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How Marketers Can Engage in the Omnichannel Consumer Journey

The growing number of owned devices, platforms and channels has created a complex labyrinth where connecting disparate data points to make sound, data-driven targeting decisions is increasingly difficult. 

To continue to provide a meaningful and seamless consumer journey, marketers must identify where and how consumers spend their time on an individual level. To further build on these people-based interactions, marketers have been forced into walled gardens, whose closed-nature largely insulates them from major disruptions to the marketing landscape like the deprecation of the third-party cookie on Chrome in 2024.

But for all the advantages they can present, walled gardens can also make it challenging for marketers looking to deliver cross-channel personalization at scale by their very nature. As marketers strive to align investments to the consumer journey and successfully drive performance, there’s a growing opportunity for publishers and ad tech companies outside walled gardens to support improved omnichannel initiatives.

Here are three ways media companies help marketers invest more in and see improved performance across the open web.

Cross-channel data

One challenge marketers face when trying to break out of walled gardens is a lack of consumer-level, cross-channel data. Meta, Google and Amazon (aka, “The Big Three”) are notorious for their proprietary datasets based around single user logins. As marketers look across the online aisle, they want cross-channel datasets similarly founded on reliable, people-based identifiers, especially with the loss of the third-party cookie in Chrome happening this year.

Beyond data rooted in persistent, verifiable identifiers, marketers have also noted frustration integrating data across channels. A foundation of identity can help resolve signals across channels, platforms and devices to enable advertising across the open web.

Consolidating datasets and technology

Martech and ad tech companies are certainly feeling a change in the tide. Under pressure of massive budgets going to The Big Three, we’ve seen a quickening pace of consolidation happen across the ecosystem. While this pressure is squeezing smaller companies, consolidation is also helping diversify data and technology assets to create more comprehensive solutions for marketers and advertisers.

iSpot snapped up 605 at the tail-end of 2023, growing the TV measurement company’s footprint substantially and expanding its market share on the sell-side. In the next month, Omnicom spent just shy of $1B to acquire Flywheel Digital, bringing in new capabilities to enable cross-retail platform planning, execution and optimization. And 2023’s AI-related acquisitions are almost too numerous to mention in detail, further cementing the AI revolution as a milestone in the development of tomorrow’s digital marketing and connected media landscape.

Third-party data’s the charm

Marketers have consistently turned to platforms like Facebook, Google and Amazon because they make targeting known and unknown users simple and fast. Each enables first-party data ingestion for targeting — as well as some form of third-party data enabled targeting — to pinpoint users who look like the profiles of first-party data samples.

While most brands need some form of modeling or third-party data activation to scale digital campaigns, targeting opaque, disparate audiences within each platform is less than ideal. Further, state-led initiatives like 2018’s California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and potential federal regulation are putting pressure on brands to understand and control the data driving their advertising, which will likely push brands to demand more transparent audience solutions from platforms.

Media companies with AI and data science technology offer a competitive advantage to these solutions by modeling first-party audiences to distribute across channels, devices and platforms, reducing fragmentation across the open web. Further, media companies are increasingly driving more transparent solutions based on visible audience insights and comprehensive data to target known and unknown users.

Go with the flow

As dollars continue to flow to The Big Three, device and audience fragmentation in the ecosystem will stick as a pain point for marketers. New inventory is continuing to open up and compete for an ever-shrinking pool of ad dollars — walled gardens are going to serve as an impediment to increased investment as advertisers look to diversify across platforms and media providers. The more media companies can validate that solutions offer interoperability — balanced with transparent audience creation practices — the closer we are to the turning point.

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