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Data collaboration - the powerful path towards maximizing marketing & enterprise innovation

By Ian Darby, journalist

November 2, 2023 | 9 min read

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As first-party data becomes a business necessity, leaders from Albertsons and LiveRamp affirm why the ecosystem must now extend data’s value through strategic partnerships.

Innovation inspired by data collaboration: what we learned from Advertising Week NY

Jessica Shapiro, CMO at LiveRamp & Evan Hovorka, VP of Product & Innovation at Albertsons Media Collective

The clock is ticking on third-party cookies, IP addresses and mobile identifiers, driving increased urgency for brands to find more sustainable ways to reach authenticated audiences at scale – a point highlighted during LiveRamp’s Advertising Week New York (AWNY) session, ‘Is the End Near? Signal Loss is 6,000 Hours Away’.

This change will require new approaches to gathering first-party data, such as using identity resolution to unify fragmented data sources to create a more complete portrait of customers, or collaborating with partners to gain powerful customer insights they otherwise wouldn’t have access to.

Travis Clinger, senior vice-president, activations & addressability at LiveRamp, described a near-future where collaboration will be table stakes. “There’s not going to be one post-signal identity. There are going to be multiple identities out there and they should all be interoperable.” Without one “silver bullet” identifier to rule them all, businesses should seek solutions – such as RampID – that can offer an identity spine enabling advertisers to connect across the ecosystem and understand advertising impact.

The sense of urgency is intensifying as the industry recognizes the true value of first-party data and how data collaboration can multiply brand and business value in a turbulent environment of signal loss and fragmentation.

Data collaboration uses technology to combine and analyze data sets within an organization or between partners to enable a wide range of use cases, from uncovering new consumer insights to enabling accurate cross-screen measurement or brand-building media networks.

There are four ways that advertisers can embark on this journey, which were driven home by Scott Howe, LiveRamp’s chief executive officer, in his own AWNY presentation. These are: prioritize data; build collaborations; test and learn; and respect your customer.

Howe concluded: “The real value comes from collaborating with other companies, that’s where the magic is going to happen. It’s a game of musical chairs and you do not want to be the company that doesn’t have a partner when the music stops.”

Extending first-party data value through partnerships

Albertsons, the grocery retailer, is a business that recognizes the need for collaboration and has realized value already through its media network, Albertsons Media Collective. It has moved ahead of the field by developing this media network as the primary vehicle for prioritizing connection of first-party data and building collaborations.

Exploring this in greater detail were Jessica Shapiro, chief marketing officer of LiveRamp, and Evan Hovorka, vice-president, product and innovation at Albertsons Media Collective. The pair discussed how companies can use identity to break down data silos, collaborate to overcome data fragmentation, know their customers better, launch strategic partnerships, and power new business opportunities.

Albertsons has worked with LiveRamp on building its own retail media platform for more than two years now. Rich in first-party data, this provides the opportunity for CPG brands to collaborate in a secure way and to raise the bar on customer experiences in a privacy-centric way.

Hovorka described how these brands can work with Albertsons to connect their data using data clean rooms that increase data access while enforcing clear standards of control and privacy. “Companies that have location data, weather data, or a CPG who has their own app and behavior data, all have the potential to add value to this ecosystem. Retailers have a tremendous amount of shopping behavior and then less so on other things that a CPG may find valuable. So we can either co-rent that same data or just let the two experts come together and build that model in a homogenous, safe environment.”

Hovorka added that other partners such as marketing agencies also have tremendous amounts of data and insight, which makes a collaborative viewpoint essential: “We call it a ‘co-op garden’ approach to let all the experts and all of the data speak the truth. Connecting that in the clean room lets us bring the best of both sides.”

Creating a ‘win-win’ value exchange

Providing a clear value exchange to customers also emerged as one of the vital elements in closer data collaboration. Shapiro highlighted how brands can grow their first-party data by delivering something of clear value to customers in return – whether that’s in the shape of loyalty rewards, discounts, or a better experience.

Hovorka agreed: “Without that shopper feeling that they have a trusted partnership, they’re getting value, they’re getting offers and messages at the right time and in the right places, getting inspired by recipes, getting the coupons that are relevant. Without that the whole ecosystem breaks down.”

This ecosystem also benefits from a further value exchange between retailer and CPG brands. For instance, Albertsons collaborates with suppliers to create a “win-win” situation that benefits both lines of business. Hovorka described a collaborative approach that feeds the same “flywheel of safe, consented, and inspired shopping behavior. The more that data can empower that, the better that retail media can perform.”

How to get started with data collaboration was a key takeaway, with Shapiro raising the importance of reducing friction between brands and retailers. So, what does Albertsons say to these advertisers to make them feel that they are valued partners? “It really comes down to the good relationship with your merchant and media partner within the retailer. The full package of what the retailer can bring, beyond media, helps open up more ideas and concepts, and makes that media work harder when it’s aligned to merch strategy.”

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That’s realistic for larger businesses such as PepsiCo and Procter & Gamble, but what about smaller CPGs? Hovorka argued that they can use collaboration to build larger customer audiences and higher levels of transparent measurement. It’s about, he said, “having that vision of when to go deep. You lose a little bit of control as a CPG but you’re gaining access to what really is the last point of decisioning for the shopper trip. That’s where retail media is your best bet.”

Shapiro expanded: “Through data collaboration, CPGs gain a revenue stream they can optimize, driving value that is foundational to not only to the business, but also the brand.”

As a call to action, LiveRamp’s Howe emphasized the importance of an ongoing “test and learn” approach to find the right approach to data collaboration based on a business’ unique needs. In the face of signal loss, this is especially important when exploring identity solutions and frameworks like Google’s Publisher Advertiser Identity Reconciliation (PAIR). The ability to experiment with and test different tools, or combination of tools, is imperative to understand what to expect from media performance when the cookieless world becomes a reality.

This was a compelling way to end a session that delivered a clear message – data collaboration is a powerful path towards maximizing both marketing and enterprise innovation.

Learn more about how data collaboration can transform your business here.

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