An earthquake is about to hit your company’s marketing department. The digital advertising framework they depend on is set to take a major hit with Apple now requiring explicit consumer consent on its Identification for Advertisers (IDFA), which marketers heavily rely on for targeting, personalizing, and measuring digital ads and communications. With 80% of consumers expected to opt out, it’s the coup de grâce following a series of blows to big tech’s advertising ecosystems.
Consumers — and governments — are ramping up their demands that big tech (and the advertisers that leverage them) prioritize privacy over rampant mass surveillance. As a result, the third party data and third party platforms that have powered your company’s customer marketing will be kneecapped. The impacts will span every area of the organization from executives and marketers to IT and martech teams:
- Leadership will need to devise strategies to overcome a near term hit to their ability to drive and predict revenue
- Business won’t have the same data, won’t be able to sell or market in the same way and won’t be able to use some of the tools they’ve come to depend on
- Analytics teams will no longer have access to the same data they’ve counted on in the past, forcing them to rethink how they measure and predict customer behaviors
- IT will need to revisit the marketing stack as elements of it will become obsolete, and support business teams by bringing in-house new data sources and processes
What will replace the third-party ecosystem as drivers of business growth? Your own first-party data and channels. Which means your organization’s CMO and CX leaders (among others) will undoubtedly turn to you, the CIO, for solutions to shore up the customer insights, customer targeting and CX activation gaps. It is the data strategies and technology stacks you own that can position marketing and CX for success in the future, placing in your hands a significant portion of your organization’s fate in the face of these challenges.
The CIOs who will emerge from these challenges most successfully are already putting robust strategies in place to bring their organization out the other side of the digital ad tech apocalypse stronger — but if you haven’t started yet, it’s not too late. Let’s examine some key elements to consider for surviving and thriving in the coming months and years.
The Foundation: Data Collection
Succeeding in this new era of privacy means taking back ownership of your relationships with prospects and customers. According to an Epsilon study, 80% of today’s marketers are moderately or very reliant on 3rd party cookies—meaning prospect and customer data also resides with 3rd parties.
By investing more in first-party data, you can provide marketing and CX with a better alternative for the data they need to deliver personalized experiences for prospects and customers. Your organization will own the data as a unique asset—rather than having to reach consumers by competing to be the highest bidder on the expensive open market.
“Leaders in the coming years will build and own a sustainable universe of first-party identifiers and data resolved to personally identifiable information (PII),” according to Merkle’s 2021 Customer Experience Imperatives report. “This is how companies like Amazon in retail, Netflix in entertainment, and ATT/Warner Media in media have gained competitive advantage.”
Bringing it All Together: Data Connection and Democratization
With robust data collection, you now need to connect your data. Firstly, data must be connected with itself, because each one of your systems or customer touchpoints that generate data contains only a sliver of the information that makes up the total picture of your prospect or customer. Through unification and identity resolution, you’ll connect that data together so you have a comprehensive view of every prospect and customer.
Next, your data must be connected directly with your users, making it accessible to the business and getting IT out of the usage path. Democratizing data across business and analytics teams enables them to approach new use cases with agility — reacting to constant change with an iterative test-and-learn approach. With the business enabled, IT spends less time replying to tickets and more time pushing ahead on strategic initiatives.
Realizing Your Strategies with People, Process and Technology
Much of what you’ll need to deliver in the new privacy-focused economy will need to be effected within and around your marketing and CX stacks. What’s the best approach to implementing change? Of course, every enterprise's stack is different. But here are some key priorities and principles to consider in rationalizing your stack and readying it for the impending privacy economy:
- Leverage existing investments. Look for opportunities to add value to existing investments as resetting a complete stack altogether is rarely successful.
- Focus on integrations. Ensure that you are building an integrated stack, with flexibility to swap elements in and out as strategies, needs and budget change.
- Think cost control. Reduce capability duplication across your stack and consider swapping out components driving high cost but delivering low value.
- Lean on data partners. For brands with limited access to first party data, building a strong data partnership ecosystem will be critical to help you transition to the privacy-first economy.
- Consider change management and operations. Bringing in-house new data and new processes & operations will necessitate change within the org. Take a proactive approach to change management.
The Time is Now
In the face of the oncoming digital advertising upheaval, CIOs are in a unique position to help win the day for their brands. While the challenges can seem overwhelming, they also present an exciting opportunity for tech teams to bring a new level of business value and organizational leadership through technology. Designing and beginning to implement your strategy today is the best way to position yourself and your enterprise for success.