Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Third-party data is dead, long live the new data dawn

By Kapil Sampanthan, Business Development Director – TGI, Kantar Media

Consumers have woken up to the value of their data. People are aware that their personal information is being used to target them with ads, and are questioning how that data is collected and whether they have given their express consent. 

Big corporations are right to get out in front of this growing cynicism. Google may have pushed back its plans to block third-party cookies, but it remains true that the tool continues to fall in popularity and is ultimately on its way out.  

What does this mean for business and marketing campaigns? Brands have long used third-party cookies to inform advertising strategies and their demise puts companies at risk of losing a wealth of data. Marketers can’t afford to rest on their laurels and must act to ensure they are responding to rising consumer concerns while delivering impactful campaigns. The industry has been afforded some extra breathing space following the recent news from Google – they should use it to plan and find new data sources.

Keep consumers on side  

It’s a complex issue and the pivot away from third-party cookies can feel easier said than done. We know that being able to cast the net widely is essential when it comes to spotting emerging trends or even new audiences, and brands will miss valuable insight without recourse to third-party data. Relying on first-party info alone can become a law of diminishing returns for brands; looking in the same place will keep giving the same answers. But consumers are increasingly hesitant to hand over large amounts of information about themselves.  

So, how can brands toe the line between capturing a wide view of consumer habits and respecting consumer privacy? To avoid becoming blinkered, the solution has to offer broad insight informed by willing participants.

User consented data will be the strongest option in the not-too-distant future. Representative, survey-based panel data is a tried and tested solution that provides insight into people’s views and preferences while informing highly personalised campaigns. More importantly, it’s very targeted and conforms to ever-increasing standards around privacy. The result is a powerful understanding of consumer behaviour and an opportunity to connect with individuals in a more meaningful way.

The use of contextual signals combined with first-party insight can also help plug the gap left by the demise of cookies. However, contextual advertising, like when a hotel chain targets ads at people who search online for adventure and relaxation, is simply not strong enough on its own. It can lead to a degree of personalisation and throw up useful insights, but it still lacks in-depth data from consumers themselves and therefore is not a robust basis for campaigns. 

Embracing multiple data sources while keeping consent at the core

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, and the most impactful campaigns will combine user consented data with contextual and first-party insights while keeping consumer privacy at the core. In an ideal world, this should start with mixing business’ own first-party data with survey-based panel insights to shape a campaign, and then contextual signals should be layered on top during and after. 

The death of third-party data opens the door for a new type of relationship between corporations and individuals, one that hinges on transparency and communication. It’s an opportunity to develop more meaningful relationships with customers who understand the trade-off between providing select information about themselves and a personalised, and therefore improved, service. 

Ultimately, people will turn their backs on the brands that get this wrong. Responding effectively to increasing consumer concerns about data privacy is not just about developing powerful campaigns but fostering customer loyalty and long-term commercial success.