As Cookies Crumble, People-Based Marketing Puts Audiences Front and Centre

Bird Crumbs

The cookie, long used as a primary tool in the ad tech armoury for tasks such as behavioural targeting and frequency capping, is befalling a death much like its namesake biscuit. At this stage it may not have disintegrated, but it has certainly been dipped in a hot brew. The perceived lack of alternatives has worsened existing fractures in the media landscape and a succession of pivots, though many have been left wondering where to head next.

Writing exclusively for ExchangeWire, Richard Ottoy, VP of publisher development (EMEA), OpenX, discusses how people-based marketing can bridge the fractures and ensure programmatic continues to fulfil marketing needs.

Programmatic in the UK today is a mixed bag. Whilst programmatic advertising accounts for nearly 90% of spend in the UK, the full potential of programmatic is yet to be reached.

Today, programmatic is still largely focused on the exact same processes and goals it was built to achieve years ago – gathering the world’s content, and selling ad space around it to pay for that content. While this system works, the incredible technology we have developed that enables billions of digital advertising transactions to occur every day can achieve so much more. Marketers want their programmatic buying to keep up with the rest of the ad industry, so it’s no surprise they’re crying out not just for automated ad-buying, but for more impactful permission-based, one-to-one advertising on the open web.

As it stands, a continued lack of focus is benefitting one set of companies in particular – the walled gardens. Currently, the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Google rake in disproportionate levels of cash in comparison with the wider open web. According to recent research from comScore, just 34% of consumers’ time online is spent on Facebook and Google properties, yet Facebook and Google make up more than 63% of all digital ad spend in the UK – over-indexing nearly two fold.

What marketers want and need is a solution that brings that ‘walled garden’ experience to the open web – and here are some of the reasons why it’s paramount the industry makes concrete moves in that direction:

Cookies aren’t so smart
Richard Ottoy

Richard Ottoy, VP of publisher development, EMEA, OpenX

Most advertisers feel that the duopoly has too much power, and in a world where companies like Google can simply ‘turn off’ third-party cookie tracking, it’s critical advertisers have options beyond cookies and device IDs to reach consumers.

Not only are cookies being forced out, but the industry has relied on them for far too long considering the limited value they provide. Cookies and device IDs only provide a narrow picture of the consumer and marketers need more to execute the kinds of people-based campaigns that work far more efficiently within the walled gardens. Identity solutions should bring together consumer behaviour and attributes from a variety of different sources in a sophisticated and anonymous way. Importantly, identity is just one piece of the puzzle. To truly unlock the power of people-based marketing for the open web, we need to move beyond simply identity and add context to the equation as well.

Once technology can enable marketers to reach consumers in a privacy-compliant manner on the open web - the same way they do today inside the walled gardens - the result will be a significantly better ad experience for individual users, increased engagement for the brand and more revenue for publishers and content creators. Perhaps most importantly, simple changes to the way ad technology works today will mean marketers no longer have to rely on any one single tool that can simply be “turned off” or phased out.

The UK’s splintered media landscape is impossible to connect

With the media landscape increasingly fragmented, a unified ID solution – a universal, interchangeable currency that unites data from disparate, often incompatible sources – couldn’t come sooner. Consumers nowadays spend their time across a wide range of devices, viewing or listening to content across numerous channels. To truly understand the customer journey therefore means piecing together preferences and behaviour far beyond the walled gardens.

As effective as the walled gardens are, they still struggle with a key component of advertiser campaigns - reach. First and foremost, not everyone uses the walled gardens – and even if someone does spend time on Facebook and Google properties, a marketer may not be able to engage them the appropriate number of times to get the desired outcome.

Every marketer has a desired frequency to reach a consumer in order to make an impact, and whether this is two, five or twenty times, they are much more likely to be able to achieve that number of engagements by tapping into the massive scale of the open web to connect with consumers where they are.

People-based marketing is the future

The fragmented state of the UK media landscape and the clear move away from cookies are both signs the industry needs to evolve. As we look at programmatic advertising today, it’s clear that the technology powering advertiser campaigns must evolve beyond gathering and monetising inventory. Tech companies need to empower marketers by providing a complete view of the individuals behind the screen, as well as offering easy to use tools that help marketers to take action on those insights when they’re building campaigns.

To do so, independent players must replicate all that’s good about the walled garden experience, but on the open web. That means delivering solid identity solutions that enable us to reach consumers with relevant advertising in a very fragmented media environment. But marketers are demanding more than the bare minimum. A people-based marketing solution goes even further, giving a view that includes device-level data, online habits and position in the marketing funnel – perhaps even insight into what CPM might be required to win them in a particular environment. That enables a personalised, creative experience that aligns perfectly with consumer preferences.

People-based marketing will help the industry move away from unpredictable cookies, and allow them to maximise the UK’s fragmented media landscape. By bringing together the best parts of the walled gardens with the limitless scale of the open web, programmatic can be upgraded to meet the needs of today’s marketing industry.

So let’s rise to the task and welcome the era of people-based marketing – when ad spend finally comes home to the open web.

People-based marketing and other strategies primed to flourish in the era of the crumbled cookie are set to be discussed in depth during this year's ATS London, held on September 9th at BFI Southbank. Final release tickets are available for purchase here.