A Privacy Q&A with Adswerve

September 3, 2020

We were honored to be a part of the panel discussion during Google’s August 27th “Marketing in an Evolving Ecosystem” webinar, covering the new digital marketing landscape. We hope you were able to attend. If not, we wanted to share our own Scott Sullivan’s answers to privacy-related questions posed in the Q&A. Take a look.

What are some guiding principles that marketers, agencies and partners should embrace as we navigate privacy-friendly marketing today? What should they be thinking about for the rest of 2020 and beyond?

Our Answer:
We think there are three guiding principles marketers should embrace:

  1. Put First-Party Data First.
    With privacy laws cracking down on how advertisers use third-party data collected from other organizations, first-party data is in the spotlight more than ever. According to a recent BCG study, nine out of 10 marketers said it is very important to their digital marketing efforts. Yet, they found less than 30% are collecting first-party data and integrating it across channels!
  2. Control and Centralize Data, Take a Data Clean Room Approach.
    Marketing organizations need to gain control of their data and mitigate risk to their brand and consumers. Integrating analytics and media functions under one roof isn’t just an efficiency play. Keeping a tight lid on your data operation is critical to protecting brand reputation. It also means accessing all data in ways that respect user privacy, like utilizing a data cleanroom approach.
  3. Embrace the Cloud.
    The most mature marketers are embracing a cloud-based solution like the Google Cloud Platform that can help to make sense of the wealth of signals you’re collecting. Products like BigQuery help marketers to comb through the data, surface insights and activate more of their first-party data to build predictive models that drive campaigns.

Businesses need to be privacy-first. What steps has your company taken both internally and with consumers?

Our Answer:
In addition to the three steps I mentioned earlier, you also need to deconstruct your internal silos. There needs to be an authentic commitment to privacy that is woven throughout the entire organization. You can’t have marketing and analytics teams operating separately without having a focus on driving results using a more data-driven and privacy-centric approach.

From your experience, what’s working and what’s not? What does success look like?

Our Answer:
Our clients working with BigQuery and leveraging Machine Learning are seeing enormous success. One is a premier vacation rental company based in North Carolina’s Outer Banks (no affiliation with the Netflix series) called Twiddy & Company. 

Over a year ago, we worked with Twiddy to migrate all of their first-party data such as website interactions and historical bookings into BigQuery. Twiddy partnered closely with our team of data scientists to develop machine learning models in an effort to surface patterns among their valuable customers. This enabled Twiddy to analyze things like the activity of past website visitors who ended up booking a vacation home to predict the likelihood that a new website visitor is also going to convert. Because our team combined information like the preferred travel dates for past guests with the availability of the properties that they’re likely to be interested in, they were able to determine when was the most appropriate time to promote a property to those customers. Surfacing these insights and building these predictive models ultimately helped Twiddy to nearly double their conversion rates, all in a privacy-safe manner.

As someone responsible for an overall brand, how are you executing your marketing campaigns in a privacy friendly way?

Our Answer:
We practice what we preach. Privacy is in our DNA and something at the forefront of everything we do. Our marketing team at Adswerve partners closely with our team of data scientists to consult on things like Google Analytics 360 and BigQuery.

Right now we’re leaning into contextual campaigns and machine learning. Contextual targeting provides us the ability to reach our target audiences in a way that can provide a different level of capabilities than the traditional audience-driven approaches. 

Machine learning is something everyone talks about. We’re executing on this by optimizing the content and experiences on our website. Instead of relying on third-party data, we use Google Optimize and Analytics 360 to learn how different groups of users use our site differently. We then apply personalization that optimizes the right experiences for those groups.

If you could tell clients to do ______ today, what would you tell them?

Our Answer:
I would try to keep it simple and focus on these three things:

  1. Ask yourselves honestly, do we have a culture around privacy that is embraced? If not, this is where you need to start
  2. Do you have your own Marketing Data Warehouse? If you don’t, you’re already behind.
  3. Get familiar with Google Ads Data Hub, which is another area where you don’t want to be left behind.

Parting Thoughts

It can be very overwhelming right now for marketers to deal with the onslaught of privacy changes with new legislation and regulations. However, my advice right now is to take action and don’t take a ‘wait and see’ approach. 

There are numerous steps you can take to help future-proof your business in a privacy-centric manner by leveraging your first-party data, centralizing your data in BigQuery and embracing the Cloud. Don’t be paralyzed by the ongoing changes with privacy, but instead, feel empowered. You have steps you can take today to better position your organization in the future.

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