Are We Really Ready To Use First Party Data?

Are We Really Ready To Use First Party Data?
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It’s an ongoing challenge for agencies to keep their ‘eye on the prize’ and strike the balance between meeting our clients’ needs, and catering for the most important party, the end consumer, writes iProspect Melbourne’s Oliver Rapson.

I often find myself in meetings where we’re told of impressive new ways of using data in order to increase our clients’ ROI.

That same day I might be at a dinner party with people (average consumers, who don’t work in digital advertising) that recently found out that they are being “stalked” through what we would know as a simple retargeted campaign. I then painstakingly have to explain why these campaigns are done, how they work, the benefits of retargeting and so on. This reasoning too often falls on deaf ears and I generally get a response like “Yeah mate, I know I’m a little out of shape, I’ve not had a girlfriend for three years and my house is a mess, but I don’t really need Facebook reminding me”.

It’s in these moments that I start second-guessing our role in all of this. Are we suggesting the right things to our clients? Are we really ready to take it to the next level? Part of me gets really excited about utilising first party data – the efficiencies (and technical challenges) are enormous, and the potential even bigger. To better target consumers, a better understanding of behaviour is required to achieve set objectives. That being said, what would happen when the average punter discovers the detail in which we can manipulate data to ensure the right ads are shown to the right person?

Naturally, we are in the business of ensuring that new advertising strategies are best for our clients. However, unfortunately  basic tactics and strategies can be badly thought through. In some circumstances, they aren’t looked at from a consumer’s prospective, but from a numerical metric that needs to be achieved.

Negative brand experience doesn’t really have a solid dollar value; it tends to be swept under the sentimental carpet and left for dead. Luckily, online advertising tactics (such as frequency capping) aren’t generally picked up by the target consumer as they (again, generally) don’t know they were part of an overall acquisition strategy from the first place. This type of ignorance is bliss, but the consumers are slowly waking up to it; all we need is an exaggerated current affairs segment to bring this country to a paranoid standstill on first party data.

Firstly – consumers need to understand that nothing is for free – and yes, we often have to explain that generally, it is ad dollars that pay for their access to free content or social tools online. But the truth is that people are still going to get agitated by this apparent break in privacy.

Secondly, and let’s be frank for a minute – advertisers and agencies alike don’t tend to hold back too much. The opportunity to make a buck, or meet a KPI can often override the possibility of upsetting a random bloke in Mt Gambier. It’s these things that we need to consider when thinking about initialising even better forms of targeting going forward.

In order to keep negative brand experiences at bay, and to ensure consumers don’t feel compromised, we really need to start giving people the ability to choose if we are allowed to capture their online behaviour. Is this going to work? Probably not, but I can’t help but think that if you don’t at least remind them, we will end up with egg on our face. Next thing you know, the current affairs programs’ ratings will go through the roof, people will feel ripped off for having something for free and advertiser X will sue agency Y for not warning them that “behavioural retargeting” is a soft form of stalking. This may be a sensationalist way of looking at it, but we should start focusing on empowering consumers to avoid impending doom.

I tip my hat to those companies who have worked with their agencies in producing inclusive social campaigns, making the people part of the strategy rather than a piece of it. It would be great to primarily use first party data to compliment people’s shopping experience rather than serving them advertisements hoping that perhaps this time “they will feel it”.

Perhaps it’s time we roll this kind of thinking across all digital mediums and get closer to our end user rather than our KPIs?

Oliver Rapson is the general manager of iProspect Melbourne

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