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Keep me logged in: The growing importance of the consumer direct relationship

Consumers want brands to know them, serve them personalised offers and experiences, and yet respect their privacy and data at the same time. Dan Richardson explains why in 2021 marketers need to know and respect their audiences more than ever.


Dan Richardson
Dan Richardson

Evolution is what keeps brands alive and thriving, and nothing has caused rapid evolution quite like the past year. Those that didn’t evolve faced numerous hardships, and those that did found stable footing in a very unstable world.

But change isn’t stopping there, and 2021 is promising to bring even more disruption for marketers to navigate.

Removing the safety net

One example is the upcoming restrictions to third party cookies by Google’s browser Chrome, which will change the way advertisers, marketers and publishers need to think about identity based consumer opportunities.

The second, is Apple’s iOS changes to their privacy regulations, where the tech giant will begin to require that all apps in the App Store show a discouraging prompt to users on iOS 14 devices, in accordance with their App Tracking Transparency framework.

Both these changes were spurred by demands laid out by new data savvy and privacy conscious consumers, and now the industry is having to rethink its positioning when targeting these groups.

It’s becoming very clear that the internet has evolved organically with advertisers in mind and consumers a very distant second. The reality is, all that is changing now, and marketers will no longer be able to hide behind simple data collection they have grown accustomed to.

Even as third party cookies stare down the barrel of their own demise, it probably won’t be long before even first party data collection is restricted too. These changes are now reshaping a broken industry, certainly at a time where it is needed most.

Opportunity comes from logging in

Now, we can look towards increasing accountability and transparency with a consumer first mindset through the ‘logged in user’.

The ‘logged in user’, or having a direct relationship with the consumer, is the future of advertising. Customers can build a connection with the brand, and understand how their data is being used to improve the service.

For example, consumers may now be asked to share details in order for an ecommerce platform to provide them with more personalised offers. A popular show of this is consumers sharing their birth dates for a potential discount on their birthday.

Retail, e-commerce, and web services generate more willingness to share non personally identifiable data such as hobbies, lifestyle, and social information to provide more interesting product offers, coupons, recommendations, or networked connections.

Consumers understand what type of data is most sensitive, but they’re willing to share it with companies in exchange for a product or service they value.

This collection of user IDs that doesn’t rely on cookies or mobile device IDs is the next step for the new advertising ecosystem, as these identifiers are now the most accurate representation of your user base.

These platforms primarily use personal or related information including email, phone number, or other registration data. And every time the users log back into the site on any device, the platform can identify those individual users and customise their experience.

Future proofing

Now as we look ahead to the upcoming changes and a new unknown for the industry, the focus needs to turn to creating a direct relationship between the consumer and the brand.

Brands and publishers who collect personally identifiable information (such as address and phone numbers) through login or purchase, and who can also guarantee the safety of that information, should already have the framework in place to target their audiences even after the changes to the industry.

Yet brands and publishers who may only possess first party data (cookies/device IDs) but do not collect personal information from logins need to look towards partners who can offer scale, addressability while still guaranteeing user privacy.

Those who fail to do either will see an even more significant impact to capabilities such as online conversion tracking and user match rates. So game over.

However our industry shouldn’t dwell on the hardships on the horizon. There are solutions out there set up to help marketers maximise the potential of their own first-party data for campaign optimisation, all while enabling publishers to leverage first-party audience data and respect new regulations surrounding data transparency.

If strategy changes and solutions are not adopted early by marketers and publishers, it’s possible they will end up on the backfoot when further restrictions to cookies are put in place. If you’re a marketer who’s thrived on third-party data for pinpointed online audience targeting strategies, you might be worried about how you’ll navigate this pivot.

Marketers now need to understand the quality of their first party data assets, find their potential growth and plan how they can create a strategy for these upcoming requirements.

If last year was any indication of how quickly things can change and how even minute changes affect the industry in the biggest ways, then the restrictions to cookies and mobile device IDs is bound to send shockwaves through every level.

However these changes will rip the safety blanket away from a lot of players in the industry, and we may start to see some real marketing take place.

These touch points will be expanded in Dan Richardson’s keynote presentation at the Verizon Media Identity Decoded event on February 24, 11am local time.


You can read more on our special series ‘…and that’s how the Cookie crubmles’, here.

About Author

Dan Richardson is Head of Data ANZ at Verizon Media.