Australia – Even amidst cookie deprecation continually hanging over brands’ heads, organisations have shifted their priorities, with the focus moving away from the long-endured preparation for stricter data collection. According to a study by marketing advisory Arktic Fox, companies are now eyeing growth more than ever showing how the recent economic challenges have put considerable dent in their business trajectories. 

The Australia-focused study showed that growth agenda is one of the top priorities for 78% of Australia-based digital and marketing leaders and their teams in the year ahead. Only 55% cited developing first-party data strategy as their number one goal. 

Moreover, growth goals also trump brand development and embedding brand purpose (54%) in the hierarchy of company objectives. This is specifically for organisations in the market generating in excess of $100m in revenues. 

Growth has moved to top the priority list since last year, showing the reality of present economic conditions, said the report. 

When it comes to challenges, the current research showed that balancing short- and long-term priorities is the main struggle of two-thirds of respondents, demonstrating the balancing act leaders are facing to deliver short-term performance outcomes whilst building for the future. 

Further to Australian leaders’ predicaments, some 60% of respondents struggle with resourcing and budget constraints, showing that current times are asking marketing and digital heads to be more laser-focused on priority areas and investing for impact.

On the key objective of incorporating digital transformation across the business, Teresa Sperti, Arktic Fox’s director, said, Today we still see far too many leaders believing that digital is someone’s role as opposed to digital capability needing to be embedded across the organisation to become central to the business strategy and operations.”

“When a separate digital or ecommerce function exists that is siloed from the rest of the business, it sends a message that understanding digital is not my job or responsibility and stifles teams’ ability to build capability and develop skills,” she added. 

The report was developed together with executive search firm Six Degrees and sponsored by martech Amperity. All in all, the 2023 Digital & Marketing In Focus study interviewed 230 marketing, digital, and e-commerce leaders across Australia within the period of November 2022 to February 2023.

2023 will mark an exciting and transformative new phase for most businesses in the world as the economic environment and market situation evolves and enters a new normal. First-party data-centric solutions, online-merge-offline (OMO) services and applications, along with result-driven marketing focus with the emphasis on conversion and campaign result uplift, are set to help businesses build stronger resilience in a highly uncertain market environment. 

In the post-pandemic era, offline channels have been recovering steadily, but this does not mean that the influence of online channels will decline. Instead, with the nature of online marketing’s measurable effectiveness, the lines between customer acquisition, retention, conversion, and insight into the marketing funnel stages have started to blur, and this makes it more important to equip businesses with real-time first-party data collection and analysis capabilities to strengthen their online and offline data integration. Service providers with a strong AI know-how will continue to lead the trends of MarTech tool development and present more diverse applications to fit multiple scenarios. 

Following the incoming phasing out of third-party cookies, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a leading technology that provides better results for organisations, supporting them to enhance their campaign performances with limited data sources. In response to the economic slowdown and inflation, results-driven marketing solutions will empower businesses to turn their marketing investment into predictable returns and leverage a ‘turning AI into ROI’ customer-centric mindset to help enterprises cope well with the new normal in 2023. 

To prepare for the new normal in the post-pandemic era in 2023, the following three strategies can help companies seize potential business opportunities and make wiser business decisions:

Theme 1: First-party data centric solutions 

With the rise in the awareness of data privacy, businesses are seeking first-party data centric solutions for digital marketing. Real-time analysis and predictions from small data are two unique features of AI technology which can unify user profiles and extrapolate user affinity more accurately and realize personalised communication with limited first-party data, whilst respecting user privacy. Moreover, first-party data can also enable auto-piloted intelligent advertising to generate greater investment returns for customers. 

Theme 2: OMO application of online and offline data 

Digital transformation is a continuously evolving process. Although offline sales have gradually recovered in the post-pandemic era, online shopping trends that took hold during the pandemic have convinced brands that OMO is the key to sustainability and to coping with uncertainties. 

To adapt to the new normal in the post-pandemic era, enterprises are actively seeking solutions to integrate and connect data across offline and online channels. Brands that unify customer data across different channels such as websites, apps, and social media can then leverage smarter insights to create seamless and personalised customer experiences.

