This is not another hair-on-fire lamentation on how much more difficult consumer intelligence will be because the cookie is going away. Consumer intelligence was a victim of the cookie, and as it crumbles, the industry has a chance to re-focus on the more valuable wellspring of data that’s been there all along.
If you’re running a media campaign, odds are that you’ve been relying heavily on datasets that originate at the data management platform (DMP) level and are comprised mostly of demographic data. This data is gathered, modeled, categorized and stored for the purpose of directing ads at audiences presumed to be interested in a product or service based on the categories their anonymous identity is attached to.
The properties of DMP data are often quite reliable, but static—once collected, it sits in databases waiting to be accessed, it never learns anything and while the pool may grow, the actual identity of a single cell does not.
Relying on DMP data alone doesn’t get you closer to understanding your customer or solving for the growing challenges with identity. In a world of emerging channels, platforms that have unique identity solutions, walled gardens, fragmentation of audience and devices, an ever-growing list of brokers and middlemen, identity itself can’t be normalized.
But insight can be. And the path to it happens to be obvious.
The power of creative
You may recall that Nielsen Catalina published a finding that creative is more than 50% responsible for the success of an ad campaign. Forehead slap emoji! A cookie never created an emotion or a desire, never tickled a need and turned it to action. Creative does that.
And so, creative—and how consumers interact with it—is the absolute best source of insight into what makes consumers do what they do. The experience and technology to unlock that insight exists and, if properly enabled, can provide far more of the actionable insight that has been the last section of data-brokers’ sales decks for a decade.
We call this creative engagement data and it constitutes insights derived from interactions with ads captured through the ad serving process and informed by the iteration of dozens, hundreds or more creative variations. The ad server—specifically, an ad server tuned for this by a dynamic creative optimization (DCO) company—understands how each version of the creative differs and derives its insight by treating each impression as an experiment, logging what happened and returning information to the brand.
Which product in a carousel received the most engagement? Which color of the same product received the most engagement? Were there differences by demographic or location or device or time of day or language or weather or whether the home team won its game last night? The possibilities are endless and only require data sources to correlate, data that is easy to come by, completely reliable and always fresh.
A partner who shows the big picture
In the best of all possible worlds, this is how everyone would be set up. But because of the industry’s over-reliance on the third-party cookie and the many entrenched interests in keeping the status fully quo, it doesn’t always seem as easy as it is. This is why it’s important for companies who care about learning from their campaigns—rather than simply delivering them—to take a step back and evaluate your partner stack.
With so many partners and platforms holding so much partial data, and guarding it closely, it can be tough to put together a sharp picture of a brand’s consumers. It’s like trying to put together a jigsaw puzzle when every piece is a circle.
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