People of Programmatic Podcast
As we rapidly approach the end of cookie-based targeting, marketers are seeking new strategies, technologies, and solutions that will enable them to reliably maximize the return on their media investments. In the programmatic world, this means putting more emphasis on contextual strategies that combine first- and third-party data with AI and dynamic creatives. This conversation will walk marketers through the biggest ramifications of the impending cookieless world as well as the recommended ways to adapt to it -- including both long-established and cutting-edge strategies.
Our 10X10 series explores the Top Ten Trends in digital media, focusing on one new topic each month throughout 2021, the year of our 10th anniversary.
Our final 10x10 topic is "the cookieless world." This emerging evolution will have a significant impact on the digital marketing world in the months and years ahead.
Divya has more than a decade of experience in digital marketing, with a focus on programmatic digital media and further expertise in stratigic consulting, product strategy, and digital marketing strategy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Business, an MBA in Finance & Strategy, and a Master's Degree in Marketing. Based out of Singapore, she's a bona fide geek who loves exploring the cutting edge of innovation while working with her team to build the next generation of digital media products on a global scale.
Head of Solutions & Innovations Strategy, Xaxis APAC
Marc Grabowski is the Global Group Vice President of the Activation Go To Market Organization under the Oracle Advertising and Customer Experience Organization.
Marc has more than two decades of experience driving sales, product, account management and operational organizations in the media and technology space.
Marc holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Political Science from Boston University and has served on various boards including Savingstar, Spring Technology, The Chicago Area Runners Association and Persio, where he also served as CEO leading the company to a successful exit in 2016.
Group VP, Global Advertising Sales
In this episode...
Whether the industry is prepared for the world of cookieless media.
How the cookieless world will impact the programmatic landscape, audiences, strategies, measurement, attribution, targeting and ROAS.
What marketers should be doing to prepare.
The effectiveness of contextual advertising.
Which piece(s) of data will become the most important in the new paradigm.
Is third-party data dead?
How can brands and marketers prepare to identify, gather, and utilize data properly?
What types of technology marketers should be investing in.
What kinds of skills are vital in the new environment?
of companies are “very prepared” for a world without third-party cookies
He believes there should be a focus on consumers, that brands must earn the right to use their data, and learn to communicate with them in a similar way to how publishers have. Many companies are already accomplishing this “through gathering true consent and building customer relationships.”
He’d like to see a focus on getting customers to opt in to emailed newsletters and other types of communication. The ultimate idea is to create what he calls “lifetime value” customers, as opposed to “single click to purchase” customers. He says reaching people to get them to buy one product shortchanges the customer experience. “Think about people in terms of how they can engage with your brand long-term and how you can support that relationship.”
Responding to the "Cookie-pocalypse"
Asked if return on ad spend is dead -- as some have posited -- Grabowski says it’s in fact the opposite: Brands should emphasize ROAS but over the long-term. He cites one brand he loves for its sense of purpose and the way it builds relationships that last. “Patagonia is an outdoor brand that focuses on the next 100 years, not [just] the next year. And they really want to be able to build a brand that's sustainable, where their customers continue to come back,” he says.
Though he doubts most brands will adopt a 100-year outlook, “I think that if we can at least get brands to have a couple of quarters outlook, that’s a movement in the right direction,” he says. He believes there will be more and more measurements, using in-store data and CRM systems to identify patterns, looking at purchase behaviors and purchase patterns over time to focus beyond individual purchases.
Is ROAS dead?
Grabowski points out that with the tens of thousands or even millions of pages created every day, using context has become more complex than ever. Today, it’s much more than looking at a page’s headline and the section of a website it’s in. Marketers must now use technology to analyze the content on an entire page, even gleaning its sentiment.
And, he notes, events that have taken place since 2020, from the pandemic to political turbulence, inspired a lot of ad blocking based on context. But now advertisers “are starting to focus more on how we can take that context of the page, understand the likelihood for users on that type of content to engage with the brand to buy,” and to “come back and buy with greater frequency,” he says. Marketers are moving from brand safety to a more nuanced level of brand suitability for their targeting strategies with context. They are even using context to inform the audience segments they target.
Grabowski believes markets can continue to use third-party audiences. “The idea of third-party cookies going away doesn't mean that third-party audiences go away.” He maintains there are still good opportunities to leverage third-party audiences with a contextual strategy. But he warns that “it's really important right now that marketers test that, as opposed to just waiting until two years from now, when third-party cookies have gone away.”
Contextual advertising now
Acharya asks Grabowski which pieces of data he thinks will become the most important in the new cookieless paradigm and how brands and marketers can prepare themselves to identify, gather and utilize data properly.
Grabowski says marketers must have a very strong first-party data strategy and understand how they can onboard data and use it in an “interoperable” way across platforms and publishers. With customer trust, brands will be able to gather more persistent IDs such as email addresses and phone numbers.
He adds that one of the reasons behind the current predicament of the industry is over-reliance on walled gardens. He believes first-party data is data that “brands have earned; it's data that the users have given them consent to utilize. So they should be able to make sure that it's portable."
Data in the new interoperable paradigm
With the new data paradigms in a cookieless ecosystem, clean rooms or data sanctuaries are going to be key, Grabowski predicts. “This is, again, an area of being able to onboard your first-party data and connect it to other companies – other entities' first-party data,” he says. He also cites the need for technology to address data portability, contextual brand safety, brand suitability, verification and measurements.
What should the new technology accomplish? Acharya asks. Grabowski says it must let brands know their ad has “the right consumer, that it's in the right context, that it is a viewable impression, and that it's a valid human impression – not bot traffic.” And, importantly – whether the ad has reached the intended audience. When technology can accomplish all of this, he says, outcomes can be measured.
The role of new technologies
Grabowski did not hesitate to say “data analytics” when asked what skillsets are needed today. Not necessarily hiring more data scientists to build AI or create more algorithms but rather people who can interpret large sets of data and bring greater layers of understanding to them. The industry needs people who can provide understanding of how the data helps an advertiser or publisher.
Organizations need to recruit and build teams that provide greater understanding of the insights to be gained from data, to capture information, filter it, and find out how to make sense of it to improve customer experience. And, of course, return on investment.
The skillsets we need
Change isn’t always predictable, Grabowski notes, citing what’s happened with human behavior during the pandemic, which greatly affected buying patterns and media consumption. Use of connected TV and podcasts spiked more than anyone thought would happen, he says. But should we fear the future? Acharya asks. “Do I think we’re all gonna be replaced by robots? I don’t think so. But I, for one, welcome our computer overlords should that happen,” he jokes.
Acharya suggests that the concept of “test and learn” is vital in preparing for the future, and Grabowski concurs. “I love that. It's ‘words to live by.’” But, he adds, “it's really important that people don't overcorrect too early. There are certain things that have been working for advertisers for years. So I agree – there is test and learn. But it doesn't mean to kill what's working today.”
What to do now
and into the future
The role of contextual targeting in the new era of ad tech
This is the time where marketers really need to engage in contextual targeting and filtering, in data-defined context and the measurements that go along with that.
The 10X10 Content Hub
Contextual targeting leads to a new era in advertising
Data and technology always go hand-in-hand.
Xaxis combines innovative AI technology, advanced omnichannel solutions, data-driven creative, and worldwide programmatic expertise to transform digital media investments into real business outcomes.
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