Let’s talk about the positive side of digital advertising, as it deserves equal airtime. The advertising industry is on the precipice of a more transparent ecosystem. Instead of creepy targeted marketing, consumers expect honest, personalized tactics, which will ultimately drive engagement and revenue.
Here’s the thing I’ve noticed: many consumers are happy with the inspiration and delight digital advertising provides, and some, particularly millennials, are OK sharing their data for it. A recent study found that three-quarters of millennial and Gen X respondents expect all digital marketing to be tailored to their preferences at all times within three years to five years. That doesn’t happen without a little give and take — just like any relationship that withstands the test of time.
As we enter the next phase of digital advertising and Google charts the course to a cookie-less digital sphere, let’s consider leading with the positive: There's a long list of organizations, including retailers, using data to create enriching customer experiences. Retail advertisers should consider a skip-step between first-party data and the much-discussed zero-party data — 0.5 data: the information you already have.
The Positive Reason Consumers Aren’t Sharing More
Zero-party data refers to data that consumers proactively share with a brand. Brands often see this data as a token of the customer’s trust. And it is! But if a consumer chooses not to fork over more information, it may not be because they're concerned about privacy. They may simply be satisfied with the level of personalization they're currently experiencing.
It's incumbent on marketers to make the most of the data points they already have, using this information to create value for customers so they stay satisfied and in the digital marketing ecosystem. This is the “value exchange” that occurs between organizations and individuals, and it's a relationship built on trust. Whether B-to-B or B-to-C, if your brand provides value, chances are targets will provide insights that drive loyalty.
Therefore, perhaps the more productive way to look at the range between zero- and first-party data is an opportunity to deliver on a brand promise of fueling discovery and joy through targeted advertising. How else will they learn about that new skin cream or niche power tool? The digital ecosystem will continue to change with new regulations and updates from Google, Apple, and other tech players. But together, we — as in the digital advertising ecosystem — will figure it out, and publishers and brands that focus on using first-party data to deliver measurable value will be just fine, regardless of when (or if!) the cookies crumble.
And let’s not underestimate the human touch. Advertisers benefit when users are discerning. If an ad isn’t relevant, a consumer can scroll right on by, preserving their time and, in turn, helping artificial intelligence tools to better learn their preferences.
Giving equal air to what digital advertising gets right will give the industry its best shot at making meaningful improvements. If we're going to have a serious discussion about the figure of digital, let’s not pretend all users feel dissatisfied or violated when, in fact, so many appreciate the value of targeted advertising and the work brands are doing to create personalized, valuable experiences.
Vicki Brakl is senior vice president, marketing of MNI Targeted Media (MNI), a targeted media planning and buying company and a division of Dotdash Meredith.
Vicki Brakl is Senior Vice President, Marketing of MNI Targeted Media (MNI). She leads multiple departments, developing innovative practices and technology. Vicki is always on the lookout for new ways to streamline communication to drive performance both internally and externally with MNI’s client base to improve efficiencies and create the best product. Her secret weapon is listening, asking, and knowing when to disrupt. This has led to the identification of new verticals, new revenue streams and real time adoption of technology to energize teams and accelerate growth.
An entrepreneur at the core, Vicki looks at all she does through the lens of a start-up. Her team drives brand value, positions market strategy, energizes sales, crafts content, and leverages research to uncover insights for both MNI and its Harpoon division. Synchronizing messaging and teams to empower stakeholders to their best outcome is fundamental.
Recognizing the importance of creating a work environment that fosters growth, Brakl co-chairs Women@Meredith. She is also the voice of Innovative Marketer forums where marketing leads across the country share trends, best-practices, and personal journeys.
Many of the tenets for how Vicki leads today are rooted in discoveries earlier in her career, with experiences on both the client and agency sides of leading companies including PepsiCo, Omnicom, Hearst, and several start-up ventures. Vicki earned her BA in International Relations/German from Colgate University, and an MBA in International Business from Pace University.