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Top agency execs on helping clients navigate Apple’s iOS 14.5 privacy changes

To many marketers, Apple’s privacy updates present a maze of new challenges

Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) framework, which debuted with the recent launch of iOS 14.5, has put users in the driver’s seat of their own data. It’s also made things trickier for ad targeting and measurement. Six agency leaders spell out the strategies they’re applying to help clients navigate these new challenges.

It’s been nearly a month since Apple officially rolled out its operating system update, iOS 14.5, complete with a new privacy framework designed to give users greater say in how apps use their data and track their activity online. Those who have updated their devices are now met with a pop-up notification upon launching an app that asks if the user would like the app in question to track their activity across other apps and websites.

The elevated control for users has, in some ways, come at the cost of advertisers, who lose access to valuable data that enables personalized advertising when users opt out. Many marketers are scrambling to find effective ways to incentivize opt-ins and are experimenting with novel ways by which to gain access to first-, second- and third-party data.

Agencies tasked with helping clients optimize and execute on advertising strategies now face new hurdles in doing so. Here’s how agencies are working to equip clients with the tools they need to succeed in the wake of this sea change.

Reimagining data strategies

Jess Simpson, senior vice-president of global identity and technology, Publicis Media

The entire industry is going to have to be comfortable making decisions with less data. Less data doesn’t mean bad data, but it does mean more fluid data. So, think about how you pull together a 3D measurement strategy and pyramid approach to identity that incorporates accuracy and scale, and a solid strategy that sits alongside whatever technology you choose to invest in.

Tim Maleeny, president and chief strategy officer, Havas

A fair exchange for first-party data in return for a better user experience, access to valuable content or discounts is a much more honest relationship with your customers than harvesting their data without their knowledge. There are many ways to track ecosystem data to approximate a target audience’s online habits, but taking the more meaningful approach of an open exchange – in other words, placing a value on customers’ data – is where this is all headed.

Clients need to remember that a compelling brand with great content will attract users who are more than willing to share their first-party data. The industry approach to data has been designed around stalking customers, not respecting them, so these privacy changes will put more pressure on brands to deliver meaningful content to customers and prospects if they want to remain relevant.

Nathan Hugenberger, chief technology officer and executive vice-president, Known

We are helping clients to take more control of their advertising intelligence. If before, an advertiser might have been inclined to just let a black box platform figure out what works, that now seems risky. It is better if the client actively knows and learns what really works and what their target audiences truly should be.

We have been helping clients use data and scientific experimentation to create a continuous learning flywheel. Some clients are employing highly actionable segmentation research so that they can specifically set target audiences that they know will respond well to the advertising. For clients who want to measure ROI and return on ad spend, we’re running more experiments and employing geo-testing hold outs and other methods to get truly scientific reads on impact. We are also designing campaigns to enable more cross-channel learning so that the system learns as fast as possible.

Over the longer-term horizon, these privacy and iOS changes highlight the importance of having a robust first-party data strategy, including thinking about how these privacy-driven changes in the marketing ecosystem may mean you need to rethink many different things in your business. Clearly any client that can should be using offline conversions and first-party CRM data wherever possible. That drives a need for technology enablement, and our data science and data engineering teams have been working with clients to make that possible.

Sara Stevens, vice-president of digital capabilities, Epsilon

Marketers need to embrace privacy-centric, first-party data-driven solutions that can reach across the ecosystem to speak to their customers. These solutions must be connected to the publishers who have a vested interest in maintaining a deep relationship with consumers on their sites. We are working with marketers to activate their data in a privacy-safe way and leverage these assets to continue delivering personalized ads that can be measured downstream. We are also helping marketers avoid erosion of their data, which can happen as data travels from one provider to another, and drive efficiency in their campaigns.

Considering the role of new ID solutions

Nathan Hugenberger, chief technology officer and executive vice-president, Known

We expect a continued struggle between Google and universal identifiers like Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0. While the latter can in theory address the functionality gap left by the death of the third-party cookie, [it and others like it] will face scale challenges, as they are reliant upon user consent and broad adoption by publishers. Google’s Privacy Sandbox will likely achieve broader scale, but there are additional gaps in functionality. Instead of trying to pick a product or winner at this point, marketers should pick a posture. They should approach this disruption with agility, constant testing and learning and an open mind.

