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Grab Future of Media Data & Privacy

How will GrabAds use its first-party data in a post-cookie world?


By Shawn Lim, Reporter, Asia Pacific

June 28, 2021 | 6 min read

Grab is continuing to boost the capabilities of its advertising offering to support the needs of brands and marketers at scale in a post-cookie world. The Drum finds out more about Grab's plans as the industry moves towards a privacy-first model.

With the impending death of the cookie, albeit now delayed by Google, brands will have to find new ways to reach, engage and move their audiences to action. At the same time, the need to provide more personalised, relevant customer experiences is still crucial to ad success, forcing brands and marketers to pay attention to where their data is sourced from.

Some publishers have thrown their weight behind the Unified ID 2.0, an identity solution being built by The Trade Desk, while other players in the industry have also launched solutions.

In a post-cookie world, Singapore-based super app Grab has the ability to harness first-party data from within its ecosystem to get a rich view of consumer habits and preferences.

Ken Mandel, regional managing director for GrabAds and Brand Insights at Grab explains the platform’s near-real-time first-party data will “empower businesses to creatively reach, engage and move consumers to action across the funnel”.

For example, an air freshener brand can target consumers who bought durians via an ad; or a health foods brand can target consumers with a high frequency of visits to a gym via Grab’s mobility services with a complementary ad.

“Today, GrabAds offers both standardised and custom audience segments that leverage first-party data on Grab, including demographics, interests, product categories and more. We also help brands target upsell and cross-sell via complementary advertising based on the strength of our first-party data,” he explains.

In terms of how the company may work with the wider industry on identity solutions, he shares, “On Unified ID 2.0, we are keeping a close eye on how the model develops. We are also keen to understand how the Unified ID 2.0 can enable a seamless journey and enable a positive experience for consumers while striking a good balance between privacy and openness.”

“And while all that is happening, we continue to look at ways where we can help brands and businesses reach their consumers with greater precision and relevance. We will also iterate our advertising offerings to address brands and marketers’ requirements to help them deliver more personalised experiences to consumers.”

What is Grab’s data privacy framework?

In the meantime, Grab will continue to build on its technology, product and commercialisation capabilities of its advertising offerings to support the needs of brands and marketers at scale in a post-cookie world

Mandel claims the platform has in place a clear consent framework surrounding the collection and use of data because Grab takes data protection and its users’ privacy “very seriously”, and do not sell or provide Grab users’ data to others.

“Grab’s data privacy framework for our app includes notification and obtaining consent. We aim to notify and obtain the consent of our users and partners when we collect their personal data and we inform them of what we would be doing with their personal data,” he explains.

“We also seek to provide and implement reasonable security arrangements to protect personal data in terms of protection and safe custody of personal data. This includes physical access controls and logical access controls to personal data, for example.”

What’s next for GrabAds?

With the pandemic disrupting business and marketing models, Mandel says Grab is focused on supporting economic recovery for businesses across South East Asia.

Beyond helping businesses of all sizes establish an online presence and build their omnichannel strategy, it has also been working with them to reach South East Asian consumers at scale through innovative advertising and joint marketing campaigns.

A recent campaign Grab worked on was with Unilever’s Knorr in the Philippines to drive consumer awareness, to consideration, through to purchase for their range of products.

“With more people staying at home more, Knorr wanted to encourage consumers to incorporate their products into their home cooking. Grab worked with them to display recipes of popular dishes as an ad on the Grab homepage, which consumers can click through to view the recipe details, before continuing the journey to GrabMart to purchase the ingredients,” he explains.

“The ingredients were automatically populated, allowing consumers to easily add them by simply checking the ingredients that they need to make that particular recipe with everything conveniently delivered to their door. This is a great example of how we can help brands compress the marketing funnel, help them go from awareness to conversion efficiently, and closing the loop to drive business impact.”

To boost its capabilities to reach SEA consumers at scale, Grab recently added industry veterans David Baser, Ashu Mathura, Margaret Chang and Dave Yang to Mandel’s team.

Baser was formerly from Facebook, where he helped launched Instagram’s self-service ads product and growing the Facebook Pages platform to support business transactions. Baser will become Grab’s head of advertising and personalisation technology.

Mathura joins as Grab’s head of product for ads and will drive Grab’s advertising product strategy and the expansion of Grab’s suite of marketing solutions. Chang will focus on the development of GrabAds’ self-serve solutions to equip small and mid-sized businesses in SEA as the regional head of SMB for GrabAds.

Yang, as the regional head of direct sales organisation for GrabAds, will work on deepening Grab’s partnerships with brands and advertisers.

“Our GrabAds business is growing well. From April to May, we have seen a 55% increase in SMBs leveraging GrabAds. With Baser, Mathura, Chang and Yang coming on board, this will enhance the ability for us to build on our technology, product and commercialisation capabilities,” explains Mandel.

“We are definitely looking at how we can further expand our product capabilities across the Grab ecosystem, online and offline, to help brands and marketers reach, engage and drive consumers to action at scale.”

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