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. At the same time, consumer expectations around advertising continue to evolve, forcing the industry to respond with sweeping changes regarding how advertising currency (cookies, third-party data, etc.) is transacted.
To continue to participate in the consumer journey meaningfully and seamlessly, marketers must identify where and how consumers spend their time on an individual level. To further build on these people-based interactions, marketers have increasingly turned to walled gardens, despite advertising spend in those digital channels outpacing the amount of time consumers spend there.
Walled gardens are likely one reason the majority of marketers struggle to connect marketing channels to deliver omnichannel personalization. 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.
One challenge I’ve heard from marketers looking to break out of walled gardens is a lack of consumer-level, cross-channel data. Facebook, 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.
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.
Foursquare made its first acquisition last year with Placed to bolster foot-traffic-based attribution, adding more than 450 measurable media partners to its portfolio. LinkedIn snapped up Drawbridge in May to “help its customers reach and understand their target audiences.” In one of the biggest pieces of technology acquisition news, Roku, the platform with 30.5 million active accounts, acquired dataxu to grow its self-serve ad buying capabilities.
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 ingests for targeting — as well as some form of third-party data enabled targeting — to pinpoint users who look similar to 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 the California Consumer Privacy Act 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 machine learning 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 of the ecosystem will stick as a pain point for marketers. eMarketer suggested the hold of walled gardens can’t last. 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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