How marketers are amplifying privacy-first targeting with email

Sponsored by Stirista

The advertising industry’s shift toward a privacy-first ecosystem has pushed marketing teams into a state of testing and experimentation. Amid the deprecation of standard identifiers such as third-party cookies and mobile IDs, marketers are striving to find targeting solutions that enable them to reach the right audiences at scale and a high level of accuracy while prioritizing people’s privacy. 

In 2022, the advertising ecosystem is inundated with identity solutions that include numerous tech vendors’ ID graphs and tools, data clean rooms and first-party data matching via walled gardens such as Google and Facebook. Marketing teams are testing many of these tactics while considering that there might not be an end-all-be-all identity solution that provides an unobstructed view of the first-party data they are using. 

Blaine Britten, senior vice president of data strategy at Stirista, a data-driven marketing cloud provider, said there’s an argument against using multiple vendor IDs or walled garden solutions as it can lead to unnecessary hurdles for advertisers. 

“Targeting solutions owned by technology vendors capture the spirit of what the industry is trying to achieve — a unified ID that marketers can build a solution around — but they can create complexities for publishers and advertisers,” said Britten. “Each vendor is vying for their solution to become the standard, and the approach requires multiple middlemen handling data and inevitable attrition due to increased ID sync complexity across channels. Publishers and brands simply want to match their user data where they find overlap, and there’s an opportunity to streamline the process through owning their data and having clear mechanisms for using it.”

Amid the complexities of testing new identity solutions, marketers are approaching a straightforward strategy of matching their first-party customer relationship management (CRM) data with hashed or encrypted email data to segment audiences and discover new targeted ad opportunities effectively. 

Putting email data into action in the digital targeting landscape


First-party, opt-in email data is a critical resource for marketers in reaching their most relevant audiences. Even if users eventually decide to opt out of receiving future campaigns, marketers are still required to retain the data in their system to honor opt-outs if the individual has multiple emails or other points of contact. 

“The advantage marketers have with using their email data in a universally-accepted encrypted form is that they can honor account updates and changes at the user level rather than just the individual PII variable,” said Britten. “Marketers collect explicit opt-ins from people who receive value exchange for that information. If they know who is and is not their current customer base, they can update more quickly, adding new insights or removing people from campaigns without having to send visitor information through multiple parties.”

Still, a key tactic (and challenge) for marketers is finding new and creative ways to incentivize people to share their emails or opt back into communications. Establishing trust among users — i.e., if they share their emails, brands will use them responsibly, and their email data won’t be resold — is also critical in maintaining users’ goodwill and permission to receive future ads. Solutions to the challenges in play include database tech partners that can help advertisers honor user opt-outs and provide a more comprehensive picture of who a customer is, with details such as demographics and household information based on public data. 

Brian Lin, senior vice president of product management and advanced advertising sales at TelevisaUnivision, taps into the company’s first-party data across all touchpoints and Stirista to support its privacy-first data strategy. “With the Hispanic market now representing 20% of the total population and growing, it’s imperative that marketers leverage data sets that are representative and of verified quality so that they can ensure they are reaching the full Hispanic community,” he said. 

Britten at Stirista said larger companies specializing in research and consulting are seeking to help advertisers across a variety of industries. These companies approach technology partners to help collate an authoritative base file of U.S. consumers and the ability to connect different data sets. 

“Say these companies are looking to reach people who have expressed interest in financial markets. That data might be available, but it relies on very specific identifiers, such as a business email,” Britten added. “A company can then use a technology solution to build a base audience and layer in interesting, but smaller data sets from niche data providers to build out an authoritative CRM database.”

For brands that have a customer file from an email but want to understand that customer better, they are working with technology partners to analyze their PII and develop a more persistent identity layer with alternate contacts for future targeting. From there, they can layer in more insights from different data providers, building in publicly available information such as social media handles and phone numbers. 

Building on first-party data and email targeting strategies


In the future, marketing teams can streamline their pursuit of privacy-friendly targeting tactics and audience addressability by activating email data with the support of technology partners. The following insights are helping teams propel their strategies forward:

  • Having a single email for a consumer isn’t the end-all-be-all for brands to effectively activate that data. Marketers account for business emails, personal emails or emails used specifically to receive promotions to create a complete picture of a user. 
  • Marketing teams are seeking database technology partners that can help them get more granular with their PII, providing reports that display demographics by age, gender and interests. These reports help prove to brands that their partners genuinely understand a brand’s audience and how to reach them. 
  • Teams on the marketing and tech partner sides are working to improve how to handle user opt-outs, establishing strategies to remove emails from their system as quickly as possible to honor the wishes of their customers. 

Advertisers are applying these insights to their email targeting strategies to navigate the complex landscape of privacy-compliant identity solutions more effectively and efficiently — a practice that will be key to reaching the right audiences in 2022 and beyond.

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