David Spencer, Chief Technology Officer, UK at acceleration believes conversion APIs can help marketers build a solid first-party data foundation, allowing them to continue engaging their audiences and measuring performance.
A number of unprecedented changes driven by the increased focus on consumer privacy protection are going to impact how marketers go about their business in the very near future.
Third-party cookies have been fundamental to digital marketing measurement, so their loss will inevitably mean a change to how we track and understand consumer data. These changes cover more than just third-party cookies, too. Web browsers are prioritising user privacy — quite rightly — by limiting the data that websites and devices can capture.
Google's Chrome — used by more than 2.6 billion people around the world — is adding greater protections for consumers, while Apple's Safari has also upgraded its privacy features. Mozilla's Firefox is taking an even more forceful stance, turning on its Total Cookie Protection feature for all users by default in June this year.
The changes don't stop there, either. Regulators’ interpretations of General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are redefining how consumer data is collected, stored, and utilised by users in certain jurisdictions.
The upshot is that marketers need to adopt an innovative always-on mindset now if they want to drive growth and prevent revenue loss from cookie-reliant marketing in future. Some might regard these changes as the death knell for marketing as we know it, but the truth is that this is actually a perfect opportunity for marketers to re-examine their practice and the value they bring to brands.
Effective marketing can be respectful of privacy
As we move to a fully digital economy, giving people complete control of their data is both a welcome and necessary move. Being respectful of privacy and effective marketing are not mutually exclusive concepts. With the appropriate approach — and technologies — it is perfectly possible to do both.
Marketing can no longer be built around third-party data — instead it needs to be first party. It is vital marketers develop a roadmap for a first-party data driven approach. This must revolve around building a pipeline for collecting the information they need for all of their media and marketing efforts.
There are three critical principles to doing this. First, is to take a flexible approach. Think about building processes and implementing solutions that enable you to pivot quickly as the landscape evolves. It’s important to bear in mind that as big as the changes that are happening now are, they certainly won't be the last.
Secondly, the data collection needs to happen in real time, and it needs to be ‘always-on’. If this principle is not followed, marketers won't be able to make quick decisions or see whether their choices are having the desired effect.
Finally, it is important to be transparent. Customers should be clear about what data marketers are collecting from them, how it's being used, and why it is beneficial to them. Without following these principles, marketers will struggle to build loyalty, trust and brand integrity.
Utilising Conversion APIs to drive better ROI
While this might sound like a lot, there are some tools that can help marketers to build this pipeline. These tools are part of a multi-layer approach to boosting measurement.
It starts with activating Google Signals which allows marketers to unify first-party data from Google’s signed-in users and, by way of an anonymised process, conduct cross-device reporting and remarketing.
In a second step, marketers can apply GA4’s machine learning capabilities to consent mode and model the behaviour of users who opted out of tracking on the behaviour or similar users who instead consented to analytics. Data modelling allows for insightful data analysis while respecting user privacy preferences.
Finally, Conversion APIs or CAPIs, which are provided by Google, Meta, Snap, and TikTok enable the private collection and matching of consumers' personally identifiable information (PII) directly to a conversion. This data is one-way hashed before being transmitted to the vendors, delivered via a server-side API connection which is both secure and legal.
There are two upsides to using CAPIs. First, they will future-proof marketers measurement practices as they don't rely on third-party cookies. Their continually improving features and integrations will bring further benefits down the line too.
Secondly, CAPIs bring overall improvements to measurement by providing an uplift in tracked conversions. While the aforementioned changes to third-party cookies, browsers and privacy regulations result in a reduced ability to measure, using CAPIs will mitigate this signal loss and allow conversions to be measured consistently.
Advertisers who implemented Enhanced Conversions have seen a conversion uplift of 17% on YouTube. This shows how using advanced analytics tools can help marketers gain a deeper understanding of media performance to make better buying and bidding decisions.
Get ready to go first-party
Preparation is crucial for the changes that marketers now face. With a solid foundation for first-party data collection they can establish a strong data pipeline that will mitigate cookie depreciation.
But using CAPIs to boost conversions is only one way marketers can continue to prove their worth. To stay ahead of change they must adopt a mindset and culture that allows them to quickly and consistently innovate and explore new methods that both respect privacy and chime with the brand’s ultimate goals. If they can achieve this, they will be in the best position to succeed and earn greater trust within their organisation and consumers.
By David Spencer
Chief Technology Officer, UK