How To Maintain Advertising ROAS when Third-Party Cookies Disappear?

June 10, 2021

On June 9, 2021, DELVE hosted a webinar with Jeremy Woodlee, Google; Bill Leonhardt, Otter Products; Betsy Sellars, DELVE; and Emma Marcotte, DELVE, to discuss the impact of third-party cookie and IDFA deprecation on ROAS in advertising.

We began the conversation by restating the facts, as summarized on the following slide:

All the panelists agreed that your brand’s own first-party data is the key to maintaining advertising performance in a world without third-party data. 

During the webinar, we discussed:

Betsy Sellars, Head of Media, DELVE
Bill Leonhardt, Program Manager, Otter Products
Jeremy Woodlee, Director, Google Marketing Platforms

Moderator: Emma Marcotte, Head of Engagement Consulting, DELVE

Note: the following transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

Emma: Thank you for joining the webinar today to talk about how to achieve a return on ad spend in the absence of third-party cookies. In this webinar we have representatives from Google, Otter Products, and DELVE. We will be offering best practices aimed at marketing professionals who plan to execute digital advertising strategies and those who are just generally concerned about the impact of third-party cookies and IDFA deprecation on advertising ROAS. This is a topic that has been hot on everyone’s radar, and we’re all very interested in knowing how it’s going to impact our businesses and how we do our jobs. So, before we really jump in, I’d like to introduce our panelists. Betsy, I’ll turn it over to you — tell us a little bit about yourself, what you do at DELVE, and a quick background on DELVE in general.

Betsy: I’m Betsy Sellers. I’m the Head of Media here at DELVE. I oversee our programmatic, SEM, and Paid Social Teams. I’ve been doing this for about 15 years. I’ve seen a lot of changes in our rapidly evolving industry, having worked both the client-side and agency side. What I really like about DELVE is our focus on measurement-first advertising. We got our start within analytics first and then expanded into media from there. So analytics is really at the heart of everything we do here.

Emma: Excellent. Thank you, Betsy. I’ll turn it over to you, Bill. Tell us a little bit about yourself. How long have you been at Otter Products and what’s your role there?

Bill: I’m Bill Leonhardt, I’ve been at Otter Products for about 2.5 years. Prior to Otter, I spent some time at Microsoft, Facebook and AdTech. Here at Otter Products, I am Program Manager for Marketing, Analytics, and Technology. My focus is on maturing our marketing approach through data and enabling that data to reach all the teams across the company.

Emma: Thank you, Bill. And finally, Jeremy. Tell us a little bit about your role at Google and just general industry background.

Jeremy: I’m Jeremy Woodley, a Director on the Americas Platforms team within Google. That’s the former Doubleclick business. I manage all our non-traditional partners or non-holding company partners, which includes agencies, system integrators, and channel resale partners like DELVE. My role, lately, has been as an evangelist — speaking about these changes and how they impact marketers’ ability to continue to use our toolsets and buy advertising through Google with our partners. I have the privilege of working with really advanced partners like DELVE that understand how to do this and are taking it to the next level and preparing for the future.

Emma: Thank you, Jeremy. I’ll quickly introduce myself. My name is Emma Marcotte. I lead the DELVE Engagement Consulting Practice. This practice within DELVE functions as the primary point of contact for our clients in a strategic client success manner as well as focuses on new business; making sure that we’re setting up our new clients for success. We really function as the glue. In my role, I get questions from clients who want to understand: “how is this going to impact my business?” and “where am I going to go from here?” Excited to jump into the topic with you today.

But before we begin, I think it would be fair to say, we’re all still a bit in the dark about what this third-party cookie deprecation means for advertising and programmatic advertising. Third-party cookies are a core component of how many of us run our programmatic strategies today. Let’s restate the facts: privacy concerns drove Apple to remove IDFA. And now Google is taking a step forward to remove third-party cookies. Third-party cookie deprecation means that this will remove third-party audiences from a targeting perspective.

As we know, third-party audiences are critical for tactics such as prospecting and retargeting within the programmatic space. The programmatic advertising space is a $94 billion market in the US alone (that what it’s expected to be in 2022). So this has a big impact on everyone here today. When third-party cookies disappear, some of the third-party audiences will just inherently be less effective. And, that could create concerns.

Some of the programmatic advertising budgets will yield a lower ROAS and this is exactly what we’re trying to address today… How do we maintain performance? How do we maintain, grow, given that these third-party audiences are going to be less effective than they are right now? And how do we navigate this future state?

Excited to dive into this topic, especially since we have representatives from all three sides. So a lot of different perspectives in the room today. We have the service side being Betsy, client-side with Bill. And then the platform side with Jeremy. Let’s provide context on our first topic. Jeremy, I’ll turn it over to you. Why did Google join forces with Apple on the issue of consumer privacy?

