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Martech Future of Media First Party Data

How Universal Music is making the most of the cookie extinction delay


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

December 1, 2021 | 4 min read

We catch up with Kim Lim, the managing director for Malaysia at Universal Music, to hear how the Vivendi-owned entertainment group is working with ReverseAds to identify relevant audiences by device ID rather than cookies.

With Google’s decision to delay the removal of third-party cookies data until 2023, the ad industry and publishers now have more time to migrate services before the three-month cookie phaseout.

However, it does not change the timeline for marketers to take a clear look at their reliance on third-party cookies to assess any potential impact and possible solutions. They also need to understand their first-party data and fill the void from third-party cookies by inventorying.

One brand that has started doing this is Universal Music, which says it is “diligent” about collecting and protecting its first-party data so the opportunities for growth and differentiation seem obvious.

“At Universal Music, we focus on predicting future actions of marketing professionals to educate them on the benefits of amplifying their brands with music,” explains Kim Lim, managing director for Malaysia at Universal Music.

“Because of the first-party data that we collect when people land on our websites or come to our events, we can identify an audience pool of key decision makers engaging with our keywords, competitors and related content, and introduce them to the idea of sponsoring an artist.”

She adds: “Signups, registrations and knowing more about the consumer are going to help some of our first-party data. We have also seen an acceleration of the signup trend, with people being more willing to opt in when we increase the amount of free content that we have to offer.”

To predict the path to purchase and serve buyers’ ads until they convert while using cookieless tracking, the Vivendi-owned music giant is working with ReverseAds to identify relevant audiences by device ID rather than by using cookies.

The adtech firm is also providing Universal Music with the most accurate targeting by looking at real-time content and keyword searches – without invading personal privacy.

“ReverseAds’ tracking is compliant with GDPR, PDPA, CASL and CCPA, and is not using third-party cookies. Instead of tracking user-level personal identifiable data, their solution focuses on campaign-level engagement data specifically tied to intent on a keyword,” says Lim.

“The information stored is 100% anonymous, yet they can read engagement specific to that user, thus restoring user privacy and data ownership. By using ReverseAds’ privacy-first keyword road-mapping algorithm as an alternative to traditional search advertising, Universal Music can stand out from the crowd and connect with customers on the open web to increase our reach and conversion opportunities.”

For example, when Universal Music launched a 60-day campaign, specifically to identify marketing leaders and introduce them to the benefits of amplifying their brands with music, ReverseAds helped the company market its catalog of signed artist profiles to brand leaders in Malaysia and Singapore.

“With ‘Reverse ABM Ads,’ ReverseAds provides us with the option [of] the exact audience we want to target with its privacy-compliant system, which does not collect or store user-level data,” notes Lim.

“Their network reach uses a cookieless solution to follow users across all devices; serving them ads until they engage or convert. We look forward to seeing results and getting more artists sponsored.”

Looking ahead, due to consumer expectations for privacy and the rapidly-evolving regulatory environment, email identifiers such as the Unified ID 2.0 may not always be a sustainable long-term strategy, cautions Michael Hahn, founder and chief executive officer of ReverseAds.

While the purpose of the identifiers is to bring addressability to the open web in the absence of third-party cookies, he questions if enough consumers consent to their email being used as an ID for ad targeting, and how will brands get them to do it.

“Some publishers have said they will not use identity tech and will remain as subscription-based businesses, but the majority of publishers don’t have that luxury. Not all media brands want or intend to go fully behind the paywall,” he explains.

“Businesses should be more thoughtful and strategic about the most viable options to replace third-party cookies by conducting due diligence, which can help move the entire digital advertising industry toward a better value exchange with consumers.”

Martech Future of Media First Party Data

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