Staff Writer
May 25, 2021

How B2B marketers are preparing to thrive in a cookieless world

Many companies have long had first-party data but their data strategies have often been minimal. That is about to change with Google’s announcement that they will be removing third-party cookies by 2022.

How B2B marketers are preparing to thrive in a cookieless world
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At an invitation-only roundtable, co-hosted by Campaign Asia in collaboration with The Wall Street Journal, B2B marketing leaders from across APAC discussed new ways to identify, reach and glean insights from audiences in the forthcoming post-cookie, privacy-first world

Since the EU implemented the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in 2018, marketers and publishers have been searching for ways to pivot their digital advertising strategies and innovate in a world where consumer privacy online is better protected. Indeed the search for solutions has intensified with Google’s announcement that they will be removing third-party cookies by 2022 and will not be enabling alternative technologies to track individuals across the internet using their ad buying tools.

“With privacy at the centre of consumers concerns, one of the biggest challenges for marketers is to identify which of the numerous cookieless solutions available will allow them to best know and grow their audiences,” says Campaign Asia’s Matthew Miller, “while at the same time brands are scrambling to build first-party data and publishers are racing to create addressable audiences.”

A new kind of partnership

As the webinar began, Mark Phibbs, vice president, marketing & communications, APJC, Cisco Systems (USA) admitted that third party cookies have allowed us to be lazy in the past. “Those days will soon be over,” he says, “and the need to have a much better marketing experience for our customers so that they identify themselves, in this case on cisco.com, is huge. As such, ownership of data and partnerships with Google and others will be more important than ever.”

As the rules of digital advertising are being rewritten by both regulators and technology platforms, marketers will have to re-think their data strategy and its impact on digital marketing efforts in order to provide value and maintain their place in the ecosystem, says Kevin Tsang, head of brand and digital marketing, Hong Kong, Southeast Asia and Taiwan for Mercer.

“Attribution models will be one of the biggest challenges and the key to success for organisations adapting in a cookieless world,” says Tsang. “To better target audiences, collecting, consolidating and leveraging first-party data is very important, especially for those organisations, both large and small, that can bring their own data to the table.”

The changing role of publishers

For more than 20 years, third party cookies and other mechanisms have given the advertising industry — and the publishers which serve them — the ability to track individuals across the internet. “Advertising has been built upon this fundamental ability so the upcoming changes will have seismic repercussions,” says The Wall Street Journal Barron’s Group’s Julia Clyne, head of media sales & The Trust, Asia Pacific at Dow Jones.

Premium publishers such as The Wall Street Journal and Barron’s, she adds, have already prepared for the new normal by focusing on establishing and deepening  direct digital relationships with audiences which enables us to understand a lot about what audiences want and adapt our products and services accordingly. “One benefit of this deep relationship is the rich first party data we’ve been able to capture which has allowed us to create proprietary advertising products built off our first party data such as a patented contextual targeting tool called Dow Jones Thematic,” says Clyne. “Dow Jones Thematic produces on average 2x the performance of our average campaigns across our digital network in terms of CTR.

Professional services firm Aon aims to inspire its audiences with insights helping them move forward with confidence and certainty to address today’s risks and opportunities , says Singapore-based Maneesh Sah, its head of marketing and communications for Asia. “Building a one-to-one relationship is all about trust; we put great emphasis in creating quality content — content that challenges our current and future clients to think differently about their businesses and start a conversation with us,” he says. “The context in which our messages are presented therefore is very important; it will be interesting to see how organisations such as the Wall Street Journal perfect contextual targeting.”

Solutions, solutions, solutions

For multinational companies in APAC, as well as SMEs, now is the time — if the process has not yet begun — for marketers to take a deep dive into areas such as first-party data strategy and their historical marketing mix to best prepare for a future without third party cookies. Determining how much of their digital strategy has been reliant on third-party data versus first-party data is crucial for marketers in order to design a road map for change.

While many companies have long had first-party data, their data strategies have often been minimal. So while shifting to a first-party data strategy is vital, one of the biggest challenges is choosing the right data management approach.

At HP, Andres Mongrue, head of digital activation for APJ, says the journey began over five years ago when the company built up its tech stack directly with data and tech partners. “The idea was to have more transparency and control of the ecosystem. Collecting first party data is part of that but how you execute and deploy the data is just as important. That’s why we also brought digital media buying in-house so that we’d have a universal approach to using it in meaningful and valuable ways.”

Once you have the data, of course, there are various ways to chart a path to do attribution in a post-cookie world. Clean data is paramount to be able to develop robust  capabilities that provide the ability to accurately identify and glean insights about real people. But figuring out which identity solution is right for one’s own organisation is vital.

Cisco’s Phibbs says his company has been working with Google’s FLoC and FLEDGE, as well as LiveRamp, because they have a high market share.

Others, like HP’s Mongrue, say the strategy is to pilot as many promising solutions as possible, learn from them, and then pivot to what works best. 

“We’ve worked with Google in a couple of markets; we’re looking at Unified IDs; and we’re trying server-to-server integrations with tech companies in some countries — all of these solutions have promise but it’s a matter of finding the right one that will scale to our needs over time.”  

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