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Marketing Data & Privacy Data

The 4 biggest data challenges facing digital marketing

By Ben Savva | Senior Digital Campaign Manager



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July 28, 2023 | 7 min read

From cookie deprecation to pressures from AI, there’s a lot for dataheads to worry about. Here, Ben Savva of Earnest details the 4 biggest worries – and how marketers are handling them.

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What are marketer's 4 biggest data concerns? / Mike Kononov via Unsplash

Here’s a question currently doing the rounds in digital marketing: what is the data we’ll collect in the future going to look like, and how will we use it?

Tracking in digital marketing is undergoing significant changes due to privacy concerns and evolving technologies – with developments in UTM tracking, the impending cookieless future, shifts in analytics platforms, and more. I break out in a stress rash just thinking about it all, let alone the future reporting capabilities we will have at our disposal.

It raises many important questions for our industry: what will the future of tracking look like? Will we still be able to report on relevant and concise data? How will these changes affect ad delivery and targeting? And, finally, will AI take over?

Fortunately, there are strategies and solutions being developed to address these questions. Here’s what the answers might look like.

1. What will the future of tracking look like?

20% of users prefer Safari as a browser. But Apple iOS 17 is set to remove UTM tracking across Safari, which will be a big hit to tracking capabilities (especially considering the platforms it will affect). Additionally, the most recent stats show that mobiles are used nearly 60% of the time for online searches, with around 19% of those searches made on iPhone.

In response, Google has adjusted its tracking, with tracking parameters Gbraid and Wbraid being suggested alongside Gclid to counteract Apple privacy changes. This may be something other platforms can also get around.

Adopting privacy-centric and consent-based approaches will need to be implemented with different strategies being rolled out. One example is hashed email addresses which allow for tracking while ensuring user privacy.

2. Will we still be able to report using relevant and concise data?

Reporting on relevant and concise data may become more challenging due to these changes in tracking methods.

The granularity and accuracy of our data may be affected, potentially leading to discrepancies between recorded data and actual results. A lot of the data we will record within platform/analytics tools could be 40-50% off of actual results due to these changes, especially with GA4 data being event-based.

This data will need to be collated and deconstructed to ensure correct reporting and analysis. This again cuts everything down to key metrics, which means the days of reporting on over-complicated data may become a thing of the past.

3. How will these changes affect ad delivery and targeting?

With these new developments, targeting and delivery are going to have to evolve.

We aren’t going to be able to use the same data we once did. Although Google (recording 8.5bn searches per day), Amazon, Facebook and other big platforms will continue to record more data than anyone else, allowing them to offer targeting well above any other platform, we must look for strategies outside of our previous solutions.

Strategies that we’ll look to implement in the future include demographic and probabilistic attribution, bucketing users into particular segments to ensure correct use of budget and overall delivery. But as Raina Roberts explains, “a rethink about how we approach the challenge of reaching the right audience” is the key to moving forward.

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4. Will AI take over?

Most likely. AI algorithms can analyze complex data, identify audience segments, and optimize ad campaigns – and do so much quicker and better than we can manually. AI-powered automation can streamline processes and decision-making, allowing marketers to focus on strategy and creative aspects – the next opportunity to truly stand out.

By leveraging these capabilities, businesses can enhance the customer experience, drive conversions, and build stronger relationships with audiences.

What should you be doing?

First, ensure that your conversion tracking and key conversions are set up correctly and highlighted across the business. To ensure AI can continue to learn correctly, conversions must push through relevant information and data at a high rate.

Second, make sure your strategies are adjusted to fit these new changes by (for example) setting up contextual targeting and delivering content of a higher quality.

And third, use AI and adapt with it to ensure the data that’s collected is used in the best way to deliver stronger results.

Digital marketing is always changing (which is what makes it fun, right?). All of these recent changes push us back to the basics. My focus is on rigorous testing and ensuring that the data that we do collect is as relevant and concise as possible.

Marketing Data & Privacy Data

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Earnest is the award-winning B2B marketing agency that’s chasing out the humdrum in London and New York.

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