Ever since Google announced the deprecation of third-party cookies, advertisers have been wondering how digital advertising might work without cookies. Digital advertising has been sold based on the ability to target, “personalize” and measure ads so third-party cookie deprecation has become a foundational disruption of the very premise of digital advertising.
The entire ecosystem powering digital advertising, consisting of data providers, demand side platforms (DSPs), measurement platforms, ad servers, DCO platforms, has to transform now–and do it quickly. New forms of persistent and privacy-compliant identity have become imperative, leading to the birth of industry consortia like Unified ID2.0 (led by The Trade Desk), proprietary identity solutions like RampID (offered by Liveramp) and many more such offerings.
Look closely at the privacy laws behind the deprecation of third-party cookies. The laws themselves don’t prevent any entity from establishing or using a consumer’s identity; they do however, require direct consumer consent for using their identities and any associated data collected in the process. This essentially means the only form of data that can safely be collected and used is first-party data, only to be used by the entity to which a consumer directly provides consent.
What happens next is a literal reboot of the ecosystem with its associated winners and losers. A good way to look at winners and losers in this shakeout – maybe at the risk of oversimplification – is that only entities that have direct consumer consent will be able to provide such identity and the associated data that brands need to effectively continue marketing with precision. For the rest, the future looks a little bleak.
In the digital media landscape there have been only two such groups of entities that can do this (at least legally). One such group is advertisers themselves. They often have large amounts of data that consumers have often given them consent to use. The second group is media publishers. The consumer data they have depends on the kind of relationship and consent from consumers.
We are now seeing the emergence of a third group of entities. These are businesses that are neither the advertiser nor the publisher. They are brands that have consented data about products and services purchased by consumers. This data can then be used to inform advertisers about their intent, interests, and other personal information or preferences. To use this data for marketing purposes, these brands of course need permission. This data arguably is even more valuable than publisher data in its richness and precision of consumer behavior vs broad intent. The most powerful form of this data is product purchase data, and retailers like Amazon, Walmart, Krogers, Target and others have significant amounts of it. This has given rise to the rapidly growing retail media market. Increasingly, other players have acquired similar data and relationships with consumers. Ride sharing apps have data on location, destination and more. Delivery apps also have purchase data for groceries and travel brands have data on travel habits and travel plans. The rapid growth of such platforms has resulted in the re-branding of retail media to commerce media, depicting any kind of media powered by consumer purchase habits and intent. For a media offering that only became mainstream a few years ago, it has already reached $101 billion this year, representing 18% of global digital marketing per a recent forecast by GroupM and expected to grow to $160 billion by 2027.
This presents a significant opportunity for advertisers in two key ways:
- Brands that have direct relationships with consumers still need data for prospecting, such as finding new customers they don’t have any data on. Cookie deprecation takes that away, but commerce media restores it
- Brands that don’t have a direct consumer relationship. CPG and B2B brands can now harness data from commerce media platforms to get the same kind of precise data needed to power their advertising
The upside here is that all of this data is consented and privacy compliant and also ensures the protection of consumer data from getting into the wrong hands.
The challenge is that retail media networks are essentially “walled gardens”. In the world before cookie deprecation, adtech and martech stacks could work across media platforms since they essentially managed identity and data. Now, just when brands thought walled gardens were challenging to work with, they now have many new walled gardens to deal with.
This means brands have to contend with different creative formats, delivery interfaces, measurement methods, attribution capabilities etc. across each of their buys. This problem is giving rise to commerce marketing platforms, or martech, that are specifically tailored to work across commerce media offerings. Commerce marketing platforms can make it much easier for brands to buy media, manage creative, target, personalize and attribute across these siloed platforms.
These platforms are also critical to stitching these walled gardens to their own data, identity attribution and content systems. The lack of such integrations will inevitably lead to more silos and an inability to trace the customer journey, resulting in poor consumer engagement and experience. Ultimately, it leads to more costs as brands need to hire more folks to manage each of these siloes.
I recently spoke to a brand that mentioned their “Amazon team” and “Walmart team”. I can see why that is needed today. But the emerging commerce marketing platforms can mediate across commerce media to ensure a single team to manage many of these “channels” much like their programmatic teams do today. The result is significant efficiencies and cost savings – all of which can ultimately be used to invest in reaching consumers.
In addition to efficiently managing media buying, commerce marketing technology also needs to cater to special needs of commerce media. The Jivox Commerce Marketing Cloud is a platform built specifically to address the needs of delivering campaigns on commerce media. Here are a few of the key needs it addresses:
- Support for dynamic product ads – these types of ad formats feature products, pricing and offers typically based on AI or other recommendation algorithms to deliver personalized offers to the consumer. The problem is that these formats vary across commerce media platforms and so its critical that the commerce marketing platform supports a variety of such dynamic product ad formats
- Ability to integrate with and process large retailer product feeds. Many retailers have feeds with tens of thousands and often millions of of product SKUs (think groceries) so commerce marketing tech needs to be able to handle large feeds and process them in real-time
- Ability to manage identity and attribution across commerce media platforms – this requires the support of an ID graph and integration with attribution APIs across commerce media platforms
- Reporting and analytics – commerce media platforms often will share only “need to know” data sets for brands reporting and analytics needs. This is often done via a “Data Clean Room” which allows data to be exchanged between parties in a privacy compliant manner
- Support for Shoppable ads – these ad formats enable shopping to be brought to the consumer within ads and content instead of the consumer having to go to the online store to purchase
Retail media spend is already half the size of social media spending, and it’s growing rapidly. It is quite possible that in the next 10 years, it could dwarf social media as brands discover the power of first-party purchase data. This will come at a cost though because it essentially means that now instead of having 3 large sources of media — Google, Facebook and programmatic media (aka Open Web) — you may have as many as five to ten media sources. The resulting costs of managing all of these platforms could overwhelm the benefits of retail media. Commerce marketing platforms that are tailored to make it easy to work across all of these media sources will save brands millions of dollars and enable them to optimize their creative, content and media across these platforms.