Marketers can still engage their customers without relying on vast sources of third-party data. Start now to explore news ways to measure impact, rebalance the channel mix, and look to capture first-party data.
We’re hearing a lot of questions in the community about how to approach customer engagement strategies in the middle of these upheavals in tracking, privacy, and third-party data. While the landscape has shifted, and will continue to rightfully prioritize more privacy for consumers, there are exciting and even more promising technologies out there for savvy marketers to keep personalizing customer experiences, even without tracking pixels and cookies.
What is the impact to customer-centric marketers with Apple’s updated privacy protection?
Apple’s version 14 of its iOS operating system for iPhones and iPads, launched in July of 2021, included a number of new features that make it harder for third parties to gather user data. Most of the conversation has focused on the loss of third-party cookies — a major shift for sure, but not the whole story.
Beyond cookies, Apple is also blocking the work-arounds that app owners have developed to supplement (or compensate for the loss of) cookie data. Known as App Tracking Transparency, or ATT, Apple’s iOS14 additions require users to opt in to allowing third-party apps to track them. When a user gives permission, ATT requires the app to document and share (with the user) what it tracked.
The bottom line is that with ATT, many of the techniques marketers have used to gather user-identifiable data from an Apple device, including fingerprint identifiers, IP addresses, location data, or device characteristics, are off limits unless the user expressly allows them.
What will marketers lose as a result of these changes?
Gartner says that 56% of active U.S. mobile phones are Apple devices. Surveys conducted soon after Apple rolled out its new features find that about 13% of Apple users gave permission. Later surveys suggest that on average, 30% of users may eventually permit tracking, with variations depending on the app. This means that at least 40% of U.S. smartphone users will become digitally opaque.
The impacts are not isolated to users who opt out, either. Apple is also limiting in-app measurement to reduce the volume, granularity, and time-relevance of the data apps collect, even with permission. The result will be a dramatic reduction in the ability of marketers to target messages or attribute conversations to specific channels or campaigns.
To learn more about how cover the targeting gap, download Persado’s eBook: Forget Cookies: How activating first-party data with personalized language can save marketers in a post-cookie world
Are some aspects of my marketing more affected than others?
Email will take a big hit from the changes, since Apple devices account for 52% of all email opens. With the release of iOS15 in September of 2021, users are able to turn off tracking pixels, which capture data on open rates, IP addresses, and email addresses. This will effectively halt updates to data records for those customers.
Facebook is also feeling the impact. Due to the ATT opt-ins and limits on data collection, Facebook can no longer tell advertisers which ads performed and which didn’t; nor can the social media giant retarget ads. Early results suggest a steep drop in Facebook’s ability to show advertisers how their ad dollars translate into sales.
What’s the bottom line of these customer privacy changes?
No one knows for sure. We at Persado think it is very likely that most brands will have to spend more to get incremental conversions, until they figure out how to replace their old methods of digital targeting with new ones based on first-party data that customers agree to share with them. Persado also believes that brands that leverage language AI can limit or eliminate the added expense by improving the performance of all marketing messages. On average, 96% of Persado-generated messages are more effective than the brand’s “control” message (e.g. the one they would have run with) and produce an average 20% uplift in engagement. Persado not only improves the campaigns it runs experiments, but it captures the lessons that brands can apply to future communications across engagement and customer journey stages.
Most importantly for a post-cookie world, Persado has never depended on third-party data to operate or produce value. Our content generation and decisioning AI has always relied exclusively on our customer’s first-party data and historical brand messages to build customer language profiles and generate campaign messages aligned with them. Though Persado, like everyone else, will no longer be able to measure open rates for the campaigns we generate, that doesn’t concern us. We have historically captured those metrics because our customers used them to communicate with stakeholders. More meaningful engagement metrics exist that aren’t dependent on third-party data. Examples include click-through rates to a brand-owned web landing page, or actual purchases.
What should I do now to adapt my marketing strategy?
Apple’s updates definitely require marketers to shift how they measure their campaigns and how they prioritize what they do. The loss of third-party data will ultimately be a positive change, but it will require brands to take the following steps to transition their strategies away from dependence on third-party data:
- Clean up your data records. Take the time now to purge your customer data platform of inactive customer records. The new era of first-party data should be reliably grounded in data you own and trust because your customers gave it to you directly.
- Stop counting open rates. The methods you used to count on as proxies for campaign success don’t matter anymore. Open rates and attribution data will be less relevant. Instead, leverage macro-level purchasing activity and click rates that you capture from owned web pages where customers land after they click on an email or ad.
- Recalibrate how you think about your channels. Email will remain an important channel for communicating with customers. However, its role as a source of customer data and insights will likely diminish as more customers block tracking. For some brands, that will mean sending fewer, higher-quality email messages with content that’s designed to speak to well-defined, population-level needs.
- Activate your proprietary, first-party data with language that you know will engage. Persado’s content generation and decisioning AI leverages the anonymized, first-party data that a brand owns on its customers and enriches it with a personal language profile that the platform uses to generate content that works.
Our newest ebook goes into even more detail on how you can take action to make up for the shifts in privacy and loss of personalization from third-party data. You can download Forget Cookies here .