The right message, to the right person, at the right time. Advertisers have been trying to achieve this trifecta since the concept of “brand” was created ages ago.
In digital marketing, this quest has fueled decades of investment in the advertising technology industry. But at times, the rapid build-out of ad tech programs and products has been so “bleeding-edge” that the result was a shaky ad tech infrastructure.
Nevertheless, collecting digital viewer behavior data (user-level data) to deliver “relevant” advertising has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. Much of the ad tech ecosystem has been built on assumptions about the abundance, accuracy, connectedness, and growth of user-level data. However, instead of the tremendous growth and access that is promised, user-level data is now less accessible and less connected than ever before.
In fact, one might liken the ad tech infrastructure to a house of cards.
Enter the era of data deprecation
Privacy legislation. Walled gardens. Cookie loss. Consumer backlash. The foundation of much of the ad tech world appears to be crumbling. Ad tech players both new and old are looking to recreate and rebuild their value propositions, but they continue to face barriers from walled gardens and privacy challenges that limit their scale, coverage, and accuracy.
But what can marketers do in the face of data disruption to protect themselves and their customers? While many are scrambling to understand the new landscape and implications for their business, there are three steps that are important to focus on.
- Invest in what remains and seek workarounds for data deprecation
- Endeavor to grow their own first-party data assets
- Experiment with new, emerging ways to connect with customers
Each of the above options will help steady a brand’s footing while providing value. Ideally, companies will be able do a combination of all three, closely monitor the business impact, and adapt based on performance. To measure performance effectively, a robust analytics framework is required.
Analytics as a stable foundation
To future-proof their business, marketers must better fortify their analytics foundation. The ad tech model was built on mapping information for individual users and then essentially cyber-stalking to acquire more data. The jury of public opinion has spoken though, and the verdict is that personal tracking without explicit permission is creepy. Users are reclaiming autonomy over their personal data, and governments are legislating in their favor (beginning with Europe’s General Data Protection Regulations, or GDPR, which first passed in 2017).
The old adage “the customer is always right” comes to mind here. The disruption of these old models was long overdue, but even after we’ve moved past this era of data deprecation, data availability and data access will continue to evolve. Any future-proofed solution must not rely on any one source, but it should provide an adaptive analytics-based framework that provides actionable intelligence from multiple, changing data sources.
At Analytic Partners, we have evolved our top-down marketing mix modeling (MMM) and bottom-up multi-touch attribution (MTA) into one unified measurement approach, called Commercial Mix Analytics (CMA). This decisioning system is data agnostic and incorporates multiple layers of granularity. This makes it privacy safe, future-proofed and aligned to business impact. With an infrastructure like CMA, we are confident we have a strong foundation to build future systems of insight on.
Right message, right time, right person
Ad tech has always focused on user-level data as the foundation to reach customers, but its dependency on that user-level data has proven ineffective and has created a virtual house of tumbling cards. Now that the industry as a whole is focused on course-correcting its data gathering methods, it’s time for marketers to assess their own vulnerabilities, invest in growing first party data assets, and look at new ways to connect with audiences and measure performance with analytics as the foundation. Only with a robust, all-encompassing analytics system like Commercial Mix Analytics as a foundation will marketers finally be able to deliver the right message at the right time to the right person.