Why the industry needs a trusted data ecosystem across all screens

The marketing and digital industry has been shaken up by regulatory and technology challenges that pose a threat to making and measuring meaningful digital experiences for customers. In tandem, consumers are consuming media across a more fragmented range of screens and devices.

Speaking ahead of the panel, Vihan Sharma, managing director, Europe at LiveRamp, spoke to The Drum about this topic and how brands and media owners alike can win trust on every screen.

How have data needs changed as media has fragmented across more screens?

When digital media started and ended with browsing on your computer, it used to be so straightforward. Back then, cookies seemed like an adequate mechanism to identify user behaviour.

Cross-channel proliferation has changed all that. Consumers now spread their digital consumption across a range of devices and use them in different contexts throughout the day – a computer at work, a phone on-the-go, a tablet with their kids, a connected TV at night.

And because each device mainly relies on different identifiers—third-party cookies in the browser context, mobile IDs when in-app, and IP addresses for CTV—it’s become increasingly challenging to effectively connect with users across channels.

For modern marketers, it is vital to have a holistic understanding of their customers, rather than a fragmented view across devices.

What challenges does this create?

Data fragmentation poses challenges to delivering meaningful experiences across all touchpoints due to the lack of visibility into a customer view that includes all these touchpoints. Different identifiers for different screens also make cross-screen frequency capping, suppression, segmentation, personalisation, and measurement increasingly difficult.

These challenges go from difficult to impossible when third-party cookies are deprecated and mobile IDs become more limited over the next year.

Given these headwinds, it’s undeniable that we need to move to a user-based solution, which not only solves for cross-screen challenges but also resets the user-publisher relationship through trusted value exchanges.

Why is trust so important in this context?

The industry has historically not done enough to provide transparency around how data is used, which has ultimately led to a downturn in consumer trust. Regulatory measures have come into play to ensure that consumers can gain this transparency, as well as providing choice and control over how their information is used.

Publishers now need to regain trust, and the way to do that is by offering a clear and fair value exchange. An ecosystem built on trust will deliver transparency for consumers, stronger revenue models for publishers, and better measurement capabilities for advertisers.

What are some of the solutions to this?

The emergence of solutions that leverage first-party audience authentications offers an opportunity to restore trust.

The move away from third-party cookies and device IDs is the forcing function the industry needs to finally adopt a better solution.

A key emerging alternative utilises publishers’ trusted relationships with their own audience. Gaining authenticated users – for example, by asking for email addresses in return for valuable content – is a way that publishers can build first-party data in a privacy-first way, generating valuable user data that can feed addressable inventory into advertiser demand.

Users will be guaranteed transparency, control and choice. Publishers can return to the driving seat, and avoid further disintermediation in their user and ad buyer relationships. Advertisers will see a smoother path to cross-channel executions and measurement as addressable inventory transcend device limitations.

How will this trend evolve?

In 2021, we can expect publishers to accelerate testing, learning, and optimising of authentication strategies that enable subscriber and advertising growth.

Publishers will get creative and diversify their tactics for doing so. Beyond merely freemium and metered access, options include email subscriptions, social logins, voting, and access to commenting on stories and participation in community forums.

From there, the data and insights gathered can be used to inform both the subscription and advertising sides of the business. For example, the same audience data set created by subscriber acquisition in recent years can also be valuably deployed to improve targeting. Likewise, consented data from non-subscription users can play a similar part in the subscription team’s customer acquisition funnel.

Sign up to watch the session for free as catch-up, to hear Vihan Sharma, managing director, Europe at LiveRamp talk about this subject, alongside Jonathan Lewis, head of digital and partnership innovation at Channel 4, Tracey Woods, marketing director at HeyCar UK and Bedir Aydemir, head of audience and data, News UK. The session went live on Monday 9 November.