Marek Pełszyński works at Polish fashion-retail group LPP S.A. where he is head of analytics for its flagship brand, Reserved. There he is responsible for the statistical collection and interpretation of data used to inform company business decisions.
These days, privacy is paramount. As a brand that operates online, if we’re not meeting the data protection needs of today’s consumer, we risk narrowing our reach, losing customers, and getting on the wrong side of the law.
LPP group has expanded to include five recognisable brands and become one of the biggest fashion companies in Central and Eastern Europe. At Reserved, our flagship clothes-manufacturing brand, our online presence now extends to much of the rest of Europe and even into Asia and Africa. So having a privacy-safe measurement strategy satisfying expectation and regulation as these evolve across borders is essential to us understanding our digital performance. And it's an opportunity to provide our customers the online experience they want.
We discovered that by keeping ahead of the trend and closing our data gaps, we’ve gained a competitive edge. And we’re able to continue meeting — and even exceeding — our business goals. Here’s how we did it:
Overcoming first-party data limitations
The introduction of consent banners to our international websites and the rise of cookieless browsing both brought significant data loss in most of the countries where Reserved sells online. We were missing a large part of the customer journey, couldn’t accurately tell where our ad campaign budget would be spent most effectively, and had trouble distinguishing between new and returning customers.
A big part of the solution was using two tools we introduced in tandem: consent mode and enhanced conversions. Grzegorz Sawicki, a privacy expert at Google Poland, explained it to us as follows: “consent mode primarily ensures upholding consumer privacy choices — while also bridging first-party data gaps — and enhanced conversions further assists loss of measurement due to deactivated third-party cookies.”
At the beginning of last year, these two tools gave our new strategy the robust foundation to handle changes occurring across markets.
To better understand activity carried out on our web pages, and to correlate ad-click-to-conversion journeys, our sites include tags created with Google Tag Manager that can recognise visitor actions.
Consent mode makes sure we uphold our customers’ data-use choices when they visit one of our websites. But when a customer declines consent, our first-party data can become fragmented, making it hard for us to understand the overall performance of our media.
To bridge these data gaps, consent mode enables our site tags to ping us minimal information on user activity without storing cookies. In this way we still receive valuable quantitative data that helps us see where a customer came from, what they did on our site, and if they made a conversion, such as buying a product or creating an account — all without identifying them.
Boosting measurement in a privacy-safe way
While consent mode also helped us see some of the customers we had been missing, enhanced conversions revealed crowds of them. Our customers’ information can then go through one-way encryption to become a secure string of characters that is sent to Google, and matched with the similarly encrypted data of Google logged-in users. This helps us boost measurement while maintaining the privacy and safety of our site visitors’ data.
So, even if a logged-in user is visiting our website on a browser that doesn’t support cookies, we can get a more precise picture of their online behaviour. We can see this through data from these users on other Google channels, such as Search, Gmail, and YouTube. It also gives us a more complete understanding of the consumer journey by helping us understand if a customer who made a purchase on our site interacted with one of our ads.
About one month after launching enhanced conversions, we regained significant measurement on the performance of our media across campaigns in most markets. We saw an extra 15% of conversions on average from our Search ads — much better than the 5% we were aiming for. And we also saw an average 25% more of those connected to our YouTube advertising.
Better understanding our digital performance
Gaining this privacy-safe data means we can better understand which of our decisions and strategies are working best in which of our markets. And that means better-informed ad spend, which, in turn, allows for ongoing optimisation and effective scaling.
In Austria for example, where about half of internet users browse with Chrome and many use cookieless browsing, but nearly 90% use YouTube, there was an uplift in conversion attribution of up to 50% from YouTube. We didn’t know that YouTube was performing so well in the Austrian market, and even more valuable was understanding which of our video creatives were gaining this traction. In Germany, too, where people are less likely to consent to data collection, we suddenly saw a notable number of customers that we couldn’t before.
And all of this happens without our audience noticing any change in how they experience our site.
Identifying new and returning customers to tailor our ad spend
Even with consent mode and enhanced conversions sealing some of our biggest data gaps, we were still missing a vital piece of information: we could not easily tell the difference between new and returning customers. That made it difficult to figure out where to target our ad investment.
So our next step was to use all of the privacy-safe data we were collecting to improve the ways in which we were engaging with our customers.
Working with digital marketing agency Full Stack Experts, we used Customer Match to organise our first-party data into segmented lists. This helps us to recognise our customers who already shop with us, and to interact with them with increased relevance based on their online behaviours. Then, we include these lists in our Google Ads account where the data is matched to Google accounts. This allows us to maximise the use of our privacy-safe data for more effective Smart Bidding — getting the right user at the right price.
What this means in practice is that the Google AI powering Smart Bidding is supplied with our own high value data to optimise our ad campaigns. And that ensures our data is privacy friendly and durable for the future. This also allows it to reach out to new customers who are similar to our most active existing customers in the right way.
For us it's important that we understand our customers and are able to align with their different preferences as they navigate online. With these solutions working together, we can fill in the gaps while giving those who shop with us the level of data protection they expect, and in this way we remain worthy of both their trust and their business.