Phil Duffield, VP UK at The Trade Desk, unpacks the challenges he has gleaned from their latest research, and offers some insights…
As the marketing industry dusts itself off post-pandemic peak, optimism is in the air. Budgets are steadily expanding, shops have opened their doors and consumers bustle along high streets again.
But not everything is smelling of roses. Expanding ad budgets are happening against a backdrop of rising inflation and low consumer confidence. Clearly, the circumstances won’t allow marketers to kick back and relax. Change is the only constant in our fast-paced industry, so, we wanted to know, what’s really keeping brand marketers up at night?
There’s plenty to choose from: am I paying the right amount for each ad impression? Will consumers see or pay attention to my message in a fragmented media landscape? Do walled gardens skew measurement results and dominate data flow? How will I cope when third-party cookies are whipped away?
The Trade Desk conducted a study, using the Delphi method, with a variety of world-leading brands and quizzed them on these issues and more, to find out what’s top of marketers’ to-do lists today.
What became apparent is that a few challenges are making marketers sweat markedly more than others. The good news is that three actionable steps can go some way to helping tackle them; first, developing an identity strategy, second, onboarding trusted strategic partners and last, but not least, establishing independence from walled gardens.
Take a proactive approach to identity
When asked what bothered them most when it comes to reach, the number one concern for brand marketers was that fragmentation in both the media landscape and consumer attention were the biggest challenges when connecting with audiences consistently and meaningfully (about half of respondents agreed).
This fragmentation makes it more important than ever to have a way to unify consumer data so marketers can understand where consumers are spending their time and what their preferences are.
At the same time, many of the marketers we spoke to agreed that, without first-party data and with the demise of third party cookies, it’s concerning that the effectiveness of third party data segments will be significantly reduced and will negatively impact data-driven marketing strategies. Clearly, a significant segment of brand marketers are pondering the phasing out of cookies and rightfully so. As the end date draws closer, we can only expect this number to rise - and with it, more marketers recognising that this change brings with it a crucial opportunity to ‘do’ data better.
Now is the time to be proactive in exploring alternative ways to make the most of third party data as well as starting to implement strategies for collecting first party data. For those marketers reliant on third party sources, as cookies phase out that data will be more influenced by alternative sources. Marketers have the perfect opportunity to smarten up on what these other sources are and how to best use them.
Expert data partners, such as those that can be activated within The Trade Desk platform, can use emerging alternative identifiers to model consumer segments with new methods and data inputs. Marketers who move quickly to learn what’s on offer and get asking the right questions, will find themselves at a significant competitive advantage. A smart, data-driven future for your brand relies on getting on the front foot now.
Onboard trusted partners
Whilst it is widely agreed that taking control of consumer data is vital, brand marketers are finding it tricky to decide how. In fact, when we asked marketers for their top concerns relating to the issue of trust, they broadly agreed that keeping up with the proliferation of identity options is tricky as they also need to meet compliance requirements and respect their customers’ data. This concern speaks to the integrity of modern marketers and shouldn’t be overlooked. Fortunately, onboarding trusted tech providers can help. Lean on the experience and industry knowledge of partners that have experience in managing and activating first-party data in a compliant way, and let them do the hard work for you.
Even better, some strategic consultants are actively working to push forward the fairest, most transparent identity options to win market share and prevent less trust-worthy or self-serving options from gaining traction.
Other important concerns facing brands marketers include: the struggle to find media buying partners with sufficient access to global inventory that can deliver the required scale, which means they potentially miss out on a significant volume of advertising opportunities; and a concern around lack of transparency in the media supply chain – leading to worries that they may not be paying the right price for an impression. These issues clearly point to a demand for global scale and transparency in the supply chain - both problems a trusted tech provider can help tackle. From inventory access to knowing if the ad price is right, the experts are here for a reason - they can help ease these concerns.
Establish independence from walled gardens
Most respondents in The Trade Desk’s focus group were dissatisfied with the walled gardens’ opaque solutions for measuring results, as well as the asymmetry in their relationship with these ecosystems when it comes to managing audience data.
By their very nature, walled gardens are opaque and do not nurture competition. Whilst they offer specific routes to logged-in audiences, marketers would be making a mistake to concentrate too much spend behind their walls. Establishing independence isn’t about cutting all investment in walled garden ads - it’s about diversifying.
YouGov data shows that in 2020, UK consumers spent 66% of their time online on the open internet and only 34% on walled garden sites. Being both bigger and more transparent than walled gardens, the open internet can offer marketers access to a wide range of emerging opportunities: from the once-in-a-generation shift to CTV consumption, to being able to prove the connection between their campaigns and in-store sales, thanks to new retail data opportunities.
Taking control is easy
The marketing landscape may be more technologically advanced and complex than it ever has been before, but that’s by no means a bad thing. The marketing capabilities we have today are beyond anything imaginable just a few years ago. At the same time, many players in the advertising ecosystem are working together to deliver results in ways that are privacy-conscious and beneficial to both consumers and brands.
But the rough always accompanies the smooth and some major challenges lay before brand marketers. The good news is that actionable steps can clear the path to success.
Equipped with a solid alternative identity solution, trusted partners and a healthy independence from walled gardens, marketing teams will have all the tools they need to supercharge their brand in 2022 and beyond.