With third-party cookies set to be obsolete next year, advertisers are going to have to radically rethink their data infrastructure and privacy models if they want to grow and differentiate in the new online environment.
First-party data, the information you gather and hold on your customers, offers the perfect means to deliver relevant, measurable campaigns on a privacy-first web. Overhauling your systems and processes can be daunting, but the good news is that the U.K. boasts a vibrant ecosystem of agencies to help make the transformation process quicker, more effective, and pain-free.
We spoke to experts working in three agencies to get their perspective on U.K. privacy and the changing data landscape — and to find out where brand priorities should lie.
3 priorities for a privacy-first web
GroupM: Go beyond the bare minimum to win trust
Trust and reputation are essential for growing any business, and they can increasingly be won or lost by how you handle your customer data. Right now, the average U.K. consumer may be willing to opt in to sharing their personal information without reading the fine print, but expectations are getting higher. And if something goes wrong, the ramifications can be huge.
Any misuse of personal information can dramatically affect the trust between a consumer and the advertiser. And with online regulations becoming stronger and discussions of data ethics more prevalent, anyone using first-party data strategies must make privacy a priority throughout the customer journey.
The most obvious value in first-party data is that it can build repeat business by deepening your understanding of current customers. But consumers need to see a clear link between the personal information they’ve shared and the value they get back. It makes sense for a travel brand to ask customers for their favourite holiday activities, for example, if it uses that information to curate ideas for their next trip. If a video game brand asks the same question, it may need to be more transparent about why.
Consumers need to see a clear link between the personal information they’ve shared with you and the value they get back.
Publicis Media: Act fast and holistically to minimise risk
We’re seeing two common challenges for our U.K. clients: the legal risk of non-compliance around data and privacy and the threat to the business of reduced marketing performance as cookies are phased out. Both are compounded by operational structures that don’t often align the two. The reality is that privacy, data, and marketing effectiveness cross so many traditional departmental lines.
When teams work holistically and towards shared goals, you’re in a better position to protect both your business and your customers.
A sophisticated first-party data strategy is key to overcoming these challenges, but it will need an early and ongoing focus from within the business and from agencies and partners alike. With barriers often organisational as much as technical, agencies can offer real value. They can bring a broad range of solutions that drive performance, with a healthy distance from their client’s operations and a good overview on where alignment can be achieved.
We talk to clients about everything from ensuring a respectful and low-friction user experience in their consent management to how to develop a clear and transparent privacy notice that fits with evolving U.K. regulations.
The first task from an organisational perspective is to get alignment on policies and purpose from senior stakeholders across the business. When that happens, and teams are working holistically and towards shared goals, you’re in a better position to protect both your business and your customers.
Brainlabs: Establish a single source of truth
Connecting first-party data requires collaboration across your entire organisation, including legal, technical, and marketing teams. But many companies don’t have mature first-party data strategies in place, or even a single source of up-to-date information that everyone can rely on as a baseline for decision-making.
Embedding the importance of first-party data from the top allows you to set clear business goals — and achieve them.
The process should start with an assessment of how you currently collect and use data. From here, you can create a plan for how best to handle your customers’ personal information, in whatever contexts they engage with you.
Your agency should be able to help you create a solid technical foundation that everyone can access, so first-party data can be shared easily between internal teams and across your advertising and marketing platforms. With a platform like Google Analytics as your single source of truth, for example, you’ll know that people across your business are accessing the right information in a way that is both compliant and in line with customers’ privacy needs.
This process may seem overwhelming, so start with smaller user cases. This can give you quick wins, cross-team learnings, and a clear sense of progress.
Success can ultimately rest on C-level sponsorship of data-driven marketing initiatives. Embedding from the top the importance of first-party data — and how it’s generated, accessed, and governed — allows you to set clear and accurate goals for the business and its ad campaigns. And more importantly still, help you achieve them.
6 steps to create a future-ready first-party data strategy
- Engage senior leadership in key data issues – get their buy-in and make it a core part of your business strategy.
- Collaborate across functions to rethink how data is collected, stored, and processed.
- Exceed the minimum privacy requirements to meet changing consumer needs and build trust.
- Consider the legal and ethical risks of handling first-party data – adapt your infrastructure and policies accordingly.
- Act fast to avoid risking the loss of valuable data.
- Work with accredited agencies who can offer best-in-class solutions and talent to help you prepare for a privacy-first world while helping you boost business performance too.