Overwhelming Majority of Execs Unprepared For Future of Personalization, Optimizely Global Survey Shows

97% of executives admit they are ill-prepared for Google phasing out third-party cookies; 86% believe their personalization capabilities are inadequate

At a pivotal moment for digital marketing, with Google announcing plans to eliminate cookies, a striking 97% of executives report they feel unprepared for this foundational shift in how companies will learn about consumers’ preferences and behavior. And with over 75% of consumers more likely to consider buying products from brands that personalize, 86% of executives believe their ability to run personalized marketing campaigns is inadequate. That data comes from a recent survey conducted by Optimizely, the leading digital experience platform (DXP) provider.

This research, which includes respondents from 1,000 Marketing, E-Commerce and IT executives in six markets – the US, UK, GermanySwedenAustralia/New Zealand and Singapore, comes at a pivotal moment for marketers – as Google phases out cookies, AI emerges and regulatory threats grow.

“This report makes clear that brands are ill-prepared to navigate the emerging, generational shifts in the ways they can reach customers,” said Shafqat Islam, CMO at Optimizely. “While executives know that investing in personalization and experimentation are key to survive in the new reality of digital experiences, they too often feel they don’t have a streamlined, intuitive toolkit to implement effective campaigns at scale. Accessing marketing solutions that create personalized digital platforms without third-party data will be key to thriving in the coming decades.”

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Executives broadly agree that personalization is key to an effective marketing strategy – 62% of respondents increased their personalization budget since last year. They also recognize the specific benefits of experimentation within these efforts, including its ability to identify mistakes, (40%), allow for data-driven decisions (40%), test strategies before they’re employed (39%), personalize customer experiences (39%), and discover which personalization strategies work (39%).

However, companies are still widely struggling to implement an effective personalization strategy:

  • Executives implementing real-time personalization experiences face numerous challenges, including a lack of focused analytics (43%), difficulty scaling personalization programs (40%), and difficulty activating experiences in real-time (39%).
    • While 64% have begun implementing real-time personalization strategies, just 9% have reached full implementation.
    • Many also face process-oriented obstacles: over a third (36%) cite disjointed workflows as a top challenge.
  • Just 26% of executives report having a unified definition of personalization throughout their organization.
    • While virtually all executives surveyed with a personalization strategy are measuring their ROI, no single metric is used by even half of respondents, suggesting a broad uncertainty on how to understand and track success for these efforts.
  • 43% fear an ineffective personalization campaign will result in reduced future marketing budgets.

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Google’s phaseout will leave companies hard-pressed for the data they rely on. To succeed in the upcoming era digital marketing, brands will need to stop relying on third-party data, and instead focus on creative ways to develop campaigns based on data they can discern from consumers directly.

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