Shruti Tiwari, executive director of integrated media, Ogilvy

Data partners and publishers will focus [more] on people-based targeting. Third-party data providers have been preparing for this shift away from cookies for the past few years, enriching their audience data with first-party information like postal addresses, email addresses and mobile ad IDs. There will be an increased number of technology providers and publishers that are rushing to entice audiences to sign up so they can capture identifiers and contact points.

Sara Stevens, vice-president of digital capabilities, Epsilon

We’re expanding the availability of [our ID solution] beyond our own platforms to create connected identity on the open web, built around each individual. This approach ensures that marketers can still activate, personalize and measure campaigns at scale while respecting consumers’ privacy and helping publishers monetize their audiences.

Jess Simpson, senior vice-president of global identity and technology, Publicis Media

I have become quite fascinated with the concept of decentralized identity in marketing. I am starting to see this more and more as companies build solutions that monetize on consumers’ attention spans and build an ‘internet of value’ that allows consumers to store pieces of their identity in digital wallets and choose what, how and when to share that information and with whom, in exchange for either NFTs, crypto or monetary compensation.

Experimenting with new (and old) approaches

Alyssa Applegate, associate media director of social, Ogilvy

We have been thinking through ways to restructure upcoming campaigns and how we go to market so we will be less impacted by these changes and find the right digital spaces for us to use for reaching our targets. This includes using different third-party audience partners, testing digital channels our clients may not have yet explored, and evaluating our creative ideas more closely to ensure they will break through the noise and resonate with our key audiences.

Nathan Hugenberger, chief technology officer and executive vice-president, Known

This may be a good time to re-evaluate your channel mix to test out new channels or increase. We expect continued growth in spend on connected TV, as it is less affected by these changes at the moment and continues to gain viewership. We also expect that privacy-driven changes in measurement in digital may cause some brands to take a second look at traditional channels.

Jess Simpson, senior vice-president of global identity and technology, Publicis Media

The ecosystem is quite literally changing weekly. There are very few industry standards in place that set a precedent on what solutions will rise to the top and so now is the time to educate yourself on how to diversify your marketing mix and optimize both your media and technology investments.

Shruti Tiwari, executive director of integrated media, Ogilvy

Without the ability to track individuals across the internet, brands won’t be able to identify and harvest high intent audiences with bottom-of-the-funnel, conversion-focused campaigns. Contextual targeting will force a rethink of the role of digital creative.

Evaluating the role of the duopoly

Shruti Tiwari, executive director of integrated media, Ogilvy

Google’s move to remove cookies from Chrome firmly entrenches the strength of their advertising and data ecosystem. The Facebook and Google duopoly will continue to extend their dominance as turnkey platforms where brands can create highly trustworthy, data-informed audiences and retarget them. This will undoubtedly come at a premium and increased reliance on walled gardens.

Sara Stevens, vice-president of digital capabilities, Epsilon

While the concept of walled gardens has been around for some time, we will see some of the traditional walls get higher. Marketers should be thinking about how they will manage their budgets across the open web versus the walled gardens. My belief is that the open web is good for all and drives not only collaboration but innovation that creates new opportunities.

Tim Maleeny, president and chief strategy officer, Havas

The new restrictions put a real dent in the business model of platforms like Facebook, but it’s good news for consumers who want their privacy back, and it puts a premium on first-party data for clients who are genuinely focused on building a better customer experience.

Nathan Hugenberger, chief technology officer and executive vice-president, Known

In the short term there are things you can do to better navigate the iOS 14.5 changes on platforms like Facebook. We’ve been working closely with clients to consolidate the types of conversion actions in an intelligent, strategic manner. This allows our campaigns to continue to optimize towards distinct goals, despite having a limited total number of conversion events going forward.

We are also working with our clients to optimize the attribution waterfall so that it reflects what the true priority of conversion events are. You really need to customize these to the particular nuances of the brand and the campaign. We are also using first-party data and offline conversions as much as possible.

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