Note to readers: Storyboard18’s new Month In Focus initiative spotlights themes and topics that are pushing marketers to reshape and rethink how brands interact with today’s customers. Our theme for this month is Stacks & Strategies, a martech and adtech spotlight on how decision makers and marketers are advancing the adoption of new technologies and tech-driven strategies in the brand marketing ecosystem. From the defining trends and preparing for a cookiepocalypse to how progressive martech strategies help fast track business and brand growth. Catch this special on Storyboard18.
Google is gearing up to eliminate third-party cookies in its Chrome browser Month In Focus Int Logo vootby 2023, and Apple is making changes to its Identifiers for Advertisers (IDFAs). Third-party cookies have acted as a catalyst for advertisers, who invest heavily on digital, to understand who their consumers are, what their preferences are, and where they are located, to target them with precision.
Third-party cookies on Google Chrome, which holds the largest market share in terms of browsing, help advertisers to personalise, target and retarget their consumers. Marketers across the world are racking their brains to crack new codes of targeting and advertising on the internet.
According to an e-Marketer report, worldwide, 36 percent of marketing professionals expect that customer purchase history will be their most valuable source of data once third-party cookies are gone. Meanwhile, 32 percent see social media profiles as key, and 31 percent plan to rely on website registrations. When the who, what, and whereabouts of the consumers are out of the window, marketers have to develop new strategies to get to consumers.
Shashank Srivastava, senior executive director, marketing and sales, Maruti Suzuki, says that in such a challenging scenario, marketers would depend more on first-party data. The auto major is extensively dependent on it. Maruti Suzuki has a Customer Data Platform (CDP) in place. Data regarding all the interactions with consumers are collected. CDP not only consists of transactional data like invoicing or day-to-day delivery service but also has interactional data that is gathered while conversing with the consumers. According to Srivastava, brands will have to engage in probabilistic audience modeling - a mechanism where data is generated through anonymous data points from a user’s browsing behaviour; and comparing them to deterministic data points - also known as first-party data truth. This can be done with the help of tools like artificial intelligence and machine learning, he suggests.
Quick delivery platform Dunzo’s head - category and growth Mrunmayi Oke has similar thoughts. She states that to maintain the return on investment (ROI) of online marketing spending, advertisers will now have to start utilising first-party data smartly.
Oke says, “Hyper-personalisation through user tracking would become difficult and impact return on ad spend (ROAS). App-based advertising is also set to change with more focus on privacy concerns and data sharing. ATT (app tracking transparency) for iOS is already implemented and android privacy sandbox is expected to follow soon.”
To personalise or not?
Maruti Suzuki’s Srivastava believes in a cookieless world, a solid level of personalisation may not be possible. It would require a lot of investment and upgradation of technology to collect first-party data. But, Mondelez India's vice president - marketing Anil Viswanathan, feels that this is a good time for brands to engage with their consumers through their owned properties or platforms.
On one hand, Srivastava and Oke think of contextual targeting as one of the mechanisms to survive and gain more traction in a cookieless world, on the other Viswanathan says that it all boils down to “How well do the brands know their customers?”
Fifty percent of Mondelez India's advertisements have adopted the personalized route. Viswanathan states, “We have set up a consumer digital organisation where the team is concentrating on our owned media platforms. Through this, we are collecting our own first-party data. It is also about engaging with consumers on an ongoing basis, gathering data and making it smarter along the way." The next step - the brand plans to take is to transfer the data to the regular marketing team. That will then be used by them to design the campaigns with sharp insights.
Experts that Storyboard18 spoke to think advertisers should focus on taking consent from the users. This could be done by displaying the right message about the benefits of collecting secured data in order to deliver a personalised experience. Dunzo’s Oke adds, “In addition to this, relying even more on one-to-one marketing channels like notifications, emails and short messaging service (SMS) would help maintain the ROI in a cookieless world.”
Crunching the right set of data
At Mercedes-Benz India, the focus is on building communities using the observe, orient, decide and act (OODA) model. Santosh Iyer, vice president - sales and marketing of the luxury auto brand in India, says, his team is working on putting together a technology agnostic framework. This will be a safe set of third and second-party data signals that will be used to create activations, mine insights, and personalise communication. “This framework can help leverage key globally defined audiences at a local level. Those audiences can be used in a self-serve manner directly from the activation platform. These audiences are ready to use now and can bring scale and performance to any type of campaign,” he adds.
While Mercedes-Benz India will primarily build up and increase the use of its first-party data, the company is looking at leveraging third-party data partnerships to improve campaign performance. “Contextual and behavioral personalisation will become hygiene going forward,” says Iyer.
Mondelez India's Viswanathan thinks that till the time brands are dependent on somebody else for the data of their own consumers, it would be seen as a flawed strategy. He highlights when the cookie crumbles the advertisers depending on the big social platforms would be a risk over a period.
Startup brands in India that are ahead of the tech curve believe privacy, personalisation, and measurement can all be achieved together if the right tools and strategies are deployed. For instance, tracking pixels—a 1x1 pixel graphic that looks at users’ behaviour, site conversions, web traffics and other similar cookie metrics that are hidden in platforms ranging from banner ads to emails—captures information instead of cookies. For now, Indian advertisers, with investment power are ready to fight the cookiepocalypse.