The Drum Awards Festival - Official Deadline

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By Thomas Hobbs, Journalist

January 30, 2020 | 5 min read

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The brands that look at Google getting rid of cookies as an opportunity to start to improve their understanding of first party data will be best placed to win in the 2020s. This was one of the unifying messages at The Drum’s Predictions 2020 event in New York last week, as marketers weighed up how Google’s announcement will force marketers to evolve.

“What’s happening with cookies is a huge opportunity for brands and marketers,” urged Tom Stein, chairman and chief client officer at Stein IAS. “And I think that opportunity comes from mastering first party data and really turning it into a competitive advantage.

Francesco Petruzzelli, chief technology officer at Bidstack, agreed with Stein’s assessment, and said one of the biggest issues is brands still taking a lot of first party data, but not turning it into experiences that really enrich their consumers’ lives. “When AI and too many bots get involved with first party data streams everything becomes skewed, so ensuring as a marketer that your first party data is clean is important; it means you can ensure you’re really taking time to understand your consumers and not just reaching them with pointless information that doesn’t have that human touch.”

According to Kris Tait, US managing director at Croud, avoiding the kind of “pointless information” Petruzzelli had referred to was all about offering contextual upgrades to consumers so they know their data is resulting in a tangible reward. “Consumers want to give their data in exchange for something tangible,” he said. “So you might be at a concert and get an upgraded seat, or you might get a free beauty product at an event; there needs to be that value exchange! Doing more contextual marketing is so important if you want to stay ahead of your rivals.”

Time for an industry reform?

However, Lauren Cooke, director of commercial partnerships at White Ops, believes that the marketing industry first needs to get it act together, if all these kind of hopes will actually be realized. “Will this finally be the year that we clean up our act?,” she cautioned. “I would say around 25 years ago people were having these exact same discussions about data and privacy, and what constitutes as inappropriate value exchanges with consumers. Well, it was bad then and it’s got a lot worse now! I don't think we're anywhere close to the solving this stuff.”

She added: “I think the intent is there, but giving up data is still very hard for marketers to do as it's so valuable. They still can’t work out whether effectiveness or making money should be prioritised. These questions need to be answered before marketers can really push on and start using first party data intelligently.”

Finding new ways to look at your data

Speaking on a panel later in the day, Danit Aronson, chief partnership officer at CSM, talked about her experiences putting on events for big brands and how this taught her a different way of looking at data. She explained: “I've been in the industry for a long time and we're just seeing how important it is to leverage events to achieve a human connection, and to capture data for a brand and to really own it.

“At an event we're able to measure how long people are interacting in every different area and then taking that to learn what is appealing to our consumer and where they're engaged. Then, in the future, we can optimize those events to really lean more into what we're seeing is working well. It’s a good example of how to use the data you pick up on consumers honourably. If consumers can see you’re using it to help them then they’re much more likely to give you their consent.”

Yet looking ahead, Jed Meyer, managing director at Ebiquity, advised marketers to stop thinking with a ‘one size fits all’ mindset. He believes adaptability will be the key to success in the decade ahead. He concluded: “So many brands want third party measure that cut across the whole landscape, but in today's world, testing isn't usually a one and done type of system.

“A company has to keep improving, and not all companies are set up for that. So, in the 2020s, I think more and more companies will embrace an environment of testing and this idea that they need to keep evolving their data strategies.”

Watch the video to see the top trends in 2020 and beyond.

The speakers include Francesco Petruzzelli, Bidstack chief technology officer; Jed Meyer, managing director at Ebiquity North America; Lauren Cooke, director of commercial partnerships at White Ops; Danit Aronson, chief partnership officer at CSM; Kris Tait, Croud's managing director US; Tom Stein, chairman and chief client officer at Stein IAS; Chris Apostle, iCrossing's chief media officer and Melissa DiGeronimo, associate director, solutions engineer, data strategy at Hearst Magazines.

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