2019 was a whirlwind, especially for tech-savvy marketers on the lookout for the next critical trend. It’s easy to feel like your organization is a perpetual motion machine, jumping from one project, activation, or campaign to the next. But with the year over, it’s wise to take a moment to refocus on the big opportunities and challenges marketers face in 2020 and some of the organizational hurdles they’ll need to overcome in order to meet them head-on.
A Big Focus in 2019 Has Been Around Marketers’ Understanding of the Customer Journey and Personalization.
Data privacy has been a hot topic for years, but 2019 saw the conversation really gain steam, inspired by a series of high-profile data breaches and leaks that have put a spotlight on some of the most important technologies driving digital marketing and regulators to take a second look at advertising and marketing tech solutions. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) has been in effect for more than a year and is the single largest regulatory expression of the public’s emerging interest in data privacy, and it continues to spawn other legislative efforts around the world such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
With CCPA, brands have to take notice. Unlike GDPR which is an opt-in law, CCPA is an opt-out regulation. And while CCPA is specific to California, brands and publishers need to be thinking about data policies that prioritize consent from consumers. By getting ahead of CCPA and making privacy a priority, brands can actually improve customer relationships and build trust. Now is the time for marketers to go look at the vendors they work with and understand how personal data is collected and used.
Put First-Party First
The rising privacy conversations have also prompted changes to popular browsers aimed at curbing the collection of user data. These browsers are making changes that impact the one-to-one targeting and retargeting technology that marketers have relied on for 25 years.
As sources of third-party data begins to dry up, many marketers are taking a second look at first-party data collection efforts to fill the gap. The good news is that there are solutions available, and embracing them sooner rather than later will ease the transition away from cookies and foster much better ways to connect with customers.
As these browsers are shifting their focus at different rates, marketers need to think like data scientists. Analyze your traffic by browser to see where your site is most vulnerable to sudden changes in browser policy. Rather than pull back from browsers with more restrictive policies, take advantage of these changes by developing browser-specific campaigns that leverage temporarily lowered inventory costs.
A big focus in 2019 was around marketers’ understanding of the customer journey and personalization. In order to truly understand what drives an action, a purchase or a click, marketers need to be able to connect the dots with data that is centralized or teams that are working together to understand the insights that live within the data.
Breaking down silos — for instance, those that separate marketing teams executing campaigns from the analytics teams measuring their impact on business goals through website conversions — should be a focus as we move toward a more data-driven approach this year. Only by breaking down the walls between media and data will marketers be able to build meaningful and fully informed relationships with customers.
Control and Centralize Data
Integrating analytics and media functions under one roof isn’t just an efficiency play. In a world where public privacy concerns have been propelled by a series of high-profile breakdowns in trust, keeping a tight lid on your data operation is critical to protecting brand reputation.
To meet this challenge, marketing organizations need to gain control of their data and mitigate risk to their brand and consumers. In some cases, this may mean a dedicated role for a data protection officer to safeguard and manage data assets and ensure they are used efficiently and securely. For others, it’s ensuring that all data relationships are managed by a single team, typically marketing so that they can be centralized and, if necessary, transferred en masse to a new partner with minimal friction.
Embrace the Cloud
The real watchword for 2020 and beyond will be measurement. The promise of digital has always been the ability to measure the impact of campaigns and attribute to specific business KPIs to them. However, as channels multiply and audiences become more fragmented across platforms and screens, the data sets have grown exponentially larger. Consider employing a cloud-based solution like the Google Cloud Platform that can help to make sense of the wealth of signals you’re collecting. Products like BigQuery can help marketers to comb through the data, surface insights, and activate more of their first-party owned data to build predictive models that drive campaigns.