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[Interview] Cookie-less world: ‘The need to get insights from advertising and social will not stop growing’

Google's project to end third-party cookies has not been affected by the current health crisis, quite the contrary. The company is now looking for collaborators to start experimenting with its “Privacy Sandbox”, an initiative launched last year to put forward ideas about how behavioral advertising and ad measurement on the web would work in a future without cookies.

"Organizations completely depend on Google's willingness to synchronize with other players in the digital ecosystem so that the alternative to third-party cookies is adopted by everyone," is the opinion of Oscar López Cuesta, Audience Chapter Leader at Orange, where he leads the digital analytics, BI marketing and audience team.

Oscar López CuestaIn this interview Oscar reflects on, among other things, the role of DMPs (Data Management Platforms), the position of the media in allying with brands to access data, and the need to get insights from advertising and social networks. “Hopefully the depreciation of cookies does not further fragment the vision that we have of users online, generating even more silos”.

Question: A little bit about yourself… When we first met, you were an Audience Analyst at the Financial Times. How would you say your role has changed and evolved over time?

Answer: The role of audiences has continued to gain more weight in organizations. At the Financial Times, although my role was strategic for advertising, it wasn't valued enough, I was alone, and when I moved on, the company was aware of that issue, and they changed the structure by expanding the team. When I worked in London, this position was already important to most companies, but when I returned to work in Spain, there were hardly any specialists and it was an emerging profession. Right now in Spain, I have come to count, through LinkedIn, more than 40 professionals in our country that are dedicated only to DMPs and Data.

Q: In our opinion 2020 is the year of Audience Marketing, particularly given the imminent rise of a cookie-less world. What are your thoughts on that? Do you agree with us (see image below)?

David Bole - Find a middle ground between personalisation and mass audiences

A: These two years until Google discontinues the third-party cookie in its Chrome browser are going to be critical for the definition of the digital ecosystem. Many expect Google to close even further by consolidating its role as ‘walled garden’ and permanently damaging digital ecosystem, since it is the only player with enough critical mass to offer (and impose) an alternative to cookies. However, I do not think that is the case. Having both market share and a quasi-monopoly position, any attempt in that direction can be answered by forceful sanctions by the European and North American competition authorities. My belief is that Google will coordinate with the main players of this upcoming landscape, so they so they can adapt to the new standard with enough advance.

About the image, from the customer's perspective, segmentation is always effective, but when you go to anonymous users (aka cookies), it's more complicated. It can be costly to strike the right key when segmenting, and it requires a lot of trial and error. That is why you always have to rely on various sources to achieve effective segmentation.

Q: Brands and especially agencies are considering alternatives and workarounds to losing cookie-type data. How do you think such organisations are getting ready for that change? Are CDPs (Customer Data Platforms) the answer?

A: Organizations completely depend on Google's willingness to synchronize with other players so that the alternative to third-party cookies is adopted by everyone. There is too much noise about CDPs but this technology, which is frankly useful, is not going to replace a DMP or retargeters. It’s a management tool for first-party data and its activation in brand environments, not third-party environments.

Q: What are DMPs (e.g. Permutive) role to play?

A: DMPs will continue to exist, in another way, but they will continue to exist. The only thing that is taking place is a commoditization of technology and therefore democratization of itself as costs are falling and sellers are reducing their prices. And this is able to be possible, among other reasons, by the appearance of new sellers like Permutive or 1plusX. It is true that these new sellers present themselves as innovative by not depending on cookies and putting user information in local storage, but many classic DMPs like Salesforce already do it to reduce their dependence on the cookies.

Q: Many publishers bet that advertisers will turn to publishers as third-party data disappears from the ecosystem. Others aren’t so sure. Will publishers have more power as the gatekeepers of audiences? Recently you suggested that “Publishers Feel Control Slipping Away”. What is your opinion?

A: Third-party data has always been highly questioned for its quality. However, despite this, I do not think it will disappear completely since they are suppliers that have a considerable volume to offer. The third-party data space is being overtaken by the second-party, which offers higher quality data, although with a lower volume. That is why it seems that many advertisers are going to become publishers.

In this context, the media should join forces with brands that allow access to their data to enrich their navigation data. Many online publications are already exploring becoming paid publications, which will allow them to collect consented data of its users. However, the change is so fast and with so many barriers it doesn't surprise me that many publishers are feeling a loss of control and that many will stay for the journey.

Q: Advertising agencies are receiving fervent pitches from market research companies, as a result of Google’s announcement that it was killing off third-party cookies. Do you see an opportunity for such research-based data companies to grow?

A: Before Google’s announcement, this was already a growing trend, you guys know it well. The need to get insights from advertising and social networks will not stop growing and it will not change in the future. Let's hope that the depreciation of third-party cookies does not further fragment the vision that we have of users online, generating even more silos.

Q: Quick bites - in 2020, we see (complete the sentence):

  • How the value of social data… will continue to grow as a source of insights and
  • targeting improvement
  • In the agencies vs consultancies “battle”… traditional agencies will lose more weight and the consultancies will gain greater prominence leveraging the sale of data projects
  • Advertising is still brilliant because… today it allows to do personalized magic with data
  • Between data-driven and data-informed marketing I… stick with data-driven. Unfortunately you never have the perfect data or models of attribution desired to make correct manual decisions. Even if we do not want to recognize it, we all make decisions with partial data (which does not mean with poor quality data) and whoever says otherwise, is cheating.

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