Zenith’s Ali Bremner: The Power Of Strategy In A Cookieless World

Zenith’s Ali Bremner: The Power Of Strategy In A Cookieless World
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In this guest post, Zenith’s digital director Ali Bremner (main photo) isn’t lamenting the end of the cookie, rather, he says, it’s an exciting time for new and industry-changing solutions…

Now that we’ve been given an extra two years to prepare for the cookie apocalypse, it’s important that as an industry we don’t squander the great work and achievements we have already made, and that we continue to put forward game-changing solutions.

While there has been widespread concern over the death of the cookie, I see it more as an exciting turning point for our industry to really lift strategic thinking in our digital marketing approach.

Although cookies have enabled us to deliver effective, short-term solutions to marketing needs, what this has made us overlook as an industry – and what I fear will continue with the introduction of new identify solutions designed to replace the cookie – is the power of brand and creativity in delivering on longer-term marketing objectives.

As the industry grapples with other developments in a privacy-focused world, such as the removal of ad-tracking within Apple iOS and now Google Android, we need to use this as an opportunity.

The opportunity that I see here is for smarter thinking when it comes to audiences and to re-establish the power of strategy. We can do this in the way we use digital media to solve future business challenges and create more long-term value.

We need to look at the bigger picture within digital and move away from focusing too heavily on topline digital results. Cookies, and the data that came with them, only provided so much intel and value to an advertiser in their communications with audiences.

The impending death of the cookie has been the much-needed spark for digital to start understanding its shortfalls, and the importance behind owning and operating 1st party audience data, rather than relying on a one-size-fits-all data solution with off-the-shelf products.

But is this all easier said than done? There is a potential snag to the 1st party data solution, which is the fact that people are very prone to opting out of advertising when given the choice. The main reason behind this is that there is no real value exchange for the user, so why would they hand over their information? This can be seen in the high opt out rates that we have seen following Apple’s iOS 14.5 update, with some estimates citing opt out rates of up to 85%.

However, if an advertiser or a data provider can hit the sweet spot with incentivising an audience to share their information through an effective value exchange, they will certainly reap the rewards. The ultimate prize out of 1st party data is being able to own and segment an audience based on the business needs.

Nestle and McDonald’s are two examples of brands which have been effective in directly communicating to consumers and creating that value exchange.

To make the Christmas gift giving more unique, Nestle gave shoppers the opportunity to personalise their Milo tin directly on the brand’s website. Not only did this experience generate cut-through at a competitive time of the year, but the value exchange increased consumers’ willingness to share 1st party data and maintain a relationship with the brand beyond the holidays.

In McDonald’s case, it used the Maccas app to send consumers product offers tailored to them as rewards, as well as the chance to win prizes after purchasing products when they were logged into their Monopoly app.

These are fantastic examples of long-term marketing strategies that saw each brand forge a deeper connection with their consumers by creating a richer and more interactive content experience which they constantly refreshed – ultimately enabling them to capture high-quality 1st party data.

It’s unfortunate that we have become incredibly technology led within digital, with long-term strategic approaches being left on the back burner in favour of quick acting, short-term results.

In order to comprehensively measure success without the over-reliance of 3rd party identifiers like cookies, we need to focus on econometrics, market mix modelling, and long-term brand health considerations. These are much more important to an advertiser and will become increasingly so as time goes on.

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Ali Bremner Zenith

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