Jeremy: The announcement we made back in March was (made by)  the Google Ads business — we decided that we needed to take a position around consumer privacy, digital identity,  going forward. It is not a Google Chrome announcement. Chrome operates independently and makes their own decisions.  I think what (the announcement) reflects is a belief that we have. There is a fundamental change in consumer sentiment around digital identity and consent, around the usage of that data.

That manifests in many different ways— for example, regulations emerging in different countries (and different states in the United States) like GDPR, CCPA. You see companies reacting to that; understanding consumers want more control over their digital identity, more ability to disappear or control the ways that the data is being used.

Apple certainly has taken a leadership position, working with the different approaches to identity. Chrome made the same decision: they’re saying consumers want more control. The ads business, obviously, relies on digital identity deeply, to be able to target and measure advertising. We have (impact) on both on our own media, and then on third-party media, but we also have to understand the consumer sentiment of change — they want more control. Our decision in March was about setting a standard we think is well beyond where the current lines are in terms of laws and regulations. Consumers want additional controls and additional restrictions on digital identity that, over time, means our current architecture for managing digital identity is going to have to change.

We’re going to have to move away from what we call a precision era to a more of a predictive era, away from deterministic to probabilistic approaches. We took a hard look and we decided we could do that — we can move away from the level of resolution we have around digital identity and use modeling techniques that are currently in place within our products, or could easily be developed, displayed, and deployed within the ecosystem to be able to do the major use cases and maintain the return on ad spend that we’ve seen in the past. 

It is difficult to implement, so we started down this road now — leaning on partners, like DELVE to be able to take advertisers on that journey — because it does require experimentation. It does take changes to tactics and approaches and it opens up doors to different ways of having relationships with consumers.

If you go back to the original point: we’re not making decisions — we’re reacting to how consumers are changing their minds about the topic. We think that’s so fundamental and important. We made a big push, and we’re going to take a leadership position on this topic. We’re here to work with the entire ecosystem, advertisers, and partner agencies to figure out how to make this transition. We have total confidence it can be done. And I do think we’ll end up in a better place, in terms of how we do digital advertising fundamentally.

Emma: Bill, let me turn it over to you. What was your team’s first reaction when you heard the Google announcement?

Bill: In all honesty, the marketer in me was disappointed. Here at Otter Products, we’re at an inflection point. We’re bringing our ad tech stack in-house. We’re adopting some Google marketing platforms. We’ve made huge strides with our finance department in terms of measurement and building trust across the entire company. As marketers, we’re doing what’s right for the company. We’re good stewards of the company’s dollar. My initial reaction was, oh no! This (progress) is all going to go away — everything we’ve just built over the last two years and are working on today.

After taking a step back, and realizing that if Google is on board with this, I have faith that Google will protect its own business and do what’s right for the ecosystem as a whole. Just like Jeremy said, I’m not worried moving forward. It’s just a lot more education that needs to happen internally, particularly with the finance teams. Building that company trust back again, not that we’ve lost it, but it’s going to be a little bit more difficult, from a consumer lens. But, for our consumers, we want that protection. We want to work with partners and work with platforms that enable us to follow the government rules around the world. So, I’m excited about that portion of it. I think it’s clearly the direction of the future.

We need to sort of take a half step back, reset, and go forward. As Jeremy said, it’s gonna be a lot less about individuals and what their consumer journey was, and more about modeling and how we play within that space. At Otter, we’re in a good spot moving forward. We have some decent first-party data that we’re trying to pull together and utilize. So overall, we’re happy to see Google make this move.

Emma: Betsy, we’d love to get your reaction. What have you heard from DELVE’s clients? What was your personal reaction to this announcement?

Betsy: I think Bill recapped it well. There was definitely some initial panic. I would say a lot of confusion just around timing and what are the implications? It’s not just the Google announcement, it’s everything else that’s out there in the market with ESA and app tracking transparency, etc. It’s also seen a little bit of, I don’t know if it’s quite a denial, but a lack of urgency, that change is coming. 

I think the recent iOS updates impacting Facebook campaigns have been an eye-opener for several of our clients. We’ve seen metrics take a hit in the UI just because of that and it’s not because the conversions aren’t happening. It’s because they’re not being reported out on. I think that is eye-opening — hey, this can literally impact my performance metrics overnight.

We’ve also seen an interest in partnering with DELVE to proactively prepare. One of the things that we’ve been talking to a lot of clients about is Amazon intent data. We’ll dive into that a little bit more later, but the general mentality is — I would echo Bill and Jeremy —that we’re all in this together. We’re all coming at it from different angles, but we really need to figure it out together as clients and server-side partners, too.

Emma: That makes a lot of sense. We are on the same team but for our clients, there’s been a stark shift in how they’re approaching these conversations. With some of the most recent changes — when the announcement first came out — I think everyone is just a little confused.

