Last month, the Twilio Segment team had the pleasure of attending Advertising Week 2022.
The week-long event brought together some of the biggest names in the industry to discuss the latest trends and topics in the advertising world, and gave attendees the opportunity to network, attend seminars, and hear from the leading lights of the industry. (and Sesame Street’s Elmo, who made a surprise visit!)
A few personal highlights of the event included keynote speeches from top executives at PepsiCo, Unilever, and Doordash, wide-ranging panel discussions, and a variety of networking events, which gave me some incredibly valuable new insights and connections to take home.
I was also honored to host a panel discussion featuring ad-tech leaders at Snap, Google, Meta, and Deloitte Digital. Our discussion centered around emerging data trends, how ad tech companies are being affected and how they are coping with a cookieless world, and what it means to harness first-party data in this new era.
For those of you who couldn’t make the event in person, I put together a quick highlights reel from the panel. Or if you want to watch the session in full, simply head this way.
The personalization-privacy paradox
Our panel kicked off with a lively discussion of the personalization–privacy paradox. This is the idea that, on the one hand, people want to be able to customize their online experience by having access to personalized content, tailored ads, and tailored recommendations. On the other hand, they want to protect their privacy by controlling who has access to their data and how it is used.
While these opposing forces are difficult to reconcile at the same time, Christine Warner, VP of Global Advertising Partnerships at Meta, was adamant that personalization and privacy can absolutely and should coexist.
She drew attention to Meta’s recent investments in conversion modeling, an industry best practice to help map the customer journey through using prediction, and partnerships with academic organizations like the LBB Tech Lab, as two areas where they believe they can help businesses strike the balance between privacy and personalization.
She also highlighted the integral role CDPs will play in charting these waters:
“From a Meta perspective, we work with partners like Segment to ensure that we're driving personalization and privacy through advertising solutions like our Conversions API. It’s incredibly important to think about your data strategy given these changes, and who the partners are that can support you in driving business results around personalization and privacy moving forward.”
The shift from quality to quantity
In the not-too-distant past, advertising was a numbers game. Find the largest addressable audience, target them indiscriminately with a one-size-fits-all message, and hope (or pray) the results roll in.
However, in recent years, the focus has shifted to quality, with companies using data to focus on targeting specific audiences with personalized messages. Despite recent industry changes, which have made it more difficult for companies to track and measure the effectiveness of their campaigns, our panel was confident that the days of advertising to a vast, undifferentiated audience were behind us.
Chris Plambeck, VP of Marketing Science at Snap, argued that with the recent advances in data and technology, companies no longer have an excuse not to target their marketing messages. Snap’s Conversions API, in tandem with a customer data platform, lets marketers not just collect prospect data in a privacy-conscious way, but also lets you pay close attention to what he referred to as “signal quality”. According to Chris, Ensuring that targeting and bidding algorithms have the most enriched data to utilize is the #1 ingredient to getting personalized advertising programs in the year ahead. “It's not just about sending data. It’s about sending the right data.”
Cookies are coming to an end, but most businesses aren’t prepared
Third-party cookies and data sharing have long been the backbone of digital advertising. This type of retargeting has been increasingly off-putting to users, with governments, regulators, and industry giants like Google and Apple all announcing different ways to curtail their usage.
This means businesses will need to find alternative ways to track user behavior and deliver targeted advertising. While there are several potential solutions that exist, such as using first-party cookies, contextual advertising, and customer data platforms / identity resolution solutions, the panel cast doubt on whether the majority of businesses were prepared for such a seismic shift.
Michelle McGuire, Principal of Experience Management at Deloitte Digital, shared a recent survey commissioned at Deloitte that confirmed the lack of business readiness. The report found the crux of the issue was in understanding the steps needed to weather such changes. Is it a question of organizational alignment? Or does it require entirely new tools and technologies?
The answer is a little bit of both, but Michelle was quick to encourage businesses to break the process down into achievable steps to avoid “boiling the ocean”. The biggest misstep marketers can make is to do nothing to prepare for the removal of third-party cookies, by which point the competition will be streets ahead.
If you want to assess your readiness, head this way to try Deloitte’s Cookieless Calculator
Preparing for a first-party data future
There was a shared consensus amongst the panel that first-party data, data collected directly from a company's own customers or users, will provide the backbone of digital advertising going forward.
This data is collected through a company's own websites, apps, and other digital properties, and includes information such as customer demographics, purchase history, and web browsing behavior. And in lieu of third-party cookies, it can be used to create more personalized experiences for customers and to better understand their needs and preferences.
While implementing an effective first-party data strategy takes thought, the tools available
for first-party data collection, management, and usage are improving.
Jessica Nussbaum, Head of Audience Platforms and Advanced Data at Google, drew special attention to tools like Customer Match, which allows advertisers to leverage their first-party data to identify and reach their audience across different Google properties, and PAIR, a new solution that allows businesses to securely and privately reconcile their first-party data for audiences who have visited both publishers' and advertisers' sites.
These tools are just the tip of the iceberg of what will be available to advertisers in 2023.
A big thanks to all our panelists, and all those at Advertising Week who made the event a huge success. We’re looking forward to next year already!