Before the world was hit by COVID-19, marketers could make predictions about their consumers — how they lived and what interested them most based on their available first-party data. However, can we say and assume the same in today’s scenario? Not by a long shot. Our lives now are totally different than they were at the beginning of March.
Let me take a step back and refresh what is First-Party Data? This data gold comes directly from your audiences and because it’s given directly, companies prize that information. A brand or publisher’s first-party data may say that a person is male, from Outram and tunes in to his Spotify playlist on his drive to work every morning. And while that was true in the beginning of this year, it’s very unlikely that he follows the same routine today.
What first-party data doesn’t tell you is that he’s moved his family to a more spacious apartment in Clementi New Town to ride out the pandemic and that he’s juggling working from home while home-schooling his kids. Furthermore, his habits changed where he’s availing all food delivery options, completely shopping online to avoid any risk, and is only keeping a tab of the main news because he doesn’t have time to dig into it anymore.
These are all relevant pieces of the puzzle that are missing in a brand or publisher’s consumer profile if they rely on first-party historical data alone.
That’s not to say that first-party data isn’t valuable anymore! First-party data should absolutely be a priority for marketers because of its relevance, quality, and the ability to get a firm grasp of your audience segments. It helps businesses better understand who their audience is, locate missed opportunities, and create innovative personalized strategies to increase ROI. But even before COVID, first-party data lacked the scale and depth of consumer understanding that marketers need to get a complete picture of who their audience is across their connected digital lives.
To make matters more complicated, it’s nearly impossible to know what information marketers are missing from their first-party data. Without the whole picture, marketers are at risk of not recognizing sales opportunities from their current customers and prospects, and unfortunately, competitors who have access to those blind spots are at an advantageous position to steal potential revenue. For example, one of our agency partners discovered that their client was missing connecting with a huge revenue-generating fan base when they just relied on first-party data.
The client I mentioned above, after they added supplemental data to enhance their customer profile, they were able to translate on a previously missed revenue opportunity. Much like this example, marketers rely on second- and third-party data to fill in the gaps and enrich their personas. With fast-changing consumer behaviors and lifestyle experiences — especially amidst COVID-19 — marketers in Singapore and across other APAC markets will increasingly rely on high-quality data to engage with their customers meaningfully and understand their shifting pain points.
Without a panorama of behaviors, device IDs, or other identifiers, contextual will struggle to deliver the right message to the right audience, and will ultimately miss campaign KPIs, which are critical to attracting spend from advertisers.
With the consistent strengthening of data protection laws throughout the APAC region, and in particular, a move towards the standards set in the GDPR you might be thinking, is third-party data actually privacy compliant? As with everything in life, you can work with trusted, high-quality data partners that are privacy-first, or you could work with disreputable, low-quality data partners. Always do your homework when entering into a data partnership. How transparent is your partner about the data’s origin, collection method, recency, compliance, etc.?
Maybe you’re still skeptical about using supplemental resources to augment your audience data. With third-party cookies fading and privacy regulations taking center stage, everyone was already leaning towards contextual targeting as the new advertising industry solution.
Contextual targeting is essentially placing the most appropriate ads within the right context. With this, marketers would use the first-party data they have available to show ads based on what pages the person is visiting, what their interests are, and what their intent is. While this does sound like a good, cookieless solution that marketers have been searching for, especially during a pandemic where everything is in flux, it’s unlikely that contextual will actually replace audience-based targeting.
To understand what consumers’ lives really look like now, marketers must pandemic-proof their data assets by combining and augmenting them with second- and third-party data.
Here’s an example of where context fails. Jenny visits an ESPN.com.sg page. Based on that one visit, is Jenny a sports fan? If we also knew that Jenny visits a football site, buys sports apparel, and watches basketball on TV, it’s pretty safe to assume she’s a regular sports follower. But without that extra insight, we’re far short of the threshold of identifying Jenny as a sports fan. Maybe Jenny typed the ESPN address in error or was interested in an athlete someone mentioned to her, but would normally never consider herself a sports fan. Without a broader context on Jenny, we’re making predictions and inaccurate predictions cost money.
Without a panorama of behaviors, device IDs, or other identifiers, contextual will struggle to deliver the right message to the right audience, and will ultimately miss campaign KPIs, which are critical to attracting spend from advertisers. This is especially true now when most advertisers have decreased their advertising budgets or completely paused their ad campaigns. We need identity solutions to help marketers understand their audiences during the pandemic and beyond.
Six months into this unprecedented global pandemic, many brands and publishers are fighting just to keep their businesses open. In this harsh new reality, having a clear understanding of who your customers currently are can mean the difference between survival and closing down. Clearly, what you knew about a consumer six months ago might no longer be true anymore. Priorities and behaviors have massively shifted: people have moved out of cities, lost jobs, endured pay cuts, canceled travel plans, and aren’t spending on the items they typically might have been interested in. Things have changed in ways that simply aren’t sufficient to be captured by first-party data alone.
To understand what consumers’ lives really look like now, marketers must pandemic-proof their data assets by combining and augmenting them with second- and third-party data, and embracing identity solutions to give them a more accurate picture of their consumers.
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