To your point, Betsy, it did create a lack of urgency but as we are starting to see the change, it’s really sparked a fire and (an interest in) setting up for success — which is what we want (our clients) to do in partnership with tech partners to make sure that we’re really ready when this happens.

Betsy: I think, Emma, a lot of what we’re talking about is what I call Story. There is a positive story around this, particularly around first-party data and around party connection. In this new world, the more you have a connection to the consumer— a direct relationship with them — and understand how they’re reacting to different marketing and advertising messages and how that is driving outcomes,  the better. And I think that’s a real positive message we’ve also seen emerge from the pandemic: the explosion of digital touchpoints and the opportunity to change how you talk to consumers and deliver value.

This is the foundation of the activation in the measurement you need. And I think, for most brands, it’s the way you want to go. It is an example of what I call a positive change — really respecting your consumers, intent, and desire about their data, about their privacy.

Emma: I couldn’t agree more. It’s definitely about a balance here, with these changes. As I mentioned in the opening, tech platforms are really leaning on third-party cookies. To make this a bit more real for our audience, and given that Bill from Otter Products is here with us today, I wanted to give an example of what we’re referring to. . . 
If I’m going to buy a new iPhone from Best Buy’s website, a tech vendor such as BlueKai could pixel me, and then BlueKai would put me into a third-party audience segment called iPhone 12 owners. Now BlueKai can send that data to a DSP, such as DV360 and finally, Bill’s team at Otter Products could serve programmatic ads for lifeproof cases to that third-party audience. Since they know that they have an iPhone 12, this is what could be part of their prospecting efforts or their retargeting efforts.

And with all of that, third-party audience, targeting, and programmatic will be adversely impacted by these third-party cookies going away given that clear example. So this is why brands who rely heavily on programmatic advertising need to pay attention to the third-party cookie changes and IDFA, deprecation. As you know, just using that very simple example, we are all going to be impacted in terms of deterministic targeting and to Jeremy’s point earlier — we need to get comfortable and excel at leaning into that probabilistic approach.

Bill, does this use case resonate with you and your team? Do you care that sometime in 2022, that the current level of third-party audience targeting will be no longer possible? And how do you see this impacting your team or your efforts? 

Bill: It’s forcing us to do is push ourselves across this maturity curve a lot faster — which has its own problems and priorities — and balance with other company initiatives. We’ve historically been pretty reliant on third-party data within platforms themselves.

I briefly mentioned building trust between Marketing and Finance. Again, my concern is: “Hey, great, look at our efforts from 2020, and our efforts in 2021” and then when February of 2022 comes around, and everything tanks… We have a lot of explaining to do…. We can prep the company in advance, and we’ve already been doing that but we’ve got to re-evaluate the platforms we use and what we absolutely need moving forward is the ability to hook our first-party data into the platforms. At the end of the day, whoever makes it the easiest for people like us is probably going to get our business.

So, third-party cookies very much a concern for us, we’re probing and we have to push ourselves to move faster across the aforementioned data.  For us, we have 3 or 4 different initiatives across the company (focused) on pulling data together in a private, safe way that we can utilize for marketing. It’s a heavy lift for a company like us to do that but it’s also necessary. This is something that we’ve been wanting to do for the last five years — align warranty data with marketing data with sell through data from our dot coms plus any in store or a channel partner information we can get. 

So looking at the positives for Jeremy here, we’re really able to push the company in a direction that we needed to go anyway… Justify our spend and become more efficient. ROAS is important but the efficiency of our spend is equally important. Are we getting more bang for our buck? We need to be as efficient as possible. 

Emma: I wanted to highlight a couple of other use cases that the third-party cookie removal will impact for brands… So, we’re leaning into prospecting in the example I provided before, for retargeting on mobile and desktop, as it will be impacted. Partners that are heavily reliant on third-party cookies such as Criteo should definitely be worried about this because it’s the foundation of everything they’re doing. So, when those go away, the foundation crumbles with it, right? And then, another big one that we’ve been talking about is frequency controls, on mobile and desktop, this will definitely be impacted. Marketers will be constrained in their ability to manage frequency controls and programmatic advertising…Those are just two additional use cases that illustrate why marketers really need to care about the third-party cookies. Finally…deprecation. All these techniques that we’re leaning into heavily right now will be impacted. And then, to Bill’s point, we expect (our ability) to grow to be impacted as well.

We’ve talked a lot about some of the negatives that are coming from this. But let’s really turn, flip the script, and focus on the glass being half full. So another question for our panelists: third-party data cookies are going away and brands see diminishing returns with their third-party targeting strategies and programmatic, what data would we advise them to look for? How can we try and maintain — grow — in this world? So let me turn this to Betsy. What’s your reaction to this and what’s your advice?

