By the end of 2023, Chrome will follow the lead of Safari and Firefox and stop enabling third-party cookies. Cross-site tracking will only be possible on one browser in 10 and the foundations of current online ad targeting will be taken away.
As a result, marketers are focusing more and more on the data they collect from their own customer interactions and how they can leverage that with partners. But this process is revealing a series of gaps in trust between the various stakeholders; not just between the company and its partners or between the company and its customers, but within the company itself.
“It’s becoming more and more important for brands to prepare for a future where they need to create a unified view of their customer without access to any third-party data,” explains Vihan Sharma, managing director for Europe at data connectivity platform provider LiveRamp. “Therefore, data collaboration with partners becomes key. The role of technology in this situation is to reduce the barriers to collaboration.”
The scale of the trust problem was illustrated in a recent roundtable on the subject run by The Drum in collaboration with LiveRamp. One of the participants, Hemant Chauhan, global lead for marketing innovation and partnerships at HP, explains that his discussions around collaboration with HP’s retail partners are 80% about legal issues and only 20% about data science.
As Sharma points out, third-party cookies are being barred to meet consumers’ demands for greater privacy, but those same consumers still expect the same high-quality experience from the brands they interact with.
“For brands to do that, they need multiple types of external collaboration,” Sharma says. “One is with the publishers. So, you need to be able to partner with the likes of the Financial Times, which has great first-party data, to get access to that level of insight. Similarly, if you sell through channel partners, then in order to understand your customers’ buying behavior, you need to be able to collaborate with those providers that give you access to the last mile of the customer journey.
“So, first, you need to build your first-party data foundations. Second, build your partnerships to provide a better customer experience. The third step is to manage the convergence of media channels to make sure that customer experience is coherent and you’re making the best use of your media investment.”
Collaboration begins at home
The biggest barrier to establishing a first-party data asset is often knowing what data the company already has and where it lives within the enterprise. Legacy systems and incompatible technologies contribute to the problem, but even more significant is the impact of siloed organizations and personal fiefdoms within the business. Different departments own different datasets and many feel that relinquishing control of that data can reduce their own importance in the business.
“The best way to do this intra-company collaboration is to ensure that the data stays in the control of the people who own it,” Sharma says. “It doesn’t need to move. You can make sure the people who own the data within the company can choose how that data is leveraged. That way they’ll feel less concerned and more likely to collaborate.”
This is part of the role of data collaboration technology — allowing data owners to set the parameters for how the data they share can be used. These rules can be applied exactly the same way to partnerships with other organizations.
“The reason there are so many legal requirements is because you don’t really control anything once you send your data to somebody,” Sharma explains. “You want to be able to guarantee your data isn’t misused, that it’s used only in your interest. So, if you don’t fully trust your partner – which is the case in a lot of these instances – you need to ensure that legal covers your back. However, if you have a technology that makes it easy for companies to apply their legal boundaries to a particular collaboration, then it becomes easier.”
Trust generates value
This, in turn, helps bridge the final trust gap, the one between the company and its customers. If a brand can control what customer data can be used by its partners and how, at a highly granular level, the chance of its customers’ trust being breached is greatly reduced. Those customers will be more confident about sharing more data, creating more value for the brand and improving the quality of the experience they receive.
And at a time when customer experience quality is both an increasing source of brand differentiation and increasingly hard to deliver, securing and controlling your first-party data is more important than ever.