While tech giants work to remove third-party cookies and implement stricter privacy policies, marketers are left with the burning question: How can they precisely serve audiences ads without cookies and meet the increasing demand for more ethical data privacy standards? The answer is surprisingly simple: Give consumers more control over their data.
Consumers deserve a say in what happens to their data
Cookies have become one of the most popular ways that advertisers build targeted audiences, but nearly half of US consumers say they don’t have a great understanding, if any, of how cookie IDs function, according to YouGov data. That gap in understanding can lead to a lack of trust between brands and consumers.
Nearly two-thirds (64%) of consumers surveyed by YouGov say they have little to no trust in the apps in regards to protecting their data, and yet half also don’t often or never read the terms and conditions before downloading an app. Communicating with consumers about how their data is being used shouldn’t rely solely on them reading the often lengthy terms and conditions, often written in legal jargon.
The rising demand for data transparency points to the need for a shift in how data is collected, one that puts consumers first. As an industry, we need to shift the norm so that consumers are more aware of what happens to their data and have a say in how it’s used. Allowing consumers to monetize their data creates a marketplace that both gives consumers control of where their data ends up, and allows brands to better understand their audience through more robust, connected data streams.
Look to connected data streams for deeper audience insights
Cookie-led targeting has always been partially effective at best, simply because piecing together individual interests through third-party data is rife with assumptions that are not always warranted.
As an anecdotal example, I was shopping for my daughter online, and for the next several weeks was served ads for women’s bathing suits. Although I’m getting my daughter in swimming lessons as soon as she’s old enough, I’m more of a trunks guy myself. On the flip side, media buyers are forced to forecast advertising ROI based on probability, which is rarely as comprehensive or insightful as we hope.
Consumer-provided data is the key to unlocking more accurate audience insights while maintaining data privacy standards. By sourcing data streams, including things like shopping, streaming, and browser data from consented individuals, marketers can map out a more complete picture of their target audience.
Suddenly, campaign reporting can go beyond platform-provided metrics and probabilistic modeling to reveal hyper-relevant insights. For example, brands can get equivalent ad spend on product placement buys based on who actually watched a certain show, intersected with the shopping and purchase data the consumers agreed to provide and combine this information with the context of how much of the screen the brand took up for how many seconds.
Engaging consumers at a 1:1 level for their data in a transparent exchange gives brands the ability to understand who their consumers are, what they’re interested in, and how they’re actively engaging with products.
The modern competitive edge lies in ethical data practices
Consumers are starting to care more about what happens to their data, and the current lack of clarity around how their data is collected may not satisfy them for much longer. In the near future, consumers are likely to start making decisions about what they purchase based on whether they trust a brand to protect their data. What has been an unspoken or poorly understood bargain is set to become a conscious part of customers’ relationships with brands.
As first- and zero-party data—in which consumers intentionally share their data—become more and more valuable, companies need to adjust. The brands that can master ethical data practices will quickly become the brands that thrive in a post-cookie world. Giving consumers more control of their data, and even empowering them to monetize it, will ultimately lead to more sustainable growth, heightened transparency, and deeper connections between consumers and brands.