As the deprecation of digital ID continues, Eugene Becker, Managing Director and Executive Vice President of Global Data and Identity at Acxiom, discusses how transactional data should be part of the solution.
2022 is expected to be the last full year of digital IDs such as third-party cookies and mobile advertising identifiers (MAIDs) before google and Apple ban them from browsers and mobile operating systems. So, it’s over with the old and with the new – but what will this “new” look like? The more I look at the evolving adtech landscape and think about what will help brands fill the cookie-shaped hole in their marketing, the more I see the growing importance of transactional data.
The changes have brands looking for other ways to connect with the customers they love, but there’s no one-to-one replacement. Brands that want to continue reaching relevant audiences should develop a range of mitigation strategies to retain and leverage the progress they’ve made in addressable communication.
These include an evolution towards:
- Identifiers based on real people versus identifiers based on digital identifiers like cookies.
- Managing people-based identifiers and associated data on platforms purpose-built for this new reality.
- A motivation for brands to become more strategic in their use of data, given that they will likely have less audience data to play with in the future.
To me, these three trends define the new reality brands face today, and they highlight the growing relevance, power, and untapped potential of transactional data.
What exactly is transactional data?
Transactional data is what it sounds like: data about customer transactions. Information about who, what, where, how (and how many) purchases or other relevant transactions.
You might be thinking, “Don’t brands already have transactional data?” Yes. Every business has data on how their customers buy from them, but this first-party transactional data will only tell you so much (assuming you’re able to manage and use your own transactional data effectively, for starters) .
It will not tell you about the transactions that your customers carry out with your direct competitors. Or even about transactions happening in other categories that can provide you with information to inform your next marketing move.
The transactional data we’ll see more of in 2022 is “big data” from third parties, often industry-specific vendors, that help fill these gaps. It will be confidential data about what’s on people’s grocery lists, what car models they buy and how much they spend on streaming entertainment services.
Let’s explore the three trends I mentioned above.
Trend 1: Brands need an alternative to digital data
Digital identifiers, like cookies, have been a staple of adtech for years and help brands communicate with their customers. Huge investments have been made and hundreds of businesses have been built on this foundation. But as digital IDs depreciate, brands are beginning to ask themselves the question, “What’s going to happen next?”
Change is inevitable, and we’ve already seen adtech investments shift into categories such as Customer data platforms (CDP) and clean roomsthat are built around connecting data about real people in order to reach real people.
When I talk to marketers, it’s clear that they aren’t going to let go of a decade of audience buying best practices. Instead, they will switch to new data types. This data will be people-based, and I think transactional data is best suited to serve as an alternative.
Trend 2: People-based transformation is happening across the ecosystem
Along with the shift to people-based data, brands will need to focus on new ways to actually move that data into the ecosystem. The shift to people-based platforms is already evident: Adobe and Salesforce are deprecating DMPs and focusing on CDPs.
When it comes to data marketsthe focus shifts from Oracle Data Cloud and Nielsen Marketing Cloud, which are based on digital IDs, to Amazon Data Exchange and Snowflake Data Marketplace, which more easily accommodate people-based data.
All this represents a change closer to the company. These systems already exist as part of marketers’ enterprise technology stacks, and I believe this platform trend will help marketers navigate the change in IDs.
In addition to the shift to people-based platforms, we will see new ways to transmit data across the ecosystem. It will be over with the old, as brands no longer rely on cookie synchronization – and with the new, in the form of new identifiers like UID2.0, cleanrooms and people-based integrations.
This adds up to a massive disruption to the ecosystem, and chances are audience buying won’t work at the same scale as before. On the other hand, people-based connections will be extremely accurate, and the fidelity of people-based data, like transactional data, will revolutionize audience reach as well as measurement – good news for brands that don’t want to squander the investments they’ve already made in audience data.
Trend 3: The new potential for strategic use of data
Transactional data is nothing new, but brands have yet to tap into their full potential. While generic audiences are widely used for reach, brands are just beginning to use transactional data for strategic planning.
Information is left on the table as transactional data can tell you about total category spend, competitive loyalty, consumption channels, and more.
Let’s say you are a coffee brand. You can get data on overall category spend and individual brand spend. When you combine the two, you get insight into your share of wallet against your competing coffee brands. You can make more informed decisions not only about where to reach customers, but also about what messages and strategies will work best.
If you’re a retailer and you can identify someone who spends a lot in your category, and you also know they only buy online, you’ll want to offer them digital-only promotions, like a 10% off % on their next online order. You’ll know which customers you can reach by running your ad on social media, the web, and CTVs, and you’ll be able to save money you could have wasted on print and traditional television expenses.
These are just basic examples – strategic marketers will already imagine the possibilities that will open up when they have access to the best transactional data in their own industry, be it automotive, CPG, retail, financial services or healthcare. In short, effective communications has many moving parts, based on segmentation, market size, message and creativity – and transactional data can inform them all at the strategic planning level.
Prepare for digital ID abandonment before it happens
We’re already months away from 2022, and it’s time for us all to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all solution to the challenge of outdated digital IDs. Rather, I see a mix of trends gaining momentum: the shift to people-based data and people-based platforms and connections, and the need for brands to become strategic with what data will stay at their arrangement.
Transactional datasets and marketplaces that aggregate the best transactional data from various industry verticals are going to be hugely powerful assets for brands to unlock their potential to improve marketing – sooner rather than later.