Theme 3: Emphasis on conversion and effectiveness with result-driven marketing focus

An ever-changing market environment brings formidable challenges to enterprises and brands. Brands are spending their marketing budgets more precisely to specify marketing targets. AI can incorporate natural language processing, computer vision, and conversational commerce to help businesses keep up with these changes in real time, gain insights that humans cannot perceive, and recommend businesses to take immediate actions driven by data. 

For example, AI can target high-value customers and make predictions beforehand, and optimize the effectiveness of advertising and retargeting. It can also be used to make creative decisions about ad materials to improve advertising effectiveness. Combined with intuitive visualisation to quickly display users’ feedback at every touch point of the customer journey, AI can quickly predict and understand marketing performance in real time and take immediate actions. 

AI not only improves the efficiency and effectiveness of customer acquisition, it can also predict purchase intent. After a user visits a website, brands can leverage the power of AI to deliver a personalised coupon to hesitant shoppers to stimulate the checkout process or increase customer transactions, enabling enterprises to maximise the ROI of their marketing campaign without sacrificing profit. 

Due to the impact of the pandemic and uncertainties in the market, AI-driven MarTech solutions have become an indispensable tool to help companies enhance their competitiveness. There will be more relevant applications to be introduced in 2023, and be adopted extensively in multiple industries. MarTech solutions will also become more data-driven and result-driven to help enterprises make advances in the face of adversity. 

This article is written by Hongchia How, Vice President of Appier for APAC.

The insight is published as part of MARKETECH APAC’s thought leadership series under What’s NEXT 2023What’s NEXT 2023 is a multi-platform industry initiative which features marketing and industry leaders in APAC sharing their marketing insights and predictions for the upcoming year.

If you are a marketing leader and have insights that you’d like to share on upcoming trends and practices in marketing, please reach out to [email protected] for an opportunity to be part of the series. 

New York – Global technology company Lotame has launched its next-generation data platform Spherical, which is targeted at helping marketers quickly drive the most value from known and unknown first-party data for customer engagement and acquisition.

The platform also aims to empower brands and media owners to drive growth and revenue through actionable customer intelligence, data-informed audiences, and identity-powered activation in cookie-restricted, cookie-enabled, or authenticated environments. 

Spherical will be enabling interoperability and data portability across brand and media owner tech stacks. It also aims to extend first-party data living in data warehouses or customer data platforms (CDPs) into the marketing and advertising technology (madtech) ecosystem. 

Moreover, leading CDPs integrated with Spherical will include BlueConic, Meiro, mParticle, Rudderstack, Salesforce, Simon Data, Tealium and Treasure Data. Lotame plans to expand support to additional CDPs on an ongoing basis.

Andy Monfried, Lotame’s CEO and founder, shared the news in his talk at the IAB’s Annual Leadership Meeting. He said, “There’s no shortage of pain in our industry. Everyone wants first-party data but not everyone has it. Many that have it don’t know how to make the most of it. Preserving addressability and data connectivity are gridlocked by a host of macro and micro issues.”

He also added that Spherical was designed to address these issues instead of focusing on the ‘symptoms.’

Carlos Payares, CSO LATAM at Omnicom Media Group, also commented, “Spherical empowers digitally native brands to onboard customer emails as they authenticate onsite in real time. That eliminates the lag time between first-party data ingestion and activation, and is a tremendous competitive advantage, especially in markets with limited onboarding functionality. We’re excited to test with our clients straightaway.”

Nobody can deny that the pace and degree of digital transformation is accelerating in the wake of the pandemic, creating mounting pressure to meet customers wherever they are. Those who were once never online are now navigating the digital world with a new sense of confidence.

This new world has also brought its fair share of challenges as well. Consumers, for one, are increasingly skeptical when it comes to their privacy and the privacy of their data, in particular. Their expectations of brands are also changing. They want more personalised and relevant experiences. Essentially, if they provide their data, then they expect to benefit from an enhanced experience.

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak at the Digital Leadership Forum (DLF), conducted in partnership with BPP, where we discussed the above digital customer trends in the APAC region. From what today’s consumers want to privacy, cookies and more, this is the information all marketers need as they tiptoe into a future without third-party cookies.

