Staff Writer
Nov 16, 2023

How omnichannel and identity are reshaping the marketer’s playbook

Deploying omnichannel strategies in lockstep with using first-party data for identity-based targeting can help marketers combat a key challenge — making optimal allocations of marketing budgets that are expected to work harder than ever before.

(L-R) Atifa Silk, managing director, Campaign Asia-Pacific; Kevin Tsang, VP and head of distribution & marketing, Blue; Richard Brosgill, CEO, APAC, Assembly; Jo Chow, lead associate account director, The Trade Desk
(L-R) Atifa Silk, managing director, Campaign Asia-Pacific; Kevin Tsang, VP and head of distribution & marketing, Blue; Richard Brosgill, CEO, APAC, Assembly; Jo Chow, lead associate account director, The Trade Desk
The pace of technological change in marketing has been relentless: third-party cookies are set to vanish even as a new suite of digital identity solutions gain ground. Faced with shrinking budgets as well as an abundance of options, CMOs face the challenge of making the most appropriate allocations at a time when everything appears to be a priority.  
The Trade Desk and Campaign Asia-Pacific jointly organised ‘The CMO Dialogue’ in Hong Kong to share insights into how CMOs are grappling with these questions and the solutions being deployed to meet their business goals.
Picking the right identity solution
With the impending sunset of third-party cookies, first-party data has grown more important. However, as Kevin Tsang, VP and head of distribution and marketing at digital insurance company Blue observed, “While such data provides essential insights into consumer behaviour and improves targeting within particular sub-segments, its impact can be blunted when growing new segments.”
Identity solutions can bridge this gap and help marketers stay ahead of the curve via effective tracking and targeting. Encryption technologies ensure that no personally identifiable information (PII) is shared during the process. For instance, Unified ID 2.0 (UID2), can preserve the value of relevant, cross-channel advertising without compromising users’ privacy. Initiated by The Trade Desk in collaboration with other industry bodies, UID2 scrubs authenticated data of any PII such as an email or phone number. The Trade Desk recently partnered with Walmart Connect to test the integration of UID2 to leverage the chain’s wealth of first-party data, which enables advertisers to target audiences more effectively across multiple platforms.
However, identity solutions are still a work in progress, given the imperfection of data and the lack of interoperability among different solutions from various adtech and martech companies.
“There are definitely gaps, especially as many identity solutions are still in the development stage,” said Tsang. “How to unify them and optimise by profile is still unclear. For the moment, the best method is to collect as much data as possible to give you the flexibility of merging at a later stage.”
It is natural for leaders to get overwhelmed when having to choose between multiple identity solutions. To narrow the consideration set, marketers ought to evaluate the effectiveness of these solutions in line with existing metrics such as audience match rates or engagement expansion. Richard Brosgill, CEO for Asia Pacific at global omnichannel media agency Assembly, suggested that the extent of usage and adoption may serve as a strong indicator of effectiveness. He said, “The more people that use a particular identity solution, the more data it ingests, eventually building a more comprehensive picture of the audience. This level of data allows for greater accuracy in any analysis or modelling. In other words, the bigger the scale, the richer the data, and the more precise the solution.”
For the successful adoption of a solution, leaders need to ensure an organisation-wide alignment on a tool’s ability to fit business needs, KPIs, and existing infrastructure. Engaging with external partners like publishers on the use of data helps improve the understanding among marketers on the interpretation and use of data in line with their own metrics. Brosgill said, “Starting with a clearly defined business goals is critical to driving cross-platform success. This gives you and your team a north star when understanding how the platform’s strengths plays into your overarching objectives, while simultaneously allowing you to test, refine and optimise your initiatives to better serve your business ambitions.”
Leveraging omnichannel for a holistic customer journey
Omnichannel strategies have completely rewritten how brands can optimise the customer journey. With omnichannel groundwork in place, brands derive a holistic view across devices, targeting strategies, and channels, according to Jossie Liu, senior account manager at The Trade Desk. She added, “You can then draw insights from the whole user journey by understanding how consumers are engaged.”
