From Mi3: Why shopper affinity will be crucial for brand marketers in a privacy-first world

Read the original article on Mi3 here.

Bored of the cookie apocalypse yet?

This was the opening question from a client in a meeting this week and it hit home. Yes, because it’s hard to miss the headlines and cookie-chat-fatigue may be setting in. Also, because anyone who works with brands and businesses who advertise is, like my client,  
probably searching for the stamina and the solutions to go the distance in this new world.
In fact, 
even following last week’s news of an extension by Google, dominating many conversations right now is just how marketers will find smarter ways to leverage both the opted-in and anonymous web to continue to run effective and high-performing media campaigns with fewer mobile identifiers and cookies disappearing.

First-party data, open-source universal IDs, the renaissance of contextual targeting and “cohorts” within Google’s Privacy Sandbox have all appeared as the front runners.

These options will no doubt play a part and continue to have their use in a post-cookie world. But in isolation they are probably not enough.

Build a smarter audience map

Modern machine learning and massive datasets mean we’re capable of consumer analysis in a way that was never possible a decade ago.

By looking at myriad personal and non-personal data signals to understand what makes an audience unique, the technology exists to enable the mapping of precise audiences built from identifiers and non-personal factors that represent them and similar consumers.

These dynamic audiences provide an ever-evolving, multi-dimensional snapshot built on location, context, and time. Critically, they don’t rely on personal data to target and execute media campaigns and can scale across almost every programmatic channel.

Not the end of the world as we know it

Consider this: at Blis, we see GPS-based movement data from more than 1.5 billion devices across the globe every month. This is a huge pool, and even if faced with reductions ahead, with fewer mobile identifiers due to iOS privacy changes, we’re still looking at one of the largest accurate and useful data sets across the entire advertising spectrum.

The location ‘panel’ we see goes well beyond the small sample sizes seen with more traditional surveys and market research studies, and past challenges of inaccurate responses and assumptions, to deliver an accurate and increasingly valuable picture of how consumers move about in the real world.

That is why changes to cookies and identifiers do not have to mean the end of the world as we know it.

By starting with a seed audience derived from precise and directly observed location behaviours and then adding various offline and online data sources, a comprehensive view of the characteristics that make an audience unique can be built. Whether it’s where people live, what they’re reading or their average income, combining these factors with real-world movement data unlocks a deep understanding of consumers and their behaviour.

For brands trying to understand and target customers or prospects, that matters now more than ever.

Navigate the consent challenge, find audiences

In our world, dynamic audiences don’t require cookies as the basis of a transaction. Or an email, phone number, name, or any other personal identifier. Not only is a consumer’s privacy respected, this method of targeting is set up to deliver performance and scale. The net result? Brands can continue to reach precise audiences they will otherwise lose.

Yet location data as the key to understanding real world behaviour and a foundation on which robust and meaningful audiences can be built is arguably overlooked.

Which is why, right now, there is a huge opportunity to prove effective and high-performing media campaigns can be delivered without cookies and with far fewer mobile identifiers. And without having to rely solely on the ‘big end of town’ to help you to do it.

For marketers and advertisers, a good place to start is by using movement data combined with rich aggregated and anonymised datasets to build deep consumer insight. In turn, that data can be used in many more ways.

For example, instead of being used only to determine how close customers or prospects are to a physical location, it can also determine where to drive awareness, how to get people to engage or even change behaviour.

Make safe marketing bets, avoid fallout

A big consideration for brands is understanding just how future-proofed their existing suppliers are against incoming fallout. Pointy questions to ask might be how your partners will be able to operate in a post-cookie world? Are they at risk of future regulatory or browser changes? Can they offer a credible, privacy-compliant solution at scale that can deliver the outcomes marketers need now more than ever.

In a world where marketers crave proven privacy-compliant, highly scalable solutions, it’s time to consider that advertising doesn’t need to be one-to-one to be personal.

Dynamic Audience Targeting built on location is by no means the only answer – because there is no single solution. But it’s a really strong one for brands and businesses seeking certainty in an uncertain environment.

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