As the cookies crumble, it’s time to get your customer data platform in place

AdTech is evolving. The ‘death of cookies’ has been talked about for a while now and whilst Google is delaying the funeral, we all know that it is coming.

Data Management Platforms (DMPs) which use cookie-based targeting to track and target users across the web were all the rage a few years back. However, these are increasingly seen as end-of-life now due to the privacy restrictions in Safari and Firefox browsers and growing use of ad blocking technologies within Chrome.

As we say our final goodbyes and ready for the death of cookies, it’s clear that the industry is looking to first party data as the panacea to the breadth of challenges we face once cookies finally kick the bucket.

So, it comes as no surprise that Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) have overtaken DMPs as the hot new piece of MarTech in town that the leading software providers are championing.

While the providers are championing CDPs, and their benefits in a cookie-less world seemingly obvious, clients that have implemented CDPs aren’t sharing in the enthusiasm.

Here’s why:

Myopic services models

Global, networked agency or consultancy system integrator models generally dominate the services landscape for businesses that are large enough to consider investing $100,000+ in setting up and deploying a CDP solution. However, a CDP ultimately services a multi-channel marketing experience that almost none of these businesses are set up to service. Media agencies don’t generally understand or support owned channels (website personalisation and 1:1 comms delivery) or have the data schema architecture, data engineering and data science skills to implement and operate the technology effectively. Consultancies have the system integration skills, but don’t buy or trade media, so can’t provide any support in the value realisation of the technology. Creative agencies understand comms strategy and loyalty strategy but don’t have the data or engineering skills and don’t trade media. Digital platform agencies understand data schema design, engineering and owned channel delivery but don’t get the marketing strategy and don’t trade media. When the team implementing the platform doesn’t have a full view of how the tech should be utilised, clients end up left unsupported with a shiny new toy that’s not calibrated to their business.

Internal silos driving knowledge and education barriers

The marketing, data and technology functions are mostly separated in larger organisations. When it comes to projects that attempt to bring to together content, targeting and data logic into a single experience framework, the competing priorities of the siloed departments leads to a fragmented and distracted framework that is meant to underpin the marketing programme. Thankfully, the advent of the Chief Customer Officer is showing the right intent in connecting the dots between the marketing, sales, and service experience. We just need to find and train the right people who understand how to make an amazing brand campaign as well as how to design a sophisticated segmentation and personalisation strategy. It’s hard to find the architect brains that can bring together the best of the channel mix together. In ever more pressured budget climates, training is more and more of a luxury for businesses and as the role of a marketer gets more complex, many are finding the pressures too much to handle with tenure in key leadership roles getting shorter and shorter.

Lack of a compelling first-party, zero-party, and second-party data strategy

The supermarkets, airlines (and their loyalty programs), telcos, banks and large media publishers have long understood the importance of their first party data strategy. Unfortunately for many industries, they still haven’t invested in building the Other necessary scaffolding (consent frameworks, loyalty strategy, privacy policy, segmentation models, data aggregation and cleansing etc.) to create sufficient scale and quality in their data-driven programmes. 2nd party data partnerships are also still untrusted by CIO’s who, rightly, are living in perpetual terror of data breaches due to the recent misfortunes of businesses such as Optus and Medibank. That said, new innovations from Cloud providers, such as AWS’s data clean room strategy, Google Cloud’s innovations, Snowflake’s partner with Habu should provide businesses with more trust that these kind of mutual or paid enrichment services are possible within acceptable risk tolerance thresholds if the right governance models and security controls are put in place.

So, what’s the solution.

Well, there are unicorn businesses, (including CHEP Network), that have invested in their capability suite to ensure that the full breadth of expertise can be applied to helping extract value from CDPs – and MarTech more broadly.

Before you consider engaging an agency partner or a software provider to implement a CDP solution, it’s important to clarify your objectives against the investment, and have a clear understanding of what’s required internally to bring it to life.

Design an operational model and RACI framework that outlines where the responsibility lies and use that to bring together a connected village of services, with clear roles and responsibilities.

As a starting point this might include:

  • Digital media planning / buying capability – To plan investment, traffic creative assets, set-up and execute media buying.
  • Holistic digital measurement framework design – Internal data teams or specialist data / analytics consultants provide the opportunity to design a holistic digital measurement programme that covers paid and owned channels metrics and attribution against transactional data.
  • Data segment / schema design and data product ownership – Again, the right internal data teams could look after this or potentially an external data science and data engineering partner (or consulting team from the software business) may be able to provide this.
  • CRM / CX strategy design and 1:1 comms deployment – Many businesses manage their 1:1 comms activity in-house, however external CRM specialists could provide this including the CRM/CX journey design, the template build and campaign set-up in the marketing automation platform.
  • AdTech / Data layer design and CRO / website personalisation strategy – Normally the skills to design and set-up analytics and data layers go fairly hand-in-hand with CRO experiment set-up. With the integration of CDP data into these experiences the opportunity to combine behavioural data on-site with transactional history unlocks even more powerful use cases.
  • Creative asset design – Whether through an in-house design / content team or external creative agency partner, the role of designing the messaging frameworks, securing the right legal and compliance signoffs, and building the HTML assets or React components etc. is still an important piece of the puzzle too.

Through a diagnosis of the key task requirements and then a clear RACI model design, a product owner should be able to configure a cross-functional team to execute these services and hopefully make the most of the CDP platform potential.

Essential to this is also the design of a clear use case backlog and prioritisation framework around the target journeys, triggered and personalised experiences to guide this. Generally, we would recommend the establishment of these upfront to give the team clarity and focus around the most important strategies and success metrics.

CDPs are a brave new world, filled with promises of riches, but also the potential to be a sunk cost if they’re not planned and implemented appropriately. Take the simple step of ensuring your data, tech, media, and creative contributors are connected and aligned to help your business realise the potential of this exciting new technology suite.

Mark Gretton is chief technology officer at CHEP Network.


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