The Drum Awards for Marketing EMEA - Awards Show

-d -h -min -sec

Regulation Data Deep Dive Social Media

How can paid social prevail in the face of data restrictions?

By Chris Robinson, Paid social director

The Goat Agency


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

Find out more

May 8, 2023 | 7 min read

As paid media marketers are faced with new data restrictions, how can they maintain effectiveness across paid social? For our data deep dive, The New Data & Privacy Playbook, Chris Robinson of Goat Agency investigates.

Man standing holding hand up to camera

Brand trust and a human touch will be key to navigating the new data rules / Nadine Shaabana

Until recently, marketers have been drunk on attribution. For a while, we could track every interaction and every bit of revenue generated, right down to the penny. Nowadays, though, attribution is becoming increasingly difficult, especially on social media. Data is either missing, delayed, or foggy and unclear.

This is great for consumers: we’ve managed to claw back some of the power over how and when our data is used by third parties. But as a social media marketer? Well, it’s a bit of a minefield.

Our job is to get the right ads in front of the right people at the right time, and then be able to report it all back to the business in order to a) prove the value of what we’re doing, and b) set out a clear pathway to future success.

So, faced with these restrictions, what should we be doing?

The need for cross-funnel marketing

Activating across the funnel on social is more vital than ever. Many brand marketers still think of social and influencers as an awareness-driving tool only, and it can still be difficult to show how impressions/engagements ladder up to overall revenue. On the other hand, some marketers are obsessed with conversions only and neglect brand-building.

People need to know that yours is a legitimate brand, what its values are, why it exists, and then be nurtured into a sale. If you take people on the journey, you’ll likely find less resistance to giving up more data.

Leveraging the first-party data you then do collect can help from a performance perspective too. Using lookalike audiences and exclusions based on the data and how you’ve segmented it can help nurture even more prospective new customers through the funnel.

The influencer channel is great for exploration as part of that process – because people buy from people, and because the power of peer-to-peer recommendations in building brand trust has been proven time and time again.

How are we getting around new restrictions?

It’s about being smarter with the information we do have available and changing the way we assess and analyze data. For example, look at data over a three-day/seven-day/30-day period – not just to be specific, but also to give context. This can then be compared with data from Google Analytics or CRM systems so that we can understand the whole journey.

Our work with Learndirect, an online education provider, is an example of this. We compared platform data, such as content performance and click-through rates (CTR), with data in the back end of their CRM to understand what the social traffic had done, how people have interacted with landing pages and forms, and what the business-relevant results were.

Third-party tools like Fospha and Triple Whale are a massive help in understanding this attribution journey in more detail. While nothing is perfect, they showcase the particular impact that influencer marketing has outside of traditional last-click attribution.

It helps that social ad platforms are leaning more into ‘algorithmic’ delivery of ads (that is, not laying loads of interests and restrictions on who can and can’t see them). They’re also letting delivery algorithms show ads to people that the system believes are most likely to convert or take action.

So, target more broadly and lean into the systems themselves.

Never going back

We’re never going back to the old ways where every bit of data was available and everyone could be tracked across the web. Now, it’s about how you lean into the new world and adapt accordingly.

Make that value-exchange core so that it’s clear why someone should give you data, and then leverage first-party data where appropriate – ensuring you’re activating across the funnel.

In paid social, leverage influencer marketing to bring a human touch to your messaging, and seek out all the tools available to give you a fuller picture of performance outside of the last click.

To read more from The Drum’s latest Deep Dive, where we’ll be demystifying data & privacy for marketers in 2023, head over to our special hub.

Regulation Data Deep Dive Social Media

Content by The Drum Network member:

The Goat Agency

We’re the leading global social media marketing agency powered by influencers. We pride ourselves in bringing together data-led performance, real human relationships,...

Find out more

More from Regulation

View all


Industry insights

View all
Add your own content +