Power to the People: Advertising That Creates Better Customer Experiences

Great brands care about their customers, always striving to create exceptional experiences that encourage positive brand affinity. In today’s cross-device multi-touch world however, this is becoming an increasingly challenging task for advertisers.

What lies at the foundation of solving this challenge for brands is truly understanding who their customers are throughout the purchase journey. This is the value proposition behind people-based advertising.

The term “people-based advertising” has flooded the market in the past few years, with a lot of confusion around what it even means. In order to understand what it is today and how it drives better customer experiences, lets go back to the challenges that gave rise to this new form of advertising, starting with the age of the cookie.


The Age of the Cookie, circa 1999


Up until three or four years ago, marketers predominantly relied on cookie-based modeling to track consumers across devices. However, as the average number of connected devices per U.S. household continued to climb, marketers grew frustrated with the limitations of cookies. 75% of cookies are deleted every month on desktop and two-thirds of smartphones and tablet devices don’t even accept cookies. It goes without saying that it is nearly impossible to truly engage with a consumer if you have to guess what they’re doing 75 percent of the time.

Naturally, marketers and advertisers were frustrated as they tried to identify the impact of their digital advertising against the growing number of customer touch points. The lack of transparency and accuracy into ad spend gave rise to marketers flocking to the security of the first people-based solutions, the walled-gardens.

The Rise of the Walled Gardens


The promise of people-based advertising was that marketers could now target ads to real, identifiable individuals, by leveraging a user’s logged-in profile information and all of the data points on interests and characteristics that came with it. In addition to this, as users continued shifting away from desktop and television toward mobile devices and streaming platforms, people-based advertising allowed marketers to link multiple devices back to a single user, providing a holistic view of that individual inclusive of demographics and purchase history.

But one of the main challenges with the walled gardens is that marketers could only leverage this people-based data within the confines of these select few platforms. As a result, marketers couldn’t create the frictionless digital experiences that today’s consumer expects. Moreover, this created challenges for brands because they had no insight into what consumers were doing across the open web.

In order to create successful brand experiences for customers, marketers need to reach people wherever they are. This next evolution of people-based advertising gives marketers the ability to take all of the positive attributes of people-based advertising within the walled gardens, but extend it to the open web; enabling marketers to reach real people, across all of their devices, wherever they are consuming content.

This is incredibly important today as customers expect seamless, personalized shopping experiences.

According to Accenture’s Global Consumer Pulse Survey, 82% of consumers who switch brands say companies could have retained them with more seamless experiences.

If brands want to create the kind of meaningful interactions that drive customer loyalty and increased sales, they must establish a dialogue with consumers across all online and offline channels. And the key to creating better experiences is relying on people as the metric. With an open approach and first-party data that relies on the identities of real consumers, rather than cookies, brands can truly own the customer journey.

Check out our animated explainer video for Viant’s spin on the history of people-based advertising and the current state of the industry today:

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  • #cookies
  • #cross device
  • #deterministic targeting
  • #people-based advertising
  • #registered users
  • #return on ad spend
  • #walled gardens
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