If the boxing world hosted a title fight among media giants, it would be a three-way cage match. Lately, Google, Apple and Facebook have been throwing punches at each other regarding consumer privacy, but it sure seems like the brand marketer is the one taking the body blows. Yes, consumers are the “product” everyone is fighting over, but let’s look at the marketer that is caught in the middle and poised to take some serious heat from consumers as the advertising and digital messaging landscape has been disrupted significantly.
How did we get here, to the cookie-pocalypse?
Before we lament the marketer’s plight, let’s understand the actions that got us here. First, Google said it’s killing cookies. Then, Apple switched up the IDFA (identifier for advertisers) and severely hindered the marketer’s ability to track and subsequently serve up ads on devices. Google then crushed the hashed email as a unique identifier for tracking people across the web. And Facebook? Well, it has a user issue and growing disdain for its explicit disregard for its product’s privacy. That is, people’s privacy.
Then you have the brand marketer sitting in the middle of this melee. Most brands want consumers to have a seamless, unified experience across the web, but the advertising landscape has been tipped on its side and no one seems to know how to right that ship. And guess what? More tsunamis are forecast. Look at Virginia’s CCPA-like VCDPA legislation that passed in March 2021, the EU’ recommendation of a ban on all targeted ads using tracking, and who knows what platform changes you’ll wake up to tomorrow, next week or next month.
It’s definitely worth noting that many agencies and media buyers have been making their brand clients fat and sick by feeding their addiction to the third-party cookie. Marketers got lazy. Where did the creative effort go? Why did we let snooping-based tracking technology and AI-informed algorithms control the brand experience in advertising? Instead of looking at the long-term health of the advertising and marketing landscape, we got hooked on tech and it’s made us lose our way. Oh Calgon, take me away!
It’s time for marketers to play by their own (data) rules
So, what’s a brand to do? It’s time brands take a page straight from the playbook that made these media giants so powerful: Build a database of your own. After all, people are the actual product offered by Google, Amazon and other audience platforms, and it’s the only reason brands advertise on them. If engaging people on those platforms—organic or paid—is why you are there, why not go right to the audience directly?
Marc Pritchard is a pretty smart guy, and he declared this as the focus for P&G way back in 2019. The P&G chief brand officer has billions of consumer records in his database and knows a lot about them. Maybe more than Google or Facebook. New 2021 rule: It’s OK to steal a good idea from another successful marketer. In fact, it’s downright foolish to ignore a great idea, and that’s what Marc’s is, a great f’ing idea. The IAB just said so in its 2021 Digital Ad Ecosystem Report.
Marketers: Here’s your strategy, starting now
Let’s fast-forward and assume you agree that building a database of opted-in consumers is a more sustainable path. How will that approach bring brands freedom and sustainability? I don’t have enough space to provide all the ways, but I’ll give you the starting point.
Collect zero-party data as you build your database and learn what each consumer wants, needs, how they will buy, where they will buy and even get them to reveal their budget for your products. Yes, it’s that simple. Cheetah Digital has been collecting, storing and activating that consumer information for global enterprise brands by the hundreds of millions. We then use Cheetah Digital’s Customer Engagement Suite to send hyper-personalized offers, content and interactive experiences across email, SMS, loyalty programs, on websites and in apps. That’s one-to-one marketing at scale, and the revenue results are quite impressive.
I’m pressed for space in this paid, non-cookie-powered article, but I do have a 10-minute video explaining how to make all of this come to life if you’re interested. We’ll show you exactly how global enterprise brands collect consumer data at scale plus their results when using it across all marketing channels, including for paid advertising—all without cookies or privacy legislation getting in their way. You don’t even have to give me your information. Watch it now.