By Kristina Prokop, CEO and co-founder, Eyeota
As we move deeper into 2021, the desperate search for identity solutions that can smooth marketing organizations’ transitions to a cookieless world is reaching a fever pitch. There’s no shortage of new identifiers and identity technologies vying for attention — and that’s a big part of the problem. Despite a plethora of options, marketers are having to come to terms with the fact that there is no silver bullet that’s going to enable their current data strategies to continue uninterrupted.
For the most part, the identity solutions inundating marketers right now are either woefully incomplete on their own, or they represent such a massive undertaking that all but a few elite marketing organizations are incapable of bearing their required expense and implementation. As a result, marketers are hitting a point of fatigue in cookieless conversations that could prove detrimental during this key time of planning.
Of course, that doesn’t mean marketers are helpless — far from it. The path to a well-rounded, more sustainable data strategy exists. But marketing teams need to cut through the current noise around identity and push past the looming wall of solutions fatigue in order to get to the other side. Here’s what that looks like.
The hype cycle can help marketers push past looming disillusionment with identity
In considering where our industry currently sits with identity solutions, the Gartner Hype Cycle proves instructive. The sunsetting of third-party cookies in Chrome, in addition to Apple’s deprecation of IDFA and a growing host of new privacy regulations, served as the innovation trigger that kicked the quest for new identity solutions into high gear. Predictably, the industry has been existing within the peak of inflated expectations this past year, and thus, it’s now on the cusp of Gartner’s famed “trough of disillusionment.”
The disillusionment with proposed identity solutions is understandable, especially for marketers operating with limited resources. Moreover, even for organizations with the means of undertaking massive systems transformations to accommodate new identity solutions, an overreliance on deterministic data doesn’t represent a comprehensive or sustainable approach going forward.
As an industry, it’s imperative that marketing teams push past the looming disillusionment surrounding the shift to a cookieless world, focusing instead on what it’s going to take to emerge into what Gartner refers to as the “slope of enlightenment” when it comes to identity.
Probabilistic and deterministic data approaches will be competitive identity advantages
As our industry comes to terms with the fact that a silver-bullet approach to the privacy-first future isn’t feasible, the next logical step will be to get to work on more comprehensive, interoperable and sustainable strategies that can evolve with the landscape.
As marketers develop more mature data strategies, they will be considering all data sources and what mechanisms and technologies can best put those to use. In doing so, they need to be establishing processes and procedures to use both online and offline data to meet their marketing objectives.
When it comes to the question of deterministic versus probabilistic data, marketers aren’t facing an either-or scenario. Rather, the path forward is about a rounded, cohesive data strategy that understands when to use probabilistic cohorts and when to use deterministic one-to-one strategies. Many of today’s proposed identity solutions focus strictly on the latter, however. And while deterministic data is great when it comes to personalization and customer retention, for customer acquisition, probabilistic cohorts represent the path forward.
The urgency of developing stronger first-party data strategies will undoubtedly accelerate over the next year. The key for marketers is to start exploring and building strategies sooner rather than later. The organizations that have already realized the value of cohort methodologies and probabilistic onboarding, on top of any deterministic data strategies, are going to be at a competitive advantage as cookies and other legacy identifiers disappear.
Transcend current challenges will take data audits, outlining goals and partnerships
As organizations look to their next steps in developing first-party data and onboarding strategies that can transcend current challenges within the identity solution landscape, they’d do well to focus on three steps: performing a thorough data audit, creating a clear outline of data goals and working with partners to better understand the various offerings and methodologies.
Understanding all the data sources and where they come from is important for any marketer, including considering which data sources might be affected by changes in the future. Asking what first-party data is available, how it’s currently leveraged, as well as how much of the marketing strategy focuses on retention versus new customer acquisition, will help in performing a thorough data audit. Considering if offline data is currently activated and in which markets the company is currently interested be beneficial as well.
Thinking about what the company needs its data to do, what gaps need to be addressed and where the data needs to be used will help to provide a clear outline of the data goals. To understand the various offerings and methodologies, seeking out partners focusing on ID-agnostic approaches and interoperability can be quite valuable. Marketers who lean on their partners to determine where the offerings and methodologies are best applied, how they work in a technical-sense and what their exposure is to changes in technology, identity and privacy will be in an excellent position moving forward.
The most important thing that marketing organizations can do right now is to get moving, rather than give into the natural fatigue that tends to consume industries when they’re up against massive technology and paradigm upheavals. Changes are coming — and quickly.
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