Morden Chen
May 18, 2022

Finding a way forward with first-party data

An alternative tracker-less future can mean new opportunities for brands including an avenue into machine learning, says Moloco’s Morden Chen.


Change is afoot in the world of mobile-app marketing. Apple rolled out App Tracking Transparency (ATT), and earlier this year, Google announced a multi-year plan to build the Privacy Sandbox on Android to limit the sharing of user data with third parties. Simply put, mobile-app marketers have been put on notice: either you convince users why they should allow you to track their behaviour, or you find another way to target, measure and optimise your campaigns.

Given that iOS tracking opt-in rates are currently hovering around the 25-30% mark, most are going to have to go with the latter.

However, that means brands that traditionally rely on tracking to assess the efficacy of specific channels for their campaigns, or to retarget and re-engage customers may find themselves grappling with the changes and struggling to pivot. 

Smart marketing in the current era may at first glance seem to be bound within the ‘walled gardens’ of Google or Facebook to capitalise on their troves of data, but marketers should not have to resign themselves to this option. So, where could an alternative tracker-less future take us?

Death of the cookie can mean new opportunities

Many savvy marketers are already testing, experimenting, and succeeding with tracker-free alternatives. This is a step in the right direction considering how global consumer surveys have revealed that 85% of consumers would like brands to only use first-party data.  

By making the most of their own first-party data and supplementing it with contextual targeting, businesses can continue to effectively target and reach their customers. Providing useful background information for businesses to better understand customer behaviour, contextual data helps organisations analyse important areas like historical purchase, locations, milestones, social media activity and more.

Indeed, first-party data can be a critical tool for businesses to differentiate themselves and drive growth. Since this is information that consumers themselves are willing to share, it’s generally more accurate, consistent, and timely; allowing businesses to create personalised and relevant customer experiences.

Of course, embracing a new approach may require a major mindset shift; but for those who are able to collect and monetize their first-party data, there are plenty of advantages to be enjoyed. For instance, once empowered with information that comes directly from their customers, organisations would have successfully wrestled control for their own path forward, able to better optimise campaigns, determine an individual’s intent, or increase interest and engagement for an ad.

Building and growing first-party datasets

But this future is much easier said than done. Marketers need to first start by building a viable dataset that they can rely on and achieving a thorough understanding of users, their user journeys, and the value they derive from using the brand’s product or service is key.  The quality of a first-party dataset rests on having a system to collect and organise it, and there are some important steps marketers should take:

  • Begin with mapping users and their activities in their core products or services  - this includes the various touchpoints, channels, journeys.
  • Gather data by instrumenting the core user journeys and engagement activities using a mix of analytics, MMPs (mobile measurement partner) or other data gathering tools.
  • Organise data into user profiles, segments and audiences by combining with data from CRM (customer relationship management) or other business systems into a CDP (customer data platform) or CDW (customer data warehouse) or others.
  • Invest in processes and tools to enhance, operationalise and manage this system - be it for internal business intelligence and analytics, or to export, share, or stream data to partners.

Powered by machine learning

To realise the full potential of leveraging first-party data, marketers also need to be well-versed on different data strategies, and the right machine learning platform can take performance to even greater heights.  When first-party data is combined with ML capabilities, precious insights can be uncovered to improve ad performance by driving cost-efficient and lower-funnel conversion events.

In fact, businesses in Asia Pacific are already reaping the rewards. Take GS SHOP, South Korea’s first ever TV home-shopping company who set its sights on the mobile shopping market. Knowing that attracting new users was only the first step, the company aimed to turn individuals into repeat customers.

Previously monopolised by tech giants, machine-learning algorithms are becoming more accessible, and all for the betterment of the industry. The rise of a more democratised adtech landscape through the open cloud and machine learning will undoubtedly help businesses respond to the changing landscape while still offering personalised experiences that sustain and accelerate their business. Clearly, the most successful brands in the future will be those who prioritise, buy, or partner with technology that will enable them to carve out their own path using their own data and explore the world beyond ‘walled gardens’.  

Morden Chen is business director, GCR & SEA, at Moloco.

Campaign Asia

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