there are only so many branded apps that a person will use and they simply won’t opt into dozens of retailers’ and QSRs’ SMS programs. So getting to these consumers first to have them opt in to your text program is critical to engaging those that already demonstrate brand loyalty, and is your edge to winning the digital audience arms race.

Stay tuned for the next installment, when we’ll spotlight a fresh batch of voices and a new editorial theme in September…