Data – The Key Competitive Differentiator

Over the last 10 years, the use of customer data in digital advertising and marketing has become increasingly sophisticated and targeted.  

The future of Digital Advertising is all about data. In a recent survey, 90% of executives believe data is becoming a key competitive differentiator within organisations and across industries. For those who see a future shaped by AI, the same survey by Accenture points out that AI will not reach its full potential until companies figure out how to apply data. Any way you look at it, the increasingly smart application of data for understanding and growth will determine success.

Advances in technology and the availability of data have allowed companies to segment audiences more precisely and deliver personalized marketing messages that are more likely to resonate with individual consumers and prospects.  

There has also been a shift towards using data to measure the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Companies are now able to track how their advertising spend translates into sales and adjust their marketing strategies accordingly.  

Both these applications of data use have been beneficial and will continue to develop in sophistication.  

With the demise of cookies, and the rise of privacy protections, many brands have been encouraged to re-trench to first party customer re-engagement. There’s nothing wrong with this of course, but some agencies are being bolder and pointing out that with the effective use of data, targeted prospecting o non-customers engagement is about to get turbo-charged and enable genuine competitive advantage.

Where it all started

First though, a potted history of how the current data landscape in digital advertising has evolved would introduce the scale of this opportunity.

Here’s some of the significant events over the last 20 years:

*  Introduction of Cookies: In 1994, the first HTTP cookie was developed, which enabled websites to save user preferences and data. In the following years, cookies were developed further for advertising purposes, allowing advertisers to track user behaviour.

* Introduction of AdWords: In 2000, Google launched its AdWords platform, allowing brands to place text ads on its search pages. This marked the beginning of keyword-based advertising.

*  Launch of Facebook Ads: In 2007, Facebook launched its advertising platform, which allowed advertisers to target users based on demographics, interests, and behaviours

* Introduction of Programmatic Advertising: Around 2009, programmatic advertising started to allow advertisers to use algorithms to buy and display ads in real-time

*  Introduction of GDPR: In 2016, the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was adopted by the European Union. This regulation requires companies to obtain explicit user consent for data processing and gives users control over their data.

*  Apple's Intelligent Tracking Prevention: In 2017, Apple introduced Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), which limits third-party cookie tracking on Safari browsers.

*  CCPA: In 2018, California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), which gives US consumers similar rights to the EU  consumers on data being collected about them and the right to request it’s deletion.

These events have significantly impacted the way consumer data is collected, processed, and used in digital advertising and marketing. They have also informed the future of data driven digital advertising as the market continues to adapt and evolve.  

So, what happens next?

The future of consumer data application in digital advertising and marketing is likely to be driven by several trends:

* Data privacy regulations: Governments around the world are implementing data privacy regulations to protect consumer rights. The appropriate use of consumer data will be essential.

* Rise of first-party data: With the phasing out of third-party cookies, first-party data - data collected directly from the customer - will be organised in Customer Data Platforms to manage, and in some ways re-trench to customer re-engagement either in-house or through external suppliers.  

* New Cookie-less Targeting of non-customers: The translation of vast customer databases into actionable cookie-less indicators as a currency across all platforms is already possible. Sub2 is leading the way in competitive advantage technologies for prospecting. This is set to become more sophisticated and apply to anyone who has visited your website but not bought and even to those visiting for the first time – all through cookie-less real-time consumer scoring.  Artificial intelligence and machine learning will play an increasingly important role in this process of providing insights for digital advertising and marketing that could enable significant competitive advantage for brands that engage.

Savvy marketers understand that the intelligent use of data for generating new business, balanced with the privacy and data protection rights of consumers, will always be crucial. The future of consumer data in digital advertising and marketing will continue to be shaped by these trends.