Storyboard18 – Stacks and Strategies
In June 2021, Google said it would phase out third-party cookies. Third-party cookies, which allow advertisers to understand consumers and their preferences, are an essential marketing tool that will disappear by the end of 2023. Closer to home, major automotive brand Maruti Suzuki is simplifying and enriching its customer data collection, to be ready when there is no access to third party data.
In a conversation with Storyboard18, Shashank Srivastava, Senior Executive Director, Marketing and Sales, Maruti Suzuki, discusses at length how the brand is focused on collecting targeted consumer data; challenges for marketers when cookie crumbles, workaround and more.
In the world without cookies, hyper-personalization strategies will be tricky. This, many believe, could impact ROA (Return On Advertising) and ROI (Return On Investment) of digital spend. What is your opinion on this?
Many advertisers and publishers depend on data from third-party cookies for consumer personalization, targeting and retargeting. There are many browsers that have disabled third-party cookies like Firefox did in 2013. Then Google Chrome will. Google Chrome has the largest market share in terms of browsing. So the effect is going to be much more. It’s a tough situation, but what marketers are going to do is rely more on first-party data, i.e. collecting data about their consumers.
Maruti Suzuki is already preparing for this and we have CDP in place. It stands for “customer data platform” where we collect data regarding all consumer interactions. It’s not just about transactional data like billing or day-to-day delivery service. It also includes interactional data – data that is collected by interacting with consumers. The one thing all advertisers and publishers need to do is have as much first-party data as possible. This means investments in CDPs.
What are the other workarounds?
In the case of Maruti Suzuki, we are also working on SVOC (Single View Of Customer) which encompasses all data including transactional and interactional. I think that’s the first step companies will have to take. The other thing companies will need to do is look into probabilistic audience modeling – a mechanism in which data is generated by gathering anonymous data points from a user’s browsing behavior; and compare them to deterministic data points. Here we can use AI ML (artificial intelligence and machine learning) technology for consumer data aggregation.
Thus, brands may not have the hyper-personalization of an individual consumer but may have coarse personalization based on probabilistic audience modeling. It also means using some of the new AI ML tools. I think contextual targeting is easier.
The advertising effect may not be very specific, so the brand may not have customization. But contextual targeting is a good way. In terms of the delivery of the advertising message or the communication message, it does not have a large percentage of delivery but it could be better. As mathematical models improve, contextual targeting also improves.
Walled Gardens are third-party data platforms that contain a large amount of consumer data. Here they will not give you data on individuals but will give you data on buckets of individuals based on parameters like geography or age etc. I would expect walled garden arrangements with social media platforms to increase in response to this cookieless world.
How prepared is Maruti Suzuki to enter the world without cookies?
Without third-party cookie data, many advertisers do not have a large customer database to easily perform first-party targeting. Companies like Maruti Suzuki have a very large consumer base where we receive approximately 1.2 million inquiries every month. So our base is very strong and it’s easier to collect first-party data for more personalized targeting. For many advertisers this may not be true and for them contextual targeting is a big issue.
What is the best way forward or most effective mechanisms for advertisers in the world without cookies? Do you think contextual advertising will resume?
The three mechanisms that can be adopted are first-party data, contextual targeting, and probabilistic audience modeling. It requires AI ML technology to make sense of the data and have good modeling. Fourth, the development of data platforms, for example, CDP.
Next comes the arrangement with walled gardens. These are basically social media platforms or other platforms like Google, Amazon, Flipkart, Facebook or Instagram etc. They have a lot of consumer interactions and have access to a lot of data. So that’s what advertisers would like to do in response to this cookie-free world.
As a marketer, what worries you about being cookie-free?
The first is that the level of customization may not be possible. Second, it requires a lot of investment and technology upgrade for us to collect first party data. Social media platforms have a lot of power in terms of data because for walled garden arrangements you need to have that arrangement with some vendors who have a lot of customers on their platforms. And this is currently only available on very few platforms.
First post: STI