Too many marketers still haven’t prepared themselves for the loss of cookies and need to activate their first-party data in advertising so they’re not left scrambling, says Criteo global chief product officer, Todd Parsons.
The senior executive caught up with CMO while on a recent trip to Australia to discuss the state of data in advertising and how brands need to up the ante on partnering with tech and media partners if they’re going to handle the end of third-party cookies.
“A great way to think about it is this: Should third-party cookies go away as projected, the connections between brand and media owner first-party data becomes highly valuable,” Parsons says.
Given the time it takes to build a first-party data set, and to connect that data set to media, it’s important marketers and brands to act now so they have advertising scale and efficiency tomorrow, Parsons continues. And that also means building a privacy strategy and narrative.
“Because privacy is also a growing concern for consumers and government, educating people on the value they could receive for sharing [or selling] their information will become common practice,” he says.
Criteo wants to be front and centre in this solution, even if marketers aren’t quite ready to make their move. “We’ll have done our job well if we seamlessly connect brands, retailers and media owners around first-party data so the best customer experience is always delivered,” Parsons says.
The nexus between first-party data and privacy
Marketing chiefs, if they haven’t already, need to be taking a two-pronged approach to preparing for the expected end of third-party cookies.
“If you haven’t put a first-party data and privacy strategy in place, begin doing so now,” Parsons says on the need for timely, dedicated and specific action. Once this is in place, marketers need to craft an execution plan right for the company’s exposure to the disappearance of third-party signals.
“The industry is working day and night on alternatives for marketers and brands to advertise effectively in privacy-preserving ways,” Parsons comments.
While first-party data is already an essential part of direct marketing strategies, it’s been more common to customer and loyalty marketing. However, it will also play a vital role in every brand’s ability to acquire new customers, Parsons says.
But there’s still a long way to go, according to the company’s research. A 2021 Criteo survey found a third of Australian companies still rely on third-party cookies for their digital marketing. The adtech player doesn’t believe much has changed since.
Bringing utility to consumers in their quest to discover information about products and services, shop between them, then buy with greater confidence underpins commerce media, something that Criteo is firmly focused on.
“By focusing on this objective, it’s easier to cut through the complexity of our industry, consolidate the functions of many point solutions, and to enable marketers, retailers and publishers to work together towards heightening this value,” Parsons says.
And as consumers become savvier about who and how they share their personal information, it presents new avenues for marketers, according to Criteo’s global chief technology officer, Diarmuid Gill.
“We’ve recently seen people become more aware and more deliberate about the choices they make regarding their data, purposefully considering who they share their data with and who they don’t,” he says. “In some ways, it’s a great opportunity for brands, advertisers and retailers to ensure they educate users on the exchange of value. Because of the growing trust between parties, the connections that exist are typically higher quality ones. This becomes a greater, more powerful tool for advertisers and for the end user because they feel they’re more in control.
“The more we can educate consumers on the value of sharing their data for the purpose of improving their shopping experience, the more opportunities come from the relationship.”
Looking ahead, Gill expects deeper personalisation, particularly within new digital environments, to be a must-have. As to adtech, “we’re going to see more innovation in this space in years to come especially around how advertising interacts with the end-user experience,” he says.
Gill gives the example of billboards at major sporting events such as at the World Cup, which show different advertisements based on where a consumer is viewing from. “This leaves open the possibility to provide personalised advertising to every single viewer rather than one generic message,” he explains.
At the same time, advertising in the metaverse is continuing to grow, and augmented reality is helping to reach new customers with new experiences. In response, the Criteo AI Lab is working towards innovations in computational advertising, with a team of researchers and engineers. It’s looking to tackle challenges such as how to deal with 250 billion requests per day, how to compute a recommendation of 1 billion products and 1.5 billion users in less than 50 milliseconds.
The lab is also looking at how to more accurately make ad click predictions in milliseconds, delving into auction theory to optimise these processes and linking offline metrics to online performance.
“It’ll be exciting to see where this experimentation is taking us,” Gill adds.
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