The privacy paradox

Thanks to digital acceleration, consumers are becoming increasingly careful, informed, sophisticated, and demanding in their shopping interactions. At the same time, they’re also far less tolerant of sub-standard shopping experiences, both online and in-store.

Their digital expectations have also risen exponentially, causing brands everywhere to face their biggest challenge yet — balancing customers’ desires for personalised interactions while fiercely protecting customer privacy.

It’s what we’re calling the privacy paradox. Consumers are really skeptical about how brands are using their data. Facebook has only added fuel to the fire with the controversy surrounding it in recent years. At Cheetah Digital, we’re finding more and more consumer sentiment around social channels becoming negative.

In Australia, our 2022 Digital Consumer Trends Index revealed that 63% of consumers do not trust these platforms with their data. Now, of course, that doesn’t mean they’re not using these platforms. They’re just treating them with a healthy dose of skepticism.

For example, when asked, a whopping 86% of consumers said they wanted to see brands spend more on their loyalty offering and less on Facebook advertising. Interestingly, there has also been a large positive sentiment for brands that have pulled ads from Facebook altogether because of concerns about the rise of harmful content. Consumers know the value of their data, as a result, they’re being increasingly protective of it.

When I think of a really tremendous example of digital transformation and acceleration, I think of our customer Purebaby. In a very short period of time, the Australian company underwent an incredible transformation.

Previously, Purebaby relied heavily on brick-and-mortar stores to drive revenue. Its online offering was just a secondary thought. That is until COVID-19 came to be. When it hit, Purebaby rapidly and successfully pivoted, resulting in roughly 90% of its revenue coming in from online sales. It has completely changed the brand’s business and business model forever.

The great thing about this transformation success story is that to bolster its online experience, Purebaby shifted from focusing on purely promotional marketing to building up robust lifecycle programs. To give you some context, Purebaby set up 22 email programs within the space of just 18 months. 

The brand did this to ensure the online experience was seamless for its new demanding digital customers. Purebaby provided different touchpoints that were more triggered and personal than ever before. So when you look at how digital acceleration is changing the way consumers engage, it essentially comes down to the fact that they’re becoming more careful, and therefore, require brands to earn their trust.

Beefed up GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation)

Life is about to change big time for APAC marketers. As we all know, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is a regulation in EU law on data protection and privacy. The model is being adopted for the APAC region as well, leading to the death of the cookie.

This means brands and companies are at risk of facing regulatory penalties and lawsuits if they don’t adhere to the new privacy requirements. Even more, companies can no longer assume that if they cannot identify someone through an IP address that the law won’t apply to them. Because it will. As marketers, we need to be more cautious than ever in our approach to treating unknown users.

The question is, are we ready for this change? According to Forrester, probably not. Its research revealed that 43% of marketers say their current practices rely on third-party cookies. Even more, 59% of marketers in APAC say they only fulfil the minimum requirements to comply with data privacy regulations. That means there is a large portion of people who still don’t feel like they’re meeting minimum requirements.

With customers’ demands going beyond those minimum requirements, how can we make sure that we meet them in a place that keeps them happy and comfortable? Apple CEO Tim Cook said it best — “Technology does not need vast troves of personal data, stitched together across dozens of websites and apps in order to succeed. Advertising existed and thrived for decades without it.”

He continues, “If a business is built on misleading users, on data exploitation, on choices that are no choices at all; it does not deserve our praise. It deserves reform.” Case in point: Business owners and marketers cannot get away with what they’ve done in the past anymore.

Look at Apple’s mail privacy protection functionality that came into play in September last year. The update essentially allows users to turn off their opening tracking, hide IP addresses, and in some cases, hide email addresses. So it’s a lot more difficult to judge how a consumer is interacting with the communication you’ve sent them. This is some of the “fun” that we as marketers have to accept in this new cookie-less world.

