By Jonathan Ricard, Chief Strategy Officer & GM, Agency at Resonate
Amid escalating privacy regulations, unilateral walled garden changes and the eventual deprecation of third-party cookies, brands are turning to their agency partners to help guide them through a sea of change and uncertainty. How prepared are agencies to serve as their navigators within the future landscape of data-driven marketing?
The truth is, today’s agencies have a lot of their own pivoting to do in order to help clients continue to meet consumer expectations for personalized experiences, while maintaining compliance with an ever-shifting array of privacy regulations and policies. In partnership with Digiday, Resonate recently released new findings from a survey of agency leaders regarding their current and future approaches to data-driven personalization on behalf of their clients—and the results were eye-opening.
According to the survey, about half (48 percent) of agency leaders say their agencies’ own data infrastructures are currently very important to their brand clients, and 65 percent expect those infrastructures to become even more important upon the deprecation of third-party cookies. In order to meet rising client expectations, let’s take a look at four areas where agencies should be investing.
For years now, the advertising industry has obsessed over an end state in which brands can connect on a one-to-one level with consumers. “Right person, right time, right channel, right message”—right? Well, maybe not. While this one-to-one paradigm has always seemed somewhat unattainable, its difficulty is now being exacerbated by eventual cookie deprecation and new privacy measures.
The fact is that one-to-one marketing, as the industry has historically discussed it, has never been as compelling or attainable a goal as marketers were led to believe. And now, under the pressure of marketplace forces, the industry has at last started moving to a realization of the importance of one-to-many and one-to-few capacities. For agencies, it’s important to start shifting expectations and conversations around personalization—not only according to what’s possible, but also what’s desirable.
Educating Clients on First-Party Data
As agencies educate their clients on the new vision for personalization in a privacy-first and cookieless world, they also need to be setting expectations for brands as it relates to the role of first-party data going forward. Agencies need to be clear about the need to prioritize first-party data and identity strategies in the wake of cookie deprecation and privacy changes, and to establish a clear plan for onboarding and integrating this data with insights derived elsewhere.
All brands—even those with smaller pools of first-party customer data—need to be prepared to leverage those assets for direct personalization efforts where possible. But more importantly, they need to be leaning into those assets to better understand their customers and build one-to-few and one-to-many engagement and acquisition models, at scale.
Tapping Third-Party Data for Scale, Recency and Relevance
According to our survey, less than half of agency leaders (44 percent) say their current data infrastructures and personalization strategies are ready to continue without third-party cookies—and that’s a problem. In addition to guiding clients from a strategic standpoint, agencies also need to be up-leveling their own data infrastructures and opening doors to new streams of fresh data that help them solve challenges around scale, recency and relevance. At present, a significant portion of agencies rank scale, recency and relevance as top challenges in delivering on data-driven opportunities in the evolving marketing landscape, and it’s precisely those challenges that should focus agencies’ efforts as they seek new data solutions and partnerships that can help their clients continue to drive effective personalization going forward.
Partnering Insights with Activation
Finally, there’s the ever-important consideration of being able to move from insights to decisions to action—an area where most agencies admit that they struggle despite the fact that today’s brands are in search of partners that can guide their efforts from initial planning all the way through to execution. At present, only 18 percent of agencies say that activation is a frictionless process that almost anyone on their team can handle. Therein lies a challenge—and an opportunity.
Today’s agencies have no shortage of access to consumer insights and audiences, but what they really need are partnerships that can help them put these insights into action by pushing audience segments to a DSP or social platform.
The evolving privacy and identifier landscape represents one of the biggest challenges facing brands today. They’re looking to their agencies to help guide them as it relates to personalization expectations, first-party data strategies, future-proof third-party data resources, and robust insights-to-activation capabilities. Agencies that pivot accordingly and become trusted partners in these areas will be the ones that lead our industry into the privacy-first future.