The Importance of First-Party Data in an Era of Increased Privacy Restrictions

Just as advertisers have long relied on calls to action to prompt consumers, Apple’s move this year to enhance consumer privacy on its devices and Google’s announcement of 2023 being the year to end third-party cookies should trigger marketers to take action to shift away from third-party data and focus on building direct relationships with customers.

For years, marketers have had the luxury of using retargeting and cookie-based targeting. But those proven ways to generate quantitative results are coming to an end and increased privacy restrictions will make gathering actionable data from external sources a challenge.

Advertisers should already be responding to this new landscape by committing to a foundation of transparency and control that begins with a commitment to building first-party data sets.

Quality first-party data entails more than just developing an email list, especially one that hasn’t been scrubbed in years. Advertisers need to go further and create an internal data management platform that prioritizes high-quality leads based on purchase history and individual customer attributes, while also providing a simplified way of determining where their most valuable traffic is coming from.

With the cookieless world rapidly approaching, marketers should already be working with data providers and platforms to utilize data “clean rooms” to onboard additional first-party data. Though they don’t provide specific consumer identifiers, these clean rooms still deliver great insights about customers and how best to engage them via email and display creative.

Given the major concerns about privacy, gathering first-party data requires that brands take a new approach with their customers that is centered on providing transparency and building trust. In addition to providing coupons and other valued incentives in exchange for customers providing their personal information, marketers need to clearly explain exactly what information is collected, how it is used, and how consumers can opt-out or unsubscribe if they choose to do so.

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Performance Marketing—A Key to a Cookieless World

Along with collecting first-party data, all brands, especially those with a strong eCommerce presence, need to find ways to strengthen their click-based, performance marketing strategies. As traditional tracking mechanisms fall away, the ability to market to customers directly, outside walled gardens and data partners, will likely emerge as a key component of digital advertising going forward.

By working with the right media partner, brands can begin to end the attribution confusion that often hampers performance marketing. Tools and platforms that leverage server-to-server tracking through the development of internal transaction IDs will provide clarity on whether a consumer went directly to an eCommerce site on their own or clicked a digital ad to get there. A robust back-end infrastructure that facilitates one-click conversion and tracking will also reward the publishers that, in turn, end up providing valuable traffic.

The arrival of shopping cart tools that integrate tracking with a one-click setup will allow marketers to have full visibility of their checkout processes while providing unique commissioning opportunities for affiliates, publishers and influencers.

Instead of relying on ad networks with suspect inventory, brands can begin to work directly with publishers, blogs, and influencers on a performance pricing basis. For example, brands can create trackable coupons that are exclusive to specific websites and generate insights not only on the types of promotions that are likely to drive conversions, but also on where to target advertising spending going forward. This approach will likely make rapid scaling a challenge for brands but will enable them to steadily build up a collection of partner sites that can be verticalized by consumer interests. True attribution is the ultimate end goal, and trackable coupons go a long way in driving those efforts.

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Optimize Landing Pages Based on First-Party Data

In a cookieless world that will likely drive up the cost of click-based programs, marketers will need to maximize every lead, and that should start with prioritizing landing page optimization so that consumers know exactly what they should do once they arrive at a product page. Brands can even increase the chance of conversion, gain more insights into their customers, and optimize their marketing efforts by creating multiple landing pages, each targeted to a specific product or category and linked to an exclusive limited-time offer.

All ad creative and web pages should be optimized for both desktop and mobile, especially the latter, where more than 70% of eCommerce sales take place. The most successful campaigns stem from the combination of unique creative formats, clear calls to action, and user-friendly digital pages and sites optimized for mobile.

By developing robust first-party data, marketers can gain the upper hand and separate themselves from competitors in all three of these steps, while still building trust and respecting the privacy of their most-valued customers.

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