STAFF Q&A

Adapting from a cookie-based digital world with Adnan Khan

— Interviews

Staff Q&A: Adnan Khan

Summary

In a post-GDPR and Cambridge Analytica world, online privacy is paramount to users, and web browsing providers are rising to the occasion in helping protect their customers’ privacy. But what impact will this have on digital marketing? We spoke to Adnan Khan, krunch.co’s Head of Innovation to get information on what this means and what businesses can do to make the most of the current climate.

Recently, Mozilla Firefox announced they are going to block certain tracking technology that makes it harder for advertisers to track user behaviour online. Can you tell us more about this new move? What does it mean for users, and what does it mean for marketers?

Companies like Google and Facebook often track your browser habits to better target advertising at you. Mozilla wants to now help consumers fight back in what is increasingly becoming a privacy arms race. New protections in Firefox aim to prevent turning cookies from being able to inform targeted advertising elsewhere.

Unfortunately, the side-effect from this will adversely affect digital marketing that utilises cookie-based tracking to deliver targeted and relevant experiences to prospects and customers. This will primarily affect display and programmatic advertising versus in-app advertising, as ads delivered within a web browser environment are more reliant on cookies to identify an individual person versus an app that has your login.

This is significant and matters for marketers, as Apple and Firefox account for 45% of all mobile browser traffic and 75% of all tablet browser traffic in New Zealand.

And Mozilla is not the first to do this this year, are they?

Correct. Tim Cook, CEO of Apple, claimed this year that “privacy is a fundamental human right.” In the longer context of Apple’s history, it’s easy to see that user privacy was always a core hardware product focus for Apple - well before intelligent tracking prevention features were released on Safari. Since the release of intelligent tracking prevention 2.0, Apple has introduced even more aggressive measures to block cookie tracking - removing the shortened 24 hour window that third party cookies can exist within your browser to be used for targeted advertising purposes.

Why have browsers suddenly become so concerned with user privacy?

Consumers are increasingly aware of privacy issues due to the increased amount of awareness recently in media and the stories that have broken this year. As a result, companies that develop and improve browsers are in somewhat of an arms race to limit the amount of tracking third party digital advertising companies can deliver to be the “good privacy” browser. Apple also claims that limiting tracking prevention and third party cookie tracking will also speed up the browsing experience.

It’s clear that plenty of users will find these changes comforting... but is there a silver lining for digital marketers?

Without mitigation, ITP 2.0 will effectively remove the ability for marketers to track conversions from Safari, Firefox and Chrome back to channel/campaign exposure/engagement. It could have drastic impacts on remarketing campaigns. We recommend checking analytics platforms to see how much traffic and how many conversions come from Safari browsers so that you can quantify the potential impact as more users upgrade to Safari 12 and OS X Mojave.

How will businesses need to shift their media strategies in this new landscape?

Cookies were originally invented as a method to target and deliver digital advertising in a world where primary access to the internet came from desktop computers. We don’t live in a desktop world anymore, we live in a mobile world. More than 70% of all time on the internet was spent on mobile devices in 2017 (comScore). Not to mention, 39% of Kiwis delete their cookies regularly from their browsers to protect privacy.

Cookies have been shown to overstate reach by up to 2.5X and understate frequency (according to a comScore cookie deletion report) and undervalue up to 40% of all touchpoints within a customer journey (Datalicious). This limits businesses’ ability to measure ROI, optimise media mix and target the right customers.

To accurately assess return on media strategies in a mobile world, businesses will need to adapt to marketing measurement and targeting that works in in-app, messaging, mobile and tablet environments, where cookies don’t work as well (and in Safari and Firefox browsers). To do this they will need to shift to people-based measurement and targeting (vs cookies).

People-based measurement is far more accurate and utilises persistent people data layers (like the 3.5 million people on Facebook, Instagram, Messenger and Whatsapp in NZ) to measure and attribute activity across devices, apps and browsers instead of dropping cookies into browsers.

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