Making Sense of First-Party Data in a Post-Cookie World

Making Sense

In association with Quantcast.

Ahead of ATS London 2022, Sophie Lee, sales director at Quantcast, discusses how a comprehensive approach to data in the nebulous post-cookie ecosystem and building trusted relationships with consumers should form the crux of marketing efforts.

Whether we’re talking about first-party, second-party or third-party cookie data (or even zero-party data - whatever that is), understanding and organising customer data to activate a marketing strategy, is inherently complex. Even first-party data, which has become more valuable than ever, is useless without the right mechanisms in place to enable brands to effectively interpret and leverage it to achieve their marketing goals. It’s like having all the ingredients for the perfect birthday cake without the recipe.

Given the increasingly crucial role first-party data is set to play in the digital ecosystem with the impending loss of third-party cookies, getting the right infrastructure in place to make the most out of this asset is vital for marketers' ability to compete going forward. Having a long list of email addresses isn’t valuable if a brand can’t make sense of the list or figure out how best to use it.

At the same time, brands are soon, if not already, grappling with the reality that first party data, while invaluable, has a ceiling. To truly scale and make good use of this valuable asset, they’ll need a partner with powerful AI technology.

It starts with consumer connections

Sophie Lee

Sophie Lee, sales director, Quantcast

It’s important for marketers to begin with a compliant first-party data strategy, and an emphasis on consented data collected directly from their customers. Of course, this is easier for certain product categories than others. For certain vertical channels and business models including direct-to-consumer brands, data collection is inherent to how these companies transact with customers, which means that building trust and long-lasting customer relationships has been core to their strategies from day one.

However, other brands, such as those that sell primarily through third party stores or web platforms will need to develop more integrated, creative first-party data methodologies, while taking steps to ensure they are not adversely impacting their consumers' journeys or their own reputation.

In either case, almost every marketer will find themselves pushing for as much first-party data as they can, while also understanding that this strategy has limits.

Making sense of first-party data

The reality of most first data sets is that they can’t scale, and to make the most of this data, brands will need outside help.

According to Forrester, brands will flock to AI-powered audience solutions, fuelling 20% of media and advertising category growth in 2022. With AI and machine learning, marketers can gain insights in real time and at scale, providing them with the ability to better understand their audience, what they need and where they’re looking for it. This can empower marketers to create better online experiences, improve business performance and build brand trust through true relevance. If marketers are not using AI-driven solutions to enhance their campaigns, they may be missing out on insights, new audiences, and productivity gains.

However, it’s important to note that, just as first-party data isn’t a be-all end-all solution, neither is AI on its own. Navigating a cookieless, privacy-first future will require a wide range of techniques, including cohorts and contextual targeting. Each tactic is likely to become more potent over time, and the brands that embrace this early will likely benefit the most.

Indeed, the most comprehensive approach will come from a wide variety of ‘signals’ from consumers – real-time data inputs from across the internet, including first-party data with consumer consent, contextual approaches, cohorts and identifiers. It’s going to take all those and more to create a sophisticated, holistic view of activity on the open internet.

Get ahead of the curve now

There’s no doubt that digital ad targeting has endured radical change of late - and more change is surely on horizon. And yes, reaching consumers effectively, which is never easy, is likely to grow more complicated. Which is why it’s time for marketers to shift their focus today, and take on a multi-signal approach to replacing their cookie-based media spending. The marketers poised to win tomorrow are likely to be the ones that build deep, trusted, and direct relationships with consumers while also mastering numerous available data points.

ATS London 2022 will take place on 14th and 15th June at Central Hall Westminster. Tickets and further information are available via the ATS London 2022 event hub.