Apple’s privacy crusade culminated at the turn of the decade when the tech titan proposed plans to phase out Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) from its operating system.
The announcement shook up the $300 billion digital advertising industry as marketers lost access to a rich set of clickstreams and granular data on consumer profiles, which had made it possible for them to deliver highly targeted and personalised ads.
Hardest hit were internet giants whose revenue model relied heavily on tracking users across devices. And the tremors from the revelation continue to reverberate, with Facebook and Google expected to see up to a $10 billion and $17 billion drop in ad revenue, respectively, by year’s end.
IDFA deprecation, as the numbers show, is acting as a catalyst for the industry at large to break away from the duopoly of Facebook and Google.
That raises the question: What can brands do to understand, reach and connect with consumers as they look towards a future beyond device-based identifiers?
The answer lies in multichannel marketing.
Growing emphasis on cross-channel marketing
Publishers have been getting a kick out of retargeting through Facebook Pixel and Google Ads to improve ad performance over the past decade. All marketers had to do to locate the next batch of leads was pass on the identifiers of profitable customers to be mapped against the billions of users on these major platforms.
Now that retargeting has been made infinitely harder, thanks to Apple and Google’s decision to ditch cross-app tracking, it’s become imperative for advertisers to double down on drawing in new users across channels while retaining and engaging existing ones.
But implementing a cross-channel marketing plan in a world without trackable users is proving to be a Herculean task for resource-strapped marketers and agencies.
More networks, more problems
The growing glut of digital advertising networks isn’t helping either
The sheer number of networks saturating the ad brokerage market is leaving marketers flustered as to which ones would best suit their needs for activating and monitoring campaigns.
To complicate matters further, each network offers a unique set of targeting tools and auction dynamics, making it practically impossible to optimise performance based on KPIs at scale without large teams managing demanding optimization processes around the clock.
Next steps for marketers
This is all to say marketers now have double the work to yield results in a market bereft of user-level insights but full of networks vying for the same slice of the ad pie.
To navigate these tricky waters, marketers must determine where target customers spend their time and actively establish an overarching presence across those channels. The following list of best practices can help marketers keep their eyes on the prise by stepping up their multichannel efforts:
1. Know your customer
Building out a detailed customer persona is the first step to nailing down the multichannel game. Without it, developing an effective communications strategy, which forms the basis of any well-oiled marketing strategy, becomes a painful and expensive guessing game.
If you’ve been keeping track of direct-to-consumer data, kudos to you – defining the target audience has just gotten a whole lot easier. But no need to sweat if you haven’t been cultivating a walled garden of your own. Certain tracking techniques like fingerprinting and reverse DNS can help you define your ideal customer profile.
2. Choose the right channels
Effective marketing can be an expensive affair. And unless you’re ready to hand out blank checks, it wouldn’t be wise to invest ad dollars across every available channel.
The good news is choosing the appropriate channels becomes pretty much self-explanatory once you have the persona research. Start by putting money into the ones readily available data shows are the best fit for your customers, and then expand into other channels as your campaigns lift off.
3. Centralise and standardise your analytics (tip: leverage automation)
Targeting customers across multiple touchpoints is Marketing 101. The real challenge comes when they start jumping back and forth between different channels, and the resulting dataflows stack up to the point where tracking down relevant data turns into finding needles in a haystack.
In that vein, implementing automation has become critical to campaign success. All-in-one tools that provide a 360-degree view of cross-channel metrics unified under an umbrella model will help marketers navigate and visualise vast oceans of data, making it a breeze to adjust the marketing mix based on what worked and didn’t.
Advertising lives on
The phaseout of device-based identifiers is dealing a blow to the digital marketing industry.
That’s not to say effective digital advertising is drawing to an end. It simply means marketers will have to refine their methods and processes to put relevant ads in front of customers.
With the right strategy and tools to empower seamless engagement and optimization across channels, the future of digital marketing will shine even brighter than its past.
Sophie Eom is co-founder and CEO of ad ops platform Adriel, based in Seoul.