Dont miss our awards deadlines
Agencies for Growth Festival Banner

How agencies are preparing for a cookieless future

The current disruption has put the spotlight on the unique role of agencies as platform-agnostic experts.

Shifting consumer preferences, changing regulations, disappearing third-party cookies, and privacy updates are impacting the efficacy of online ads—but can the disruption become a key driver for innovation?

In a revealing panel discussion, leaders from Facebook, Dentsu International, Accenture and CruiSo Digital shared how the industry can still make relevant ads while ensuring privacy is respected.

It’s all about the customer

At the heart of the industry developments are two growing trends: people rightfully want more control over their data, but when faced with infinite choices they also want ads that are tailored and personalized. According to one study from Epsilon, as many as 80% of consumers are more likely to make a purchase from a brand that provides personalized experiences.

“If you look at the entire ecosystem and how it’s evolved, ultimately it’s the voice of the people that prevails,” said Abhinay Bhasin, vice president (Asia Pacific), Data Sciences, Dentsu International. Bhasin pointed out that laws like GDPR were triggered by people’s demand for better control over their privacy. “I do believe personalization and privacy go hand-in-hand—it is not an either or situation. And our clients are really adapting to the idea of getting consent-based data to activate their audiences.”

For Jan Hofmann-Cassiani, product marketing for Facebook (APAC), it is entirely possible for personalization and privacy to co-exist—and if anything, people expect that experiences are tailored to their tastes and in the formats they prefer. “To keep up with people’s expectations around privacy and relevancy, businesses must innovate their data practices, including being transparent about how and why they use customer information, providing better value across the consumer journey and treating data respectfully once it’s received.”

According to Tim Higgins, customer insights & growth lead at Accenture (ANZ), personalization really requires a strong value exchange. “We are telling organizations to think of this as an evolution. As things accelerate, innovation and experimentation is really the way forward with measurement being fundamental in delivering success.”

How agencies are taking the lead

The current disruption has put the spotlight on the unique role of agencies as platform-agnostic experts.

For his part, Bhasin is focused on two things: educating and demystifying the changes for clients as well as encouraging brands to strengthen their first-party data. “There’s a lot of noise out there and very little guidance, so we’re really focused on the guidance part of it and partnering with important players like Facebook to raise awareness. Equally, we’re urging clients to build on their first-party data because that’s going to be crucial and fundamental to providing relevant, contextual advertising in ways that ultimately improve the consumer experience,” he explained.

At Dentsu, a recent example of this is DAN Sync, a proprietary custom solution the agency in India developed to help Kotak Securities link its CRM with online marketing efforts. Then, with Facebook as a key platform for customer acquisition, the stock broking firm was able to effectively reach prospects for conversion.

At CruiSo Digital, managing partner Jasmine Tsang is getting ahead of the disruption by adopting a test and experiment mindset. “We’ve really embraced this privacy-first mindset and are constantly testing, learning and refining our strategies. Even still, success will not happen overnight. For example, even with building out first-party data, it takes time to evolve existing structures and databases, and in the meantime we need to identify solutions to minimize the impact of these changes,” she said.

Bhasin agrees that change is imminent and often immediate. “With the response to recent changes around iOS14.5—it’s clear that consumers are now more guarded with their data. So the time to act and build out first-party data is now.”

For brands starting to invest in first-party data, both Bhasin and Tsang strongly advise them to assess where they are in terms of data systems, how usable their current data is, and how much needs to be upgraded. “Talk to your digital partners, understand your internal policies, review current data capabilities, and get necessary buy-in from your stakeholders,” Tsang added.

Measure, measure, measure

First-party data is increasingly crucial from a measurement standpoint, too—and businesses may consider utilizing their data and analytics for enhanced one-to-one engagement as well as measurement and optimization.

As with everything else, adapting and staying flexible are crucial for agencies and consultants focused on the common goal of helping clients navigate these changes. “Focus marketing spend and customer engagement on growth while continually optimizing and experimenting. This provides organizations with the flexibility to adjust and pivot as the world changes due to both technology evolution and external forces like Covid impacting consumers,” said Higgins. “Measurement and optimization of spend on digital platforms is a real focus for our clients in the market which has been a key driver for us to jointly develop this whitepaper with Facebook to provide insight into the current global changes and how organizations should address them.”

“Beyond this, If we come together as an industry, I believe it’ll be a win-win for both customers and advertisers,” he added.

Resources to help your business navigate the cookie-less future

By continuing to use The Drum, I accept the use of cookies as per The Drum's privacy policy