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Retailers need to respect consumer privacy or pay the price

by Jennifer Yeadon

June 23, 2021

We’re coming to the end of an era – the data free-for-all era, where marketers could use any means possible to track and target consumers with zero regard for how it made them feel. Right now, as we watch monolithic tech companies shift their entire models to fall in line with privacy regulations and consumer privacy desires, it’s time for retail marketers to shift with them, to a better way of connecting with consumers.

You can’t fake knowing who your consumers are

It used to be that Facebook, Google, or third-party integrations would let you personalize campaigns at scale. Marketers could splash their ads and campaigns in front of their intended audience, but they would never have to really know that audience because these platforms did it for them. Now, with the depreciation of the third-party cookie, the blocking of tracking on iOS 14, and other privacy-related actions, it’s time for retail marketers to take charge of their futures by owning their own data.

How the value exchange plays into this strategy

Here’s what Google is advising – know your consumer. In fact, it has recommended that all marketers start building out their own first-party databases and will support those that do. The International Advertising Bureau (IAB) is telling marketers to build these relationships using a value exchange.

What’s a value exchange? Simply put, it’s offering consumers something in exchange for their data – data that you can then use to build out campaigns that appeal to that individual alone. This includes sharing special offers, personalized discounts, exclusive access, and more. It goes beyond simply gathering every data point – it’s intentional and done with respect and openness to the consumer about how and when their data will be used (this collected data is known as zero-party data).

The technology to do this is readily available, either through “experience” platforms that make it easy to collect, parse and integrate data into campaigns, or through a loyalty program that wraps up the data-gathering and rewarding engagement into one platform.

Cheetah Digital’s Customer Engagement Suite (CES) is a tool that puts the value exchange at the heart of its customer engagement strategy. It helps marketers to manage every stage of the customer lifecycle, while sitting atop, and being fed by, a Customer Data Platform (CDP). It offers an Experiences platform, a Messaging platform, a Loyalty platform, and a Personalisation platform all seamlessly integrated to help you understand who your customers are, and gives marketers the tools to connect with consumers at the moment it matters most. It’s the tool that puts data ownership in the hands of the brand marketer instead of third parties.

What if retail marketers don’t change their strategies?

Retail marketers have an abundance of data and they’re some of the best candidates to start collecting the zero-party data that can come from offering a value exchange. They’ve got one of the most engaged audiences – it’s simply a matter of marketers tapping into their existing connections.

Or, they can continue to try and passively work with the walled gardens of third-party platforms. They can sit back as consumers grow tired and fed up with being tracked and snooped on across the internet. They can watch as tech companies and privacy regulations make their current third-party databases obsolete and irrelevant. They can fade into the obscurity of the likes of Sears and RadioShack.

The savviest retail marketers, however, will see this as an opportunity ripe for change. They will digitally transform their data strategies, refocusing their efforts into gathering data and building campaigns that grow their relationships with consumers, because those relationships are what matter. They’re also what will carry brands through the next wild and unpredictable shift in marketing practices.

What does it take to implement a zero-party data strategy? Learn more in The Zero-Party Data Playbook.


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