Adobe on first-party data, data collaborations, and data governance in a cookie-less future

December 3, 2021 Chuck Leddy

A recent webinar from Adobe (free) focused on what strategies, tactics, and actions marketers can take now to change the way they engage customers in the coming cookie-less future. Host Ann Handley and Adobe’s Eric Matisoff (Adobe evangelist for analytics and data science) and Ryan Fleisch (Adobe’s head of product marketing) highlighted 3 practical practices that brands can implement now in order to thrive in our cookie-less future. 

On creating a strategy around first-party data

Matisoff: We're seeing our [Adobe] customers taking an inventory of their data now in light of changes happening to cookies. They want to identify where they are now, where their data is coming from today. How are they using data and where does it live across all of the different MarTech and ad tech solutions?

We recently ran a customer survey to find out where their most valuable data is coming from. They said it’s coming from datasets like digital properties and web analytics, mobile app analytics. But in addition, they’re seeing even more data coming from systems like transactional systems, CRM systems, and even operational data stores.

The customers that I talk to are all over the spectrum in terms of data maturity. Some are centralized and ready to adapt quickly, while others have their DMP, their CRM, and their analytics system where none of them are talking to each other. There's a fundamental shift that’s happening, both in how data is organized and centralized as well as in the technologies that are helping empower and activate that data.

Fleisch: It’s important to separate first-party data from zero-party data. First-party data is data that we might collect via first-party cookies [from domains owned by a brand] to understand customer behaviors. Zero-party data comes from actually having an interaction with the consumer and asking for their consent or their preferences. So when it comes to data strategy, you might have data to understand who someone is, data that helps you understand how customers act or behave, but then overlaying all that with zero-party data to help you understand their preferences. All this helps you build understanding and trust. 

On customer consent in the cookie-less future 

Fleisch: Customer consent needs to start with how much consumers really understand about what they’re actually consenting to. We surveyed marketers, asking if they believed consumers understand what you mean when you ask for consent. Basically, every marketer said “yes, customers understand.” But when we asked consumers, the majority said they understood consent, but then when you went a bit deeper, maybe asking about the meaning of terms or their familiarity with things like GDPR or CCPA, most consumers had no idea what those are.

The first step for consent is keeping it simple and explaining exactly what you're intending to do with the data. I recently went to a new website from the UK, and it was a perfect example. A box popped up and simply said, ‘we use browsing behavior to improve your user experience.’ Then below that it said, ‘which of these preferences are you okay with?’ It gave preference control over which data can be collected from the person. And then it said, ‘if you want to learn more, here's a link.’ It clearly laid out the value proposition for customers getting better experiences by giving their consent and data. And it gave the customer a sense of control. 

On “data collaborations” in the cookie-less future 

Fleisch: In the past, partnering on data sounded dirty. But a whole new category of data collaboration is becoming stronger now. If third-party data was where marketers got their scale in the past, just buying broad swaths of audiences, that tactic is now going away. First-party data is incredible in terms of precision and accuracy, but there's limited scale to it. So it comes down to what data collaborations we can do either within our company or with other brands to get the most extensibility out of that first-party data.

For instance, you might be a brand that has different business units, so you could collaborate on data between business units to enrich profiles and understand the same users across different pieces of your business. You might also have another brand that you've agreed to collaborate with and ask customers to consent to data sharing for both brands.

Each brand can understand a better version of their customers across both brands. There's more brands starting to adopt CDPs and technologies to do this data sharing. They're going to get a good understanding of their consumers, but they might not understand those consumers in terms of everything else the consumer does.  

Finally, there’s an advertising use case. You could just go to a publisher and say, ‘find me people who look like this customer profile or segment.’ You can collaborate with that publisher to say, ‘here's a seed audience that I have, can you help me either find these customers or find similar customers?’ That's a great way to get reach and scale from your available data.

On data governance 

Matisoff: Data governance was once the least sexy thing you could ever talk about. Now, thanks to the requirements of consent, changes to cookies and data privacy from browsers and governments, as well as consumer expectations, data governance is more important than ever.

When we talk about governance, we're talking about how data is collected and used and controlled. Is it going to be used just for analysis, for activation, for data collaboration? And as you're thinking about those governance needs, you also need to ensure you have the right technologies for flagging data and preventing data breaches. A strong data governance infrastructure takes people, processes, and technology.

Related Content: Data Governance for Marketers: A brief guide with your questions answered

Fleisch: How do we actually label data so we know where it came from and what we can do with it?  And as the data comes in, how is it managed? And as data goes out, how is our governance control enforced? Governance is about having the right technology in place that allows you to move from having disparate data systems to having one system across all relevant teams and the entire business that has good governance to it.

To learn more about how your marketing operations team can help your business thrive in the coming cookie-less future, reach out to us today.

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