First-party data strategy: the core of your organisation

23 June 2022

The digital landscape will change significantly with the elimination of third-party cookies and the introduction of new European legislation. Advertisers will have to innovate and make the way that they market themselves more sustainable. First-party cookies and a review of the customer relationship are key to this.

First party data | iO

Remarketing, tracking, conversion optimisation and profiling: all these familiar marketing methods will change drastically, if not disappear completely. That should be a wake-up call for every marketer. It demonstrates not only the scale of our dependence on Big Tech, but also just how important first-party data is.

“The prospect of a cookieless future should be a wake-up call for every marketer”

The truth is that as marketers often we have been too 'lazy'. Parties such as Google, Facebook and Amazon offer perfect advertising opportunities on a silver platter. This works well, especially for smaller companies that are mainly focused on results. One of the consequences of this is that interest in other forms of marketing has declined and the dependence on external advertising platforms has increased enormously. The major platforms have free rein – or at least they will have until well into 2024.

The digital game is changing

The turnaround doesn't just start with Google Chrome, which is finally tackling the ban on the third-party cookie. Regulators are also siding more with the user and are less reluctant to respond to Big Tech companies with new legislation. Recently, the Digital Services Act (DSA) and the Digital Markets Act (DMA) were passed by the European Parliament, in legislation that’s collectively known as the Digital Services Package. With this, the European Commission hopes to create a safer digital space for users and a level playing field for all digital companies.

“With the Digital Services Package, the European Commission wants to create a safer digital space for users and a level playing field for all digital companies.”

Soon the DSA will oblige digital providers of online intermediary services – such as platforms – to be transparent about digital advertising. Illegal content will also have to be removed faster. The DMA focuses on 'gatekeepers': the major online platforms that offer essential digital services such as search engines, social media platforms, app stores, video platforms, app services, operating systems, cloud providers and advertising services. All Big Tech, in other words, but also the other players that play a distinct role in the digital ecosystem.

The Digital Services Package is a regulation that gives the rules direct impact, with fines of up to 6% of worldwide turnover. It is expected that this regulation will finally limit the power of Big Tech companies in Europe, and that certainly has consequences for advertisers.

Focus on 'own' first-party data

Targeting minors and the use of sensitive data for targeting will soon be strictly prohibited. In practice, this means that targeted advertising will soon be prohibited by default, unless the advertising platform can demonstrate that it has not used sensitive data. Along with the disappearance of the third-party cookie, this change will force advertisers to organise their digital marketing differently. First-party data will be the core of this.

When we started depending on Big Tech, we surrendered certain part of the customer relationship. When focusing on their own data, advertisers will take full ownership of the customer relationship again. Data obtained from direct customer contact, surveys, purchases, interaction and click behaviour are more valuable than third-party data and can better guarantee privacy. The challenge is to implement a sustainable marketing strategy with first-party data: not aimed at a specific channel, but broadly across the entire customer journey with first-party data at its core. This means you can make your marketing more sustainable with spearheads such as:

  • Developing and expanding owned media;

  • Contextual targeting to put content in context;

  • Understanding and improving the customer relationship with an RFM model;

  • Personalise all customer communications: from campaigns and landing pages to in-app messaging;

  • Stimulating identification by offering premium content via user-friendly logins;

  • Capture and integration of consent management across devices and journeys.

Focusing on your own data ultimately goes deeper than only focusing on the channels: and it also changes the message.

'Impact of cookieless future on marketing'

In this whitepaper we immerse you completely in the world of cookies, we discuss what exactly is about to happen and how you can prepare your company for this. Exciting!

Header cookieless future | iO

From tracking to trust

Digital marketing is currently mostly short-cycle, aimed at selling as many products or services as possible. Many marketing organisations are geared towards efficiency and focus primarily on technology and processes, and less on the long-term customer relationship. A target group is clicked together via advertising platforms and the desired advertising target is selected.

The big question is to what extent this vision approaches reality: do the advertising options offered by your chosen platform provide the right angle for your ideal customers? Are you also reaching valuable customers with a high customer lifetime value with this method, for example? What is the best way to communicate with them? Wouldn't an offline channel be a better fit?

In fact, the death of the cookie and the upcoming European legislation can be seen as a blessing in disguise. It forces advertisers to immerse themselves in the customer, to use their own data and to recalibrate the way in which customers are identified and approached. Where the indicator used to be mainly quantity, in the future it should be more about quality. The big change that advertisers now have to make is to go 'from tracking to trusting'. And that means that well-oiled marketing machine is becoming more human.

Sustainable marketing is about people

Who are you and what do you stand for? Consumers are increasingly looking for brands with a purpose and principles that they can identify with. This includes core values ​​such as sustainability, inclusiveness, privacy and ethics. Employees also reflect on their work and their impact on the world, according to Gartner. How interesting is a marketing job when it's all about technology and not about people? Marketing should therefore be about customer representation within the organisation and continuously wanting to get to know the customer: thinking about people and emotions instead of profiles and targeting. Creativity and humanity ensure real brand relevance.

Review the customer relationship

Where the GDPR was largely a legal intervention, the impact of these developments in the future will be much broader. It's not a marketing party. In fact, it represents an opportunity for transformation and for the entire organisation to become customer-centric and to rethink the entire customer relationship. Addressing target groups and turning sales turns into better understanding customers, and helping them further. Optimising becomes assisting. That requires experimentation, trying things out, testing, analysing and gaining experience for tomorrow. Ultimately, it should be about creating an equal, valuable customer relationship. Once customers realise what you stand for as a brand, you’ll really stand out in the market.

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Andries Hiemstra | iO
About the author
Andries Hiemstra
Client Services Director - iO

As a digital veteran, Andries has been pursuing his passion for over 14 years. Today, he is strategically and commercially responsible for a select group of clients and holds prestigious titles like those of trusted advisor, innovative connector and creative, critical thinker. They reflect how he crafts lasting customer relationships – using the right mix of people, resources, knowledge and capacity.

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