Ad Tech and Privacy

Designing a Data Collection Strategy That Improves Brand Safety

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In the past few years, major global events have changed how consumers interact with brands. The old rules no longer apply, and many marketers are scrambling, playing armchair psychologists in an attempt to understand their customers’ behaviors. 

It’s leaving a massive gap between expected brand experiences and actual brand experiences, which can threaten brand safety. Yet 45% of brands just started implementing brand safety solutions in the past year and 15% don’t use any solutions at all. 

As the consumer landscape shifts, it’s critical to dig deeper and get to know your customers and understand their changing preferences—not based on guesses or assumptions, but on clean, accurate first-party data that you collect and own. That begins with creating a solid, privacy-centric data collection strategy.

Getting More Strategic About Data Collection

Ensuring you have a clean data collection strategy and pristine data hygiene is more important than ever. It allows you to look at outside data from several sources to see trends, seasonality, patterns, or spikes, and then use your own data to determine the impact on your customers’ behaviors and, ultimately, your brand.

Creating a successful data collection strategy begins as any successful endeavor does: with goals. So first, you’ll need to establish and document goals and KPIs for your analytics program and hold stakeholder review sessions to gather feedback and cross-organization perspectives. As you discuss and evaluate the stakeholder input, make sure to focus on three key elements: consent, owned properties, and analysis and activation. 

Consent: Consider using a consent management platform to help you adhere to all the current—and future—privacy regulations and get to know your customers’ preferences directly from them. 

Owned properties: Recent and upcoming browser privacy changes that are phasing out third-party cookies have made first-party data—the data you collect directly from your consumers and own—the centerpiece of your future marketing efforts. That includes what you gather from your CRM platform, website, email campaigns, business intelligence, and more. Ensure you’re accounting for your data from all your owned sources. 

Analysis and Activation: Data doesn’t have value if you don’t use it. Have a plan for moving your data from your analytics tool to a data warehouse to analyze it and unlock user insights like predicted lifetime value that you can feed into your marketing tools and tactics. There are many ways to analyze and activate your data, and marketers and data experts must work hand in hand to ensure it’s done correctly, keeping your goals in mind.

Once you’ve met with the stakeholders and considered these three factors, you can turn the meeting insights into data points with events and metadata parameters. You’ll want to document this work by creating a data dictionary that includes the information and prioritizes it by phases, starting with the most critical data points falling into phase one.

After you’ve established your dictionary, circle back to your stakeholders, show them how to read and comment on the data points, and get sign-off so you can move from the documentation phase into implementation with an analytics tool.

No matter which analytics tool you use or how it changes over time, your data collection model will guide you to gather the right data for your organization. Then, what you do with the data is the real game-changer. Many marketers want to rush into a high-profile project or initiative right away. However, don’t skip taking the time to build trust and confidence in your data with smaller wins like uncovering new insights that weren’t possible before or creating new accurate reporting. Finding earlier value will help prove you can be confident in your data before moving to more advanced projects. 

Adapting to Real-World Changes

When you have a solid data collection process and can rely on your data to give you the most accurate information possible, you can make more informed, intelligent decisions for your organization. However, make sure that you remain flexible in your processes. With the state of the world changing quickly, it’s vital to document days, weeks or months that affect trends. 

You might consider making a note of dates directly in your data analytics platform or creating a spreadsheet with columns for significant milestones. Ensure the team members responsible for reporting have access to the information, as it may explain unexpected results. 

Understanding the stories your data tells during major global events can help you create a more holistic narrative of how your consumers engage with your brand and how they want to in the future. And knowing your data is clean and accurate gives you the confidence to forge ahead to create data-driven experiences that will inform and delight your customers. So, instead of trying to catch up with your consumers’ changing needs, your brand can anticipate, adapt, and change alongside them.

Dani Brandtjen is Senior Analytics Manager, Enterprise, at Adswerve.