Effective omnichannel approaches harness the advantages of each channel. Television, for example, has immense credibility, while digital platforms enable a wider range of options for brand building. Describing the difference between omnichannel strategies in the pre-digital era and now, Calvin Chan, chief executive officer of VIOOH China, said, “In the old days, you had the artistry of understanding without science to back you up, and now you have a lot of data and can connect across these channels.”
Gavin Merriman, head of consumer for Asia Pacific at Moët Hennessy, noted the importance of data in understanding each channel’s ability to drive collective results, citing learnings from three programmatic multi-channel campaigns. Cross-media studies revealed that using multiple channels led to a notable improvement in key performance indicators, regardless of market. In Australia, a campaign using three channels saw a 3.6x lift in spontaneous awareness compared to a single-channel test campaign, while a two-channel campaign in Hong Kong doubled the conversion rate of the test campaign and reduced the cost per acquisition (CPA) by 48%, underscoring the effectiveness of an omnichannel approach.
Budget challenges can also be addressed by omnichannel strategies which help marketers create a holistic journey, retargeting, and re-engaging audiences across multiple touchpoints without breaking the bank. In a case study from 2021, a Hennessy campaign for Hong Kong took a multi-channel approach to drive more cost-effective results. By consolidating its media buys through The Trade Desk’s DSP, the brand utilised videos and a high-impact, interactive basketball ad to engage both cognac drinkers and younger audiences. Compared to a single channel, leveraging multiple media channels helped increase its brand exposure with 48% lower cost per action.
A common challenge when it comes to omnichannel strategies is the difficulty of getting real-time feedback for campaign optimisation. Liu shared that The Trade Desk invests heavily in artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce guesswork. She said, “I’d advise brands to map out and access your first-party data because that’s where it begins. It will help your AI and platforms navigate your audiences through the targeting stretch.”
With programmatic commanding an increasing share of digital spends, Chan predicted that data’s centrality would only grow, bringing increasing granularity into audience segmentation.
Sustaining growth in unpredictable times
Growing brands and businesses through global crises such as geopolitical tensions and internal disruptions, such as digital transformation, was another key theme.
For smart marketers, this disruption also carries the seeds of opportunity. Sidhanth Gopishetty, then-regional general manager for marketing and customer engagement at Toys’R’Us Asia, believed it was a chance for marketers to “get straight to the point,” eschewing the need for big-budget productions or unnecessary messaging. For Alice Au, group director of digital marketing at Wharf Hotels, the collapse of different mediums into a single online funnel has expanded marketers’ ability to execute omnichannel strategies.
Another key issue that arose during the panel was about how marketers should prioritise budgets for digital spend. “First, you need to think about your audience — who are you targeting?” said Alex Lo, lead senior client strategy director for The Trade Desk’s Hong Kong and Taiwan operations. “Then, think of the platform, which third-party technology can help you find the right place to improve your operations to get to the right audience.”
While the adoption of digital platforms continues to trend upward, consumers have become increasingly unwilling to share data. These attitudes do vary region-to-region, but they require marketers to adopt a more conscientious approach to collecting customer data and motivating audiences.
“The key is the entry point, so we learn how to contact the customer,” said Gopishetty. “Especially with the hot button, once customers make a purchase, we try to incentivise them to get them to the next level.”
That said, marketers must be mindful that different jurisdictions will have varying approaches to data collection, thus requiring a variety of approaches between markets. Finally, one of the most critical questions marketers are grappling with is the best way to measure brand success. The danger is relying on vanity metrics or measurement strategies that may have worked in the past but are now irrelevant. The Trade Desk’s Lo highlighted the importance of working towards goals that move the dial and said, “We want to help brands to be more aligned with their business objective — you don't want to drive people to just click on your ads.”
Campaign Asia

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