Cookie-Based Modelling is a Thing of the Past: Q&A with Katie Field, UK MD, Viant

Originally posted on ExchangeWire

ExchangeWire: People-based marketing is a buzz phrase, which rarely gets defined. What does it actually mean?

Katie Field: Today, cookies present a short-term and ineffective ad targeting solution that limits cross-device reach. People-based marketing solves accuracy and measurement limitations presented by these current behavioural targeting models. Through a people-based approach to advertising, marketers can now target real registered users online rather than relying on cookies and other anonymous proxies such as the IP address. Relying on first-party data (registered users), people-based marketing enables advertisers to match a person to each of his/her connected devices to allow for seamless cross-device ad targeting that’s personally relevant and effective. Our core product, the Viant Advertising CloudTM, actually takes this practice a step further by matching clients’ offline purchases to their online behaviour, effectively closing the loop on return on ad spend measurement.

People-based marketing is not a new concept. How has it evolved?

It’s widely accepted throughout the industry that cookie-based modelling is a thing of the past. Companies like Facebook and Google, who have accumulated massive registered user databases over the last decade, have helped to shift the advertising industry’s attention to the inherent value of deterministic advertising models. It’s easy to see the appeal for brands – after all, who wouldn’t want to leverage registered user data to reach identifiable customers with personalised marketing messages at scale? These companies, however, are walled gardens; meaning that their data can’t be shared outside of their own ecosystems. At Viant, we pride ourselves on being able to deliver advertising solutions that can be almost universally integrated and adapted to reach real people across the open web.

Building audiences based on cookie data is not an effective way of reaching a target audience on mobile devices, so how can people-based marketing be an effective alternative to this?

Consider this: 75% of cookies are deleted every month, and two-thirds of IP-connected devices don’t accept cookies. As a result, marketers are often understating the frequency and overstating the reach of their campaigns. Put simply, cookies just aren’t effective or reliable when targeting mobile devices. This is where a people-based approach can help marketers map together an individual’s devices and match it to that individual. This tactic is vital to creating effective and reliable cross device campaigns.

The industry is becoming increasingly mobile-first. How are marketers able to effectively adopt a people-based marketing approach to their mobile activity?

Consumers are fed up with receiving several of the same ads, or worse yet, completely irrelevant ads from brands. Leveraging registered user data, marketers can now create a device graph for each customer, making it possible to accurately control frequency and ad sequence across a customer’s different devices. For example, let’s say we’ve served a person an ad on their laptop at work. Later, we serve the same person an ad on their mobile during their commute, and then on their tablet once they’re home. For consumers, this advertising experience is seamless, relevant and timely – and it’s only achievable through a people-based approach to marketing.

What’s next for people-based marketing, and how can the industry help drive it forward so that it keeps pace with the speed of mobile-uptake for consumers?

People-based execution is a fundamental shift for our industry in terms of how we use data, interact with consumers, and review the effectiveness of the digital channel. With the innovations it provides, we have the tools to give brands a more personal, considerate, and beneficial relationship with their customers, both existing and new. However, the challenge will be moving away from the metrics (even when outdated) that we know so well and truly utilising the capabilities people-based platforms bring.

There is a real opportunity to finally showcase digital investments’ impact on the overall marketing strategy, as we can now link digital exposure to the actions that occur both online and offline, to provide a true ROI for brands and align the spend in digital to the increasing usage of mobile devices by today’s customer.

It also allows us to tailor the marketing message more accurately to consumers, both in the creative messaging itself, but just as importantly, in the formats delivered within the different device environments. We need to move away from repurposed TV ads in digital video and standard desktop ads pushed into mobile and build a relevant advertising strategy based on how consumers are interacting with content and brands on different devices.

Another quick win, taking into account the rapid growth in mobile, is the effectiveness of a true cross-device strategy. When you are linking devices to actual customers, you can ensure you are not bombarding people with ads, by taking into account exposure across all touchpoints. This creates a more relevant and respectful experience for the customer and eliminates the significant overstatement of reach and understatement of frequency, which currently exists in purely cookie-based execution.

For brands, having the customer at the centre of their marketing strategy has always been a priority, more so now than ever, and people-based technology continues to make brands more effective in delivering this goal.