As the cookie crumbles

We’ve been discussing the death of the cookie for a long time. Google announced plans to entirely phase out third-party cookies within two years. And although Google’s privacy pivot is a win for privacy-conscious consumers; it’s a headache for marketers and businesses who rely on these third-party cookies to advertise effectively. Next year will be here before we know it; so we need to be ready. We need to find a new way to satisfy our “sweet tooth” because the cookie is truly crumbling.

At Cheetah Digital, our goal is to always get brands to focus on building out a zero-party data strategy. And the reason is simple: this preference data comes directly from the consumer so there are no intermediaries — no guesswork. They’re telling you exactly what their preference is. It’s psychographic data that includes your customers’ values, attitudes, interests, and personality traits.

The only thing to be cognizant of is this will change over time. Unlike first-party data like first and last names and mobile numbers, which remain pretty static, zero-party data relating to attitudes and life stages continually evolves. So you have to keep understanding and collecting.

Cosying up with consumer expectations

We’ve established that consumers have the expectation for brands to know them. But what they’re comfortable with is a different story. Our research shows that most people actually want a consistent experience regardless of whether they interact online or in-store.

Consumers want messages that recognise their shopping history. They want their data to be used in ways that make them feel comfortable and like an individual. So don’t send them irrelevant content or offers based on information they haven’t directly shared with you — that’s considered creepy.

At the end of the day, it’s essentially a value exchange. Our research reveals that 55% of consumers are comfortable with sharing data with brands in exchange for better service. So if you want to know more about the consumer, figure out what you can give them in return for that information. At Cheetah Digital, we find that consumers respond positively to discounts, coupons, loyalty points, and rewards.

Use those aspects to gain additional insight into your consumer, understand your audience better, and then target them, using the data in a way that they find relevant and useful. Also understand that consumers have high expectations for brands. All it takes is one misstep or one bad experience for them to go elsewhere because, with today’s bustling online world, they have more options than ever before right at their fingertips.

For marketers who are struggling to meet the needs of consumers and their various demands, it’s time to update their toolkits to include new strategies and tactics to thrive. They need to market to an individual with authenticity, relevance, and accuracy and that requires an entirely new way of thinking.

Take a look below for five ways to thrive in a world with no third-party cookies.

5 ways to survive a cookie-less future:

1. Stop renting data: Build your own databases through direct-consumer relationships. Have a robust data-collection strategy to support this. And know that the data you need to market to individuals with the right level of relevance and privacy doesn’t come easily. It requires a strategy that incentivises consumers to tell you about themselves willingly, with the permission to use that data.

2. “Know them and show them”: Consumers expect digital interactions that are immediate and highly relevant to them. They have real-time expectations and think you should “know them and show them” how well you understand them. This requires a single view of the customer with preferences and insights that can be used for decisioning in the moment to drive engaging experiences anywhere your customer interacts with you.

3. Devise a loyalty initiative: Not every brand needs a loyalty program. But every brand does have to provide some sort of value exchange. Well-executed interactions across channels help customers feel a connection, and that connection leads to them reciprocating with purchases and eventually, loyalty to your brand.

4. Know the rules of engagement: Consumers expect to engage with you on different devices. In fact, today’s consumers use an average of nearly six touchpoints, with half of them regularly using more than four when engaging with a brand.

5. Create a craving: When customers want to participate in your loyalty program, you need to do more than incentivise transactions. You want to reward them for behaviours as well. Loyalty program management is vital to keep customers coming back for more.

Don’t take my word for it. Market research by Twilio’s Segment reveals that 44% of consumers will likely become repeat buyers and 32% will likely leave a positive review after a personalised shopping experience. There is life after the death of the cookie, and if you’re prepared, it has the potential to be even sweeter.

And talking about a ‘sweet’ success story – check out how Bakers Delight increased its basket size by more than 20% when its ‘Dough Getters’ loyalty program launched in the first half of 2021.

The key takeaway is, when you know individuals and can market to them with personalised experiences that they welcome — not because you snooped on them — magical things happen. 

This article was written by Alexandra Smit, digital marketing & automation specialist at Cheetah Digital. Cheetah Digital is a cross-channel customer engagement solution provider that enables marketers to create personalised experiences, cross-channel messaging, and loyalty strategies.