Since the implementation of the Data Protection Act in 2018, the approach behind the use of data has changed dramatically. Our clients and customers don’t just want a great experience, they also want to make sure they can trust us. And it makes perfect sense in the present times.
But as data is considered a key factor in a positive customer experience, U.S. brands and agencies have found it to be increasingly complicated to earn customer trust while remaining compliant.
In an article by John Snyder, CEO at Grapeshot, for AdExchanger, he says that the GDPR will remove 75% of third-party data and what’s left will be more expensive. This has caused the power dynamic between brands and agencies to evolve over time.
The GDPR allows functional and financial incentives to unlock the customer insights that they already have. The only reason most brands have not been able to do it is because of the discrepancy in their data repository, causing agencies to lose ownership of their clients’ data.
To make up for the loss of these revenue streams, agencies must be creative and strategic about how they work with brands in this trend. Digital agencies still play an important role in data—just not a hands-on role. Once a brand collects a mass of information through rewards, loyalty programs or more relevant offerings that make consumers feel comfortable enough to share, the agency can take the lead in designing marketing plans that are best fit for it.
Brands that set out to make better use of their first-party data often want more control and visibility than they’d typically receive from the agencies who ‘silo it away’ and can’t provide easy access.
To prevent brands from going with their in-house solution, agencies must be prepared to show transparency and provide as much data visibility as possible. Hence, it is key to bring value-added insights and analysis to the table.
Research studies by Sizmek revealed that 88% of marketers agreed they would find it valuable for a partner to take a consultative approach and help them understand and gain insights from data.
While brand executives are capable of getting their hands on basic data services, implementing the proper infrastructure is a different story. Agency’s competence in interpreting and strategizing against data is what makes them valuable to brands as they determine the right kind of data and insights for their marketing efforts.
Typically, agencies may want to be left in charge of brands’ data because they have deep insight into data systems, interpretations, programmatic ad buying, etc. The added financial, operational, and resources needed for bringing programmatic as well as data strategy in-house may be a little too steep for most brands; which is why they let their agencies be in charge of that function.
Raphael Rodeir from Ogury, an adtech agency, says, “For decades the industry has turned a blind eye to the ways in which consumer data is obtained. As such, most of the data being used to fuel vendor technology today has a layer of mystery covering it. When, where and how was it collected? Was it taken with consumer permission, or not? This is no longer acceptable, or indeed legal. Being able to unequivocally prove the traceability of consumer consent is mandatory. Any advertiser or agency spending money with ad tech partners, should seek proof that the vendors they work with comply to all global privacy laws.”
Advertisers can still do a lot of target marketing without the use of third-party data. The GDPR and CCPA require brands to mine their first-party data to pre-qualify audiences and it’s difficult for agencies to adjust to this change. Because augmenting audience identification and targeting efforts with third-party data is a revenue-generating tool that’s not going to exist anymore.
Third-party intent data is a key asset if marketers are running ABM campaigns. In fact, 45% of the B2B buying cycle involves buyers independently searching, that’s key information that most brands don’t have access to.
Today, simply having a lot of consumer data doesn’t equate to success. Instead, having a well-defined data strategy will ensure brands are sourcing and using the data that fits best with their business requirements. It’s more about building trust and credibility among consumers. Such a strategy will allow you to refine your marketing efforts and messaging. To do that, agencies must ensure that they have the top data talent or forging partnerships with trusted companies that can support their data capabilities.
The best way for agencies to be compliant is to say what they’re going to do and maintain that transparency. Agencies’ operating standards should be in line with GDPR and CCPA guidelines that include lawfulness, fairness, transparency, accountability, and accuracy, both in law and principle.
Brendan Greenwall from Initiative, a global media agency says, “This is to ensure that what we do is not just legally correct, but also the right thing to do, both from a cultural and regulatory standpoint. This isn’t a new challenge though. It’s just one digital advertising didn’t have to solve until privacy laws came to regulate it. When you look at traditional advertising mediums, most of them require an independent governing body to approve the ad before it can be seen by the public. Then, the time and place of the ad placement needs to be carefully considered to comply with the specific markets regulations. Now compare that to the effort required to get an ad live in the almost entirely self-regulated online video space…”
Data has been an integral part of marketing and unlocking hidden insights for success. It changes how agencies approach their potential clients. One of the most powerful ways for ad and marketing agencies to grow their bottom line far and wide is to leverage intent data and marketing analytics. But in a post-GDPR world, that has become a challenge.
In the race of catching up to major technological disruption and responding to changing buyer expectations, the lines kind of went blurry on how marketers could be data-driven while protecting data.
While most agencies are now honest about their data sources, there’s always a possibility of inappropriately sourced names or other personal information ending up on the file. Brands could come under scrutiny for not being responsible when it’s their messages and revenue attached to the IDs.
Agencies that are already positioned as trusted partners will be able to nurture those relationships in the future. Whether they reimagine their strategy or become more innovative with their consulting model, these initiatives are crucial for them to flourish.