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160over90 on retargeting audiences using influencer marketing and strategic paid strategies once third-party cookies disappear

Media people and marketers have been spoiled by data. The ability to find any audience through third-party data segments, and activate against them, has made traditional media planning around an audience seem almost quaint. But this is about to change.

The already-implemented changes with the new iOS15 operating system has ushered in a wave of privacy for users, and some estimates are that a third (or less!) of users will allow in-app tracing in this new system. Marry this with an impending change in the Google advertising ecosystem, which will do away with third-party cookies used for targeting, and the ability to identify and track users becomes much more difficult. While there are a handful of short-term solutions, or one-off ‘fixes,’ the reality is that privacy is something that consumers want and deserve, and marketers will need to adapt to find new ways to connect with audiences, while relying less on data.

Before the advent of consumer data-rich platforms, paid media would define a target audience in excruciating detail, learn about every facet of their media consumption life, and find ways to align with that consumption in a contextually relevant environment. This is what we referred to as the ‘craft’ of media. With the proliferation of audience data at our fingertips in digital platforms, there was no need to get into those details – we simply selected the audience we needed and started spending. And while some solutions will end up being available, we believe that there will be two areas that will become more important in formulating effective campaigns:

  1. Contextually relevant media: we’re going to need to get old school, embrace our craft and go back to finding actual content that resonates with our target audience and the environments that they frequent based on our research.

  2. Influencers’ audience alignment: paid social advertising is quickly becoming the commercial breaks of social networks, and to find contextual relevance in these channels, influencers can provide alignment that resonates.

So if our new goal is to align with contextual environments, how do we handle social media? Sure, we can still target by interest, but how can we really make an impact, and bring our brand to life within what is essentially a massive chat room? Influencers have a built-in audience, and can take our brands and put them into the context that we’re looking for. Essentially, influencers become the content that we’re aligning with. The newsfeed is not content, it’s conversation. In a similar fashion to TV advertising, we’re relying on interrupting to capture eyeballs in the newsfeed, but with influencers we’re integrating into the ‘program.’

We all know the importance of influencers driving top-funnel awareness, but how about thinking about influencers and their impact on lower-funnel activity? Per YouGov data, 11% of people who see an influencer on various social platforms promoting a product go on to buy that product. 53% of them take an action of some sort (such as visiting the website of the product.) Those are pretty good numbers, but what if we could supercharge that even more?

We can! We can apply influencer marketing to programmatic retargeting and continue to drive consumers down-funnel. With the ability to retarget audiences exposed to white-listed content, we can continue to move them toward purchase. Done right, influencer marketing paired with strategic paid strategies may just be the key to a cookie-less future.

Chris Ebmeyer, vice-president, director of media services at 160over90, with editorial input from Derek Goode, vice-president, group director of influence marketing.

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