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The Cookieless World - how to gain first party data in international markets

ClickThrough Marketing


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February 25, 2021 | 7 min read

Alison Booth - head of international, ClickThrough Marketing

Alison Booth - head of international, ClickThrough Marketing

The cookieless future and how to gain first party data is a topic that’s steadily becoming the main focus of the advertising industry. My colleague Macy has discussed how to approach the cookieless future previously but, being an international marketing specialist, this universal topic poses an additional challenge for me.

While approaching your domestic market for their first party data is one thing, being able to effectively identify how to apply this in international markets is another. Users in each market you operate in will have different cultural characteristics, which will influence their browsing behaviour. While this is not new information, being able to apply this knowledge to your strategy to obtain first party data is a challenge that will require thorough research.

The diversity of global markets is far too vast for one woman to cover in one article but, by conferring with ClickThrough’s Local Market Specialists (who are all based in situ) as well as reviewing Ipsos’ 2020 Global Trends Study, I’ve been able to identify the breadth of different attitudes towards first party cookies and how consumers feel about sharing their personal information.

Necessity: Italy

The main concern we’re hearing from our Italian colleagues is that brands are currently worried about approaching the change in terms of scale and are looking to partner with universal IDs providers in order to minimize scale challenges.

Prior to lockdown, online retail in Italy was in the early stages of growth, with shoppers generally preferring to buy in-store over ordering items for delivery. While Italian retailers (and customers) quickly adapted to stringent lockdown restrictions and online purchases increased, the historical lack of demand for products and services online has meant many companies feel they are not set up for big technological changes such as moving to first-party data.

But are these companies being overly concerned? Many Italian sites are currently set up in a way that users have to provide their data in order to gain access. This does not just apply to retail, but also to news and content sites too. With sites so often requiring a log in to buy items or view content, the collection of this first party data is something that they have started to prepare for. Due to this necessity in sharing data 53% of Italians are willing to share their data with online advertisers (Statista), meaning that advertisers already have the upper hand.

Similarly, when surveyed in an alternative study by Statista, 50% of Spanish users felt it essential to share data in order to buy products online. For countries such as Italy and Spain, where sharing data is starting to be perceived to be necessary, the immediate challenge will simply come in rolling out these new first party data collection techniques.

Trust: The US & Spain

Despite Spanish users feeling that it’s necessary to share their data, this doesn’t mean that they trust the companies they’re handing data over to. Nearly 60% of Spanish users will take steps to hide their tracks online and 80% of Spaniards do not trust how the police and the government uses their data. Even with the perception that data sharing is necessary to function online, to get accurate and valuable data, site owners will need to build trust with users and convince them that their data will not end up in government hands.

Similarly, in the US (an enormous market by anyone’s standards) with 50% of adults in the US thinking that the personal data they share online will be stolen and only 45% being comfortable with sharing data. We’ve witnessed a fear and suspicion of government processes from a US consumer perspective and, with the recent political polarisation, it is likely this fear of data-theft comes from a deep mistrust in sending location data directly to government, just as is the case with Spain. Though this research was conducted pre-Biden presidency, consumer perception behind what could happen to personal data will remain a barrier for US advertisers.

To overcome these challenges in the US, Spain, and in other markets with similar consumer perceptions, making it abundantly clear that data will not be shared will be key. Sites operating in these markets could find that improving communication around how information sharing is secure and will benefit users is beneficial in gathering first party data. Keep privacy notices clear, short and concise to ensure they are easy for people to digest.

Education: Germany

In Germany users are also less willing to share data. Not only do only 41% of Germans feel confident about sharing their data, less than 20% of people aged 18-25 are prepared to share their data in exchange for a reward. Simply put, where you may have tried using exclusive offers to increase email subscriptions in other markets, this isn’t a tactic that is likely to be effective in Germany. With data protection being such a high priority, obtaining trust from consumers is pivotal to developing customer relationships and expanding your customer database.

A more effective approach would be to educate users on why data sharing will lead to a better online user experience. In the French market, a considerable 58% of users understand that sharing their data provides a better browsing experience, indicating a greater awareness and trust in how cookies are being used. Building this trust in the German market could be approached through providing comprehensive information on how the data will be used, rather than rewards such as discounts and offers.

The insights provided by our German Digital Marketing Specialists indicate that the cookieless future could pose a huge challenge for both Marketers and website developers alike. Many of whom are unclear on how to ensure their websites comply with the forthcoming policies, which is creating a gap between legislation, Marketing and Web Development. Given the importance in ensuring information regarding privacy policies is communicated effectively in this market, advertisers operating in Germany will have to ensure they close this dangerous knowledge gap.

Finally, one of the biggest challenges will be for advertisers in Northern European countries where distrust is at its highest. Denmark (69%), Sweden (74%) and Finland (84%) see the highest levels of users avoiding sharing personal information online (Statista). In markets like this, advertisers will be faced with the decision of whether to pursue a potentially difficult and resource-exhausting route of changing consumer ideals or ensuring focus remains on traditional marketing techniques.

Of course, it’s worth noting that one of the most interesting parts of data sharing is that users will also be more inclined to provide personal information, if they have previously seen the benefit of personalised advertising and understand the advantages behind this data exchange. The more successful advertisers gradually become in being able to encourage users to share their data, the easier the process will become.

To help you learn more about the cookieless future, and what it means to take ownership of your users data, ClickThrough offers cookieless future deep dives, giving you bespoke recommendations based on your current set up. Find out more on our website.

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