Data frugality: doing better with less

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For almost two decades now, the digitalization of consumers’ habits and consumption patterns has resulted in an unprecedented data collection. Any data was good data for advertisers who were afraid of falling behind and becoming irrelevant if they didn’t have enough. In this frantic race for more, the industry seems to have lost sight of what matters most: the consumers themselves. And they are now reminding us that the ball is in their court and that things need to change.

Consumers no longer wish to give unlimited access to their information, especially as brands don’t actually need it to deliver their advertising. Instead, they should engage audiences through a more appropriate advertising etiquette, and put data frugality at the heart of their actions by using the least amount of data possible to fulfill their objectives.

This new consumer stance will require us to change our ways and adapt to meet their expectations. Third-party cookies have been our go-to until now, with many using them to collect as much consumer data as possible ‘just in case’ and deliver personalized ads to customers. But the truth of the matter is that many third-party cookie-derived audiences are neither accurate nor really insightful, which translates into a lot of work for too little rewards. As the saying goes, and as consumers have been repeatedly pointing out, quality should always come before quantity.

One thing that will help us move in the right direction is implementing a stricter discipline in the way data is weighed and collected. There’s a need to be more thorough when it comes to assessing data quality, and only use information that is recent or rare, completely reliable and with benefits that far outweigh its associated costs. Instead of only relying on data provided by the walled gardens, the focus should move towards acquiring specific quality data that matches each advertiser’s own interests and can provide key insights into consumer behavior. It’s only by taking a more proactive and structured approach to data harvesting that we will get the most value out of it, without having to sift through irrelevant information. This would also make our lives a lot easier when it comes to complying with privacy-focused regulations such as GDPR, CCPA, CPRA, etc.

With the industry’s ongoing shift to a world without either cookies or IDFA, it is essential to properly redefine the role played by data in marketing and how data frugality can be critical to a better, data-friendly advertising. We all need to make a concerted effort to commit to data utility and only collect information that is pivotal to meeting brand objectives. Let’s no longer collect data for the sake of collecting data, and focus only on relevant information that will meaningfully impact business results.

It’s not a joke, less can be more. By leveraging first-party data combined with advanced contextual and location targeting for example, we will still be able to deliver relevant advertising that will engage with our audiences. We must fully embrace our responsibility towards them and champion data frugality as a way of respecting their privacy. Consumers have spoken, it’s now time for us to show them that we got their message, loud and clear.

by Augustin Amann, chief product officer at S4M