Brands are now expected to deal with personal data on the individual's terms, which means they need to adapt their digital marketing approach, but this also creates an opportunity to reappraise the role digital can play.
28 February 2023
Today's brands face a tough task: to drive continuous improvements in marketing performance in a world where personal data is less available and consumers have ever-increasing expectations around privacy.
Privacy and data protection regulations have recently given people greater choice around sharing personal data with brands. Technology companies have also begun to require opt-ins before consumers’ personal data is shared, while third-party cookies are being phased out, preventing the tracking of online behaviour.
While some marketers may see this as a loss of consumer insight, the shift has driven companies to reconsider their approach — opening up more robust ways to collect data while adhering to evolving privacy norms.
It was in this context that Meta’s VP of business product marketing, Goksu Nebol-Perlman, hosted a panel of digital marketers from Lloyds Bank, Pandora and EssenceMediacom at the Meta Marketing Summit EMEA 2023 earlier this month. The discussion ranged from how brands are upholding consumers' privacy rights online to how they are adapting their digital strategies, ensuring they can not only trust their data but also use it most effectively throughout the marketing funnel.
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By Albert Abello Lozano, head of automation, Treatwell
How data privacy gives digital marketing a new purpose
As consumers become more aware of their data rights and require brands to engage on their terms, advertisers need to reconsider their approach to gaining marketing consent.
For Pandora’s global paid social manager, Kasper Moll, the key to ethical data collection is to do it when it is necessary and adds value by improving the customer journey.
“We only collect data if it creates a big uplift for Pandora and creates a better user experience for our consumers and potential customers,” he says. “That’s the trade-off we always evaluate.”
According to Nic Travis, head of digital marketing at Lloyds Banking Group, this means understanding when it is the right time to ask, as well as explaining why it is necessary and the value exchange behind it. The bank changed its approach recently, he said, because it wanted to avoid the appearance that it was a "box-ticking" exercise for the brand.
“When a customer is out of the product application journey, and downloading our app, we deemed that's the right context for permission,” he explained. “It’s then a relationship journey rather than a purchase journey. It becomes: 'How can I get the most out of this product that I bought? How can I get the most out of this service?' And therefore, asking for consent to deliver personalised advertising in that context is the appropriate place. We've seen very high opt-in rates from that approach.”
Ethics at heart of marketing consent
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Trust, optimisation and efficiency
Given the principle of data minimisation and the deprecation of third-party cookies, marketing teams need new ways to show the incremental gains from their activity, given they rarely have a full picture of a customer’s path to purchase. A key tactic here is to integrate the brand’s first-party data anonymously with an ad platform’s API, which enables marketers to understand how customers convert to a sale without compromising their privacy.
Meta’s Goksu Nebol-Perlman explained that with the platform’s Conversions API (CAPI), for example, brands can set up “a direct, reliable connection” between their own server and Meta’s systems. “This enables you to be less reliant on browser-based technology.”
Lloyd’s Nic Travis agreed that using API technology is now “table stakes” for getting a reliable picture of customer behaviour, given many customer journeys can no longer be tracked. “There's only so much modelling can get right,” he cautioned, arguing it brings confidence when platform data can be matched to actual sales data. “We've seen a huge success in the conversion lift studies that we've run after putting in CAPI.”
Pandora’s Kasper Moll added that the benefits of API technology are tangible enough to justify the investment in first-party data infrastructure: “If I were at a brand where we didn't have it in place, I would certainly make a business case for it,” he said. “And that's fairly easy when you get the average uplift that we see from getting it in place. The business value is there, and quite apparent.”
He emphasised that Pandora sells around 280,000 items of jewellery per day, so it uses CAPI “triangulate” insights from multiple data points, as well as to optimise advertising campaigns.
“I want to have a good connection between real-life [sales] numbers and in-platform [conversion data]. If they are in sync, then I can trust [the performance of the ads] we buy on the platform. We can then use two approaches to personalisation.
“In one, we utilise all the data we have to build our own audiences and lookalikes, and then build a journey that we believe will work. The second approach is allowing the [ad platform's machine learning] system to do it for us. So, we have a lot of dynamic creative and we allow the system to decide what will work best. I think the future for performance marketing is the right balance between the two.”
Find out more about the Meta Conversions API here
Moll believes brands should be upbeat about data signals from consumers' digital activity becoming less available, and get back to the fundamentals of marketing throughout the funnel rather than becoming fixated on treating digital channels as conversion opportunities.
“It's a blessing in disguise because, looking back a few years, we've been very performance-driven and maybe use vanity metrics to optimise conversions,” he said. “Now we are forced back to what’s way more healthy for marketing, to be a bit broader in approach and get new consumers into that famous funnel that we all work towards.”
This shift to giving digital marketing a role throughout the full funnel is also happening at Lloyds, said Travis. The group’s approach is not to focus solely on conversion but to drive awareness and consideration of its products throughout the user journey. For this to be effective, Lloyd's is taking a data-driven approach to selecting the right messaging for the right part of their journey.
“We want to make sure our consumers understand the depth and the breadth of our product offering and to do that we need to get beyond broadcast media,” he said. “Our focus is on generating great creative at scale, using different formats in more channels and making sure we personalise those messages so they are relevant to the customers' various life stages, regions or different kinds of demographics. We then need to make sure we can measure marketing effectiveness through the full funnel. That's a really key point for us.”
Full funnel, not just conversions
Future is teamwork and first-party data
Today’s increasingly privacy-focused environment will undoubtedly continue to define the advertising industry’s evolution. According to Marc Sharp, global head of social practice at EssenceMediacom, the big trend for the future is advertisers bringing together executives from different departments, so they can double down on first-party data as an enabler to unlock measures of different audience groups’ lifetime value.
“Data has become more strategic for all clients, in every vertical and region,” he summed up. “So investment in data is crucial. From a brand or agency point of view, measurement is going to become much more holistic as cookies are deprecated.
"However, this is an opportunity to move beyond optimising short-term metrics of a single sale or conversion; we can look at longer-term effects of our media through lifetime value. Ultimately, through data strategy, we'll be able to make long-term business metrics actionable in real time.”
Meta’s Goksu Nebol-Perlman ended the discussion with an observation that there is clearly “no one-size-fits-all” approach. Brands must commit to constant testing and learning, she summarised, as they evolve strategies to deliver performance on people’s terms.■
Click here to watch the Meta Marketing Summit EMEA session in full
— Kasper Moll, Pandora
“We only collect data if it creates
a big uplift for Pandora and creates a better user experience for our consumers.”