The digital advertising world has been continuously evolving. With the heightened concerns and talks about privacy and data protection coming at the forefront, the digital ecosystem is preparing itself to rely on first-party and second-party data sources. Tech platforms like Google and Apple have already taken significant steps in this direction.
Now big traditional advertisers have also amped up their first-party data channels. For example, ITC recently stated that they have executed 83% of their campaigns using first-party data. It has established marketing command centres called ‘Sixth Sense’ which helps the company with real-time consumer insights. The company stated they collect data from sources like market research, customer care, eCommerce, social media, and media impressions.
Speaking about how the brand is targeting consumers in a cookieless world, Jayen Mehta, Chief Operating Officer, Amul, said, “We believe in a pull strategy rather than a push strategy because when you interact with the consumer rather than talk to them, it leads to the generation of data.”
Mehta further explained how the brand is using its own distribution channels to get data. “What a lot of people don’t know is that we deal with millions of milk producers and billions of consumers on the other side. Every single litre of milk that we collect from farmers every day and the data is stored on a common ID platform and the payment goes directly to the farmer’s bank account. Imagine how digitally integrated the entire system is. 300 lakh litres of milk is coming in every day from 36,000 farmers and several thousand villages across the country. That is one source for us.”
He further said the brand has an app called ‘Locate Amul’ which makes it easier for consumers to locate Amul stores around them. The same app also has Amul distributors and its employees on it. The app makes it easy for them to map the consumer’s journey and that is a big data source for them.
“When I see you buying Amul butter, it becomes easier for me to target my other products like cheese and cream to you as well. I know that the person is my consumer and has an affinity for my products and category. We also have channels like Shop.Amul where you can order products that are delivered to you,” which again acts as a source.
Another FMCG giant, Parle, has also been leveraging its distribution channels to map data. According to Krishnarao Buddha, Sr Category Head - Marketing at Parle Products, they rely more than 80% on first-party data.
“Another big data source is the retailer. Close to 3.5 million stores are linked directly and indirectly to us. This also becomes my first-party data and becomes our footprint for us. This is important for us, it tells us about the product mixes being accepted in a region, where can I introduce new products, etc.”
According to Sudhish Sitaram, Regional Head of Marketing - India, Infobip, businesses/advertisers are investing in customer data platforms to map their journey.
“Such platforms will give them insights into what the customers require rather than just knowing their search trends. The data fed into machine learning algorithms will further model customer behaviour. To put it simply, the more you know your customers, the more successful your brand will be. In a cookieless environment, businesses will have to move out of their comfort zone and interact with the customers through conversational marketing tools such as live chats, AI-powered chatbots, and others, on their preferred channel.”
How are brands targeting new consumers?
While these brands are mapping consumer journeys through distributors and retailers to target newer consumers they are using second-party data through platforms like Amazon.
As per Krishnarao Buddha, the brand has struck deals with platforms like Big Basket and Amazon. They target their ads to relevant consumers on these platforms which helps with the discovery of the brand and newer products.
Similarly, Mehta of Amul explained their content strategy comes in handy for targeting new consumers. “Virality of content helps,” he said.
Giving an example he said they recently launched butter cookies and asked netizens to share pictures of other branded butter cookies with the percentage of butter in its ingredients mentioned behind the packs with the hashtag #AsliButterCookie. They wanted to drive the point that other brands’ cookies have a lot less butter, this created buzz and awareness.
They have also been running a recipe show on Facebook for the past two years. He said millions of consumer interactions are happing directly on that platform because of the show. “If the brand’s focus is on content, you will not need to depend on third-party data. This is how our content-driven strategy is helping us reach out to new consumers as well,” he stated.
Brands becoming a data platform
Giants like Meta and Apple were considered the biggest data sources. However, the demand for a cookie-less world has led to many D2C brands themselves becoming data platforms for advertisers.
For example, Marriott has announced the launch of a media network with Yahoo. This will let advertisers target consumers using the hotel chain’s data on guests. The ads will be showcased at places like the hotel's TVs, and elevators as well as the hotel’s website and apps.
Similarly, retail giant Walmart recently launched advertising technology that lets brands use Walmart data to buy ads outside its digital platforms. They have created an on-demand platform that will let brands use Walmart data to send targeted digital ads to their consumers.