We’ve been lucky in digital media up to this point. Unlike many of our analogue channel friends, we’ve been blessed with a multitude of metrics. We can monitor to extremely granular detail the myriad of complex interactions that eventually wind up as a conversion. It’s this information that helps us put marketing investment in the right areas – and make sure we’re being as effective as we possibly can be.
Our ability to report in such detail, and understand how different touchpoints impact conversions, is largely thanks to third party systems and techniques for identifying customers, either by their cookies or by their device. But the landscape is dramatically shifting in this area, which is going to make tracking and analytics more difficult in the future.
As of January this year, Apple, Google and Mozilla had all made announcements that they were moving away from third party cookies. Apple then took things up a notch. Put simply, it’s latest iOS14 release places more data protection powers in the hands of users – and this is going to make it much more difficult for advertisers to identify consumers across sites and apps by the device they’re using. Cookies are already on their way out – and it looks like time is running out for device IDs as ad tracking solutions too.
So what does this mean in simple terms? Basically, it’s about to get harder to collect data, target audiences, measure effectiveness and conduct attribution analysis. By that we mean– it’s going to be harder to identify which digital touchpoints have been successful in encouraging consumers to convert.
We certainly did. These decisions have been made largely to give consumers more ownership and control over their data. Regulations like GDPR and CCPA have, rightly, put data privacy front and centre. And let’s face it – some advertisers were horrifically flippant in the past with consumers’ data and eroded a lot of trust. It’s just and fair that consumers are given greater controls over how their personal data is accessed and used by advertisers. Personal data is now a commodity – and advertisers need to work harder to win consumers’ trust and provide enough value in exchange for that commodity.
The trouble is now that the alternative measurement options on the table right now aren’t completely ideal. The situation is changing, but the absence of third-party tracking solutions, cynically, places nicely into the hands of major platforms who identify customers by first party logins, rather than cookies or device IDs. Google, Facebook and Apple are all developing their own attribution solutions, which is great, but we could risk a two-fold problem, where we up spending more on the platforms because they’re easy to measure and then allowing the platforms to mark their own homework when it comes to performance reporting.
We’re working with our clients to stay ahead of a rapidly changing landscape in reporting and analytics. In the immediate term, we’re encouraging our clients to think hard about what they’re tracking and why. We’re making sure that the metrics we’re reporting on are clearly tied to business outcomes – and we’re not getting distracted by softer metrics.
We’re also encouraging our clients to ready themselves for what’s coming down the track by collecting as much first, or zero, party data as possible. To do this, we’re encouraging them to build trackable elements into the online experience and use micro-conversions alongside full-scale transactions as opportunities to collect as much data as possible. To reduce the reliance on platform data tools and older school methods of effectiveness measurement (such as market mix modelling) in a cookie-less world, we want to be in a position where the client owned data tells us the story about how channel interplay influences customer acquisition costs and customer lifetime value.
If you have any questions about this, please get in touch!
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