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New data sets will help marketers break their cookie addiction

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New data sets will help marketers break their cookie addiction


30-second summary:

  • A combination of government regulation and users demanding more privacy will soon make cookies, the go-to identifier obsolete
  • The advertising industry is desperately looking for alternative sources of privacy forward data that homes in on the environment around consumers
  • All while tapping into AI solutions that can help understand and connect those data points

Since the inception of digital advertising, and the now decade-old programmatic revolution, advertisers have always sought ways to better identify who their consumers are to ensure they’re actively engaging with the right audience. But our industry is at a period of inflection as the third-party cookie will soon be extinct and advertisers now look for new ways to remain both compliant and effective.

Let’s face it, consumers’ demand for control of their data, increased privacy protections, and the ensuing government regulations are likely to increase. The industry needs innovation as advertisers abandon the cookie jar and look for a new way to engage desired audiences. But old habits die hard, so how can businesses break away from this addiction?

Building an industry that uses non-traditional identifiers

The deprecation of traditional identifiers, especially as it relates to Google’s announcement of Chrome’s doing away with cookies sometime in 2023, underscores the need for the open web, and an open advertising marketplace that eschews the walled garden approach. In an open marketplace, collaboration over competition can lead to the greatest industry innovations and ground-breaking solutions. It also means there is a need for a new kind of data, more contextual and anonymous than personal and invasive.

Weather is one example of this kind of data where a consumer’s online behavior can be more efficiently understood, all while protecting their privacy. As open-web advocates, we support the nature and effectiveness that weather forecasting can offer when highlighting the optimal conditions for driving ad campaign efficiency, content resonance, and consumer engagement.

A simple example of this would be deploying ads for umbrellas where it’s raining. But that’s just scratching the surface for this kind of environmental data set. Precise analysis helps you go deeper and unlock less intuitive insights. For instance, the meaning of “hot weather” can change depending on the reason – a 70-degree day in Northern Maine may inspire consumers to shop for bathing suits, while the same in Southern California has them thinking about sweaters. There are even more counterintuitive samples that can be of use to marketers, like the fact that people eat more ice cream during winter than in summer.

If done correctly, with the right support, brands can turn the relationship between weather by location and complex data sets like health conditions, product sales, and consumer activity into actionable solutions – without relying on third-party cookie data.

Drive consistent results in an open web environment

Moving forward, we believe it’s critical for our industry to be rebuilt upon a bedrock of data that’s sustainable, privacy forward, and also effective in driving consumer engagement. Built upon this foundation, advertisers will be able to drive action without the need for traditional identifiers and ensure ads are delivered when and where they matter most.

On the buy-side, demand-side platforms (DSPs) can help drive this adoption by providing their brands and agencies with the data necessary to do three key things:

1. Deliver on campaign objectives

Serving relevant ads to a brand’s consumers based on the projected impact of upcoming weather, or other contextual data points can help achieve the desired outcomes.

2. Enhance message relevance and resonance

Ensuring a brand’s message will resonate by triggering ads at the optimal time. That way every dollar spent is effective and reaches the right audience, at the right time.

3. Improve brand perception

Brands can create guidelines to ensure discipline and compliance through advertising campaigns. This is especially critical at a time when consumers are demanding more control over their data, and privacy concerns are top of mind with government regulators.

The advertising marketplace of the future will be built upon a collaborative, open web. This is the data that will help advertisers tap into that ecosystem. However, to be truly effective in delivering value, it won’t just be enough to collect the data – it must be analyzed.

Use AI to harness the power of alternative data sources

The final piece of the puzzle for the future of the open web is reliant on a progressive technology that empowers ad tech’s evolution. We believe that artificial intelligence (AI) can help brands and agencies deliver more effective digital campaigns while minimizing wasted ad spend. AI isn’t new, but it’s not being fully leveraged in advertising – and it’s the right tech to tie things together and maximize data as the advertising industry reaches a critical juncture.

For example, AI can leverage data’s ability to impact emotion and help with modeling and training algorithms. Combining sales data, health insights, and near real-time weather forecasting, AI can drive ad campaign efficiency, content resonance, as well as overall consumer engagement.

And the real differentiator for AI, whether it’s weather or another set of contextual data, is that it can be not just analytical, but predictive. Because AI-driven solutions don’t rely solely on past consumer behavior, they can help advertisers look around corners and stay ahead of both micro and macro trends.

Advertising is at an inflection point, but the road ahead is clear

This is a big change for traditional industry. Advertisers, understandably, lean on what works and the third-party cookie has been a default digital currency on the internet for over a decade.

However, the genie is out of the bottle. Regulations are only going to increase and walled gardens have begun to flex their collective muscles when it comes to consumer privacy.

All that said, by acting now, and embracing progressive technology for contextual forms of data, we can rebuild the advertising industry for the long haul.

So, ask yourself, are you ready to make the necessary changes?


Jeremy Hlavacek is Head of Revenue at IBM Watson Advertising.

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