Betsy: Jeremey spoke a little bit about the probabilistic side which will be very important. But there will still be deterministic data. And so it’s important to look for that data that is deterministic and has strong and well-defined intent signals. One example of that would be within Amazon DSP, which offers a pretty compelling data set that allows advertisers to leverage intent data.

Product searches, product views, product purchases, and what is interesting is, you can use it not just from an inclusion standpoint, but also from an exclusion standpoint. So, a couple of practical examples. Otter Products can actually include users who are in-market for a new phone as demonstrated by their product view or search behavior within Amazon but also exclude users who recently purchased a case from some of their major competitors. 

Emma: That’s really helpful. Is Amazon the only example of how brands can lean into intent data? Are our other partners doing this as well?

Betsy: Google, Google Shopping are great sources of intent data that can be leveraged for audience targeting via DV360. So a practical example, for other products maybe within some of the lower funnel advertising efforts: target users searching for iPhone cases on Google Shopping. Pick that up and target via DV360…funnel efforts. You might want to target someone who has recently searched for how to transfer contacts to a new phone or best Android phone reviews.

Bill: These are tactics that we do use, by the way. The other piece of missing information here is (research). We recently commissioned a consumer journey study, which helps us essentially reinforce our thoughts and our gut feelings around intent. 

The user sees a display ad, they do a search on Google, they come to dot com. They bounce out, see another ad, and then they end up at Amazon or some other third-party marketplace, or go into a store. We’re trying to utilize the consumer journey information that we have, plus the intent within platforms to be a lot more effective at the end of the day.

Emma: Thank you for sharing that, Bill. Jeremy, let me turn it over to you. From the Google perspective: how do you see brands leaning into Google’s intent data for their advertising?

Jeremy: Increasingly, having a backbone of first-party data will be critical. We’re going to be talking a lot about a feature on our platform called Customer Match. It has the ability to import your e-mail addresses;  to be able to match to identity and then be able to use that to extend similar audiences. Broaden your reach. So that’s within the Google universe. 

And we’re going to be really leaning into making more tools available to take data, first-party data consent, and the consent of data from consumers and be able to use that to create the right messaging and marketing at that moment. It’s a fairly new feature in some respects and it’ll be developed and made better over time. The other thing to think about, in terms of what’s out there: experimentation is coming in the privacy sandbox within Chrome — the different proposals would recreate audience-based targeting that we see through audience lists today.

Like you mentioned earlier, in that example with iPhone 12 users and the ability to replicate remarketing, retargeting — those are in experimentation. They’re still being developed and finalized. We will integrate those into our products to enable that functionality in the future. The platform will support that. It’s part of our commitment, as a platform company, to mask some of that complexity so that an advertiser doesn’t have to understand the sandbox. (They) just need to understand that we can replicate audience-based targeting and the options we had in the old, cookie-based world in a world without cookies and work across different environments. Whether that is Safari or Chrome or in an app environment. One thing to think about — there is actually a fair amount of modeling already built into things like frequency and reach management today, because of the lack of data that we have already. The deprecation and Mobile Identifiers. Particularly, within the Apple environment.

I think the numbers we’re seeing 60 – 70% of current programmatic addressable media have identifiers -and at least 30 to 40% don’t. And, we see models going down to 10 to 15% when cookies really do get deprecated in 2022. So, you’re going to have to have a strategy but you already have the tools, like ours.  We are already thinking about modeling frequency and reach management with the current tool because we don’t have 100% identity. We’ve been having to do that for quite a few years.

Emma: That’s really helpful context. Thank you, Jeremy. Let’s center the conversation now around first-party data. So today, we’ve really been talking about the changes in third-party data and what that means for advertisers, but let’s lean into first-party data now to understand: how can we best use that to support this change? In the spirit of keeping this actionable, I’ll give another example similar to the way I did at the beginning. So, if I search for iPhone cases on Google, I’m actually leaving my personal intent data with Google. That’s why the large tech partners such as Google, Amazon, Facebook are so formidable because they have access to this really powerful intent user data left by consumers.

This is really foundational. Similar to Google, Amazon and Facebook, brands can also do that. Brands can generate their own first-party intent data, and then use it for really powerful and actionable advertising. Let’s talk about the brand’s first-party data here a little bit. So there’s a number of different types.

If we start at the top of the consumer journey that focuses on data that consumers leave behind when they browse a website or app, the web app is captured on the brand’s site or an app analytics solution. So if I go to, I’m browsing around, I’m leaving my intent data on that site and it’s captured by systems that they already have in place.

Jeremy, help set the stage for us. Google is working on the new GA Enterprise. It will store Web and app data. Will it be affected by third-party cookie deprecation?

Jeremy: Well, certainly. That’s a major driver. Track and understand what consumers are doing on different sides via a product like GA. The commitment we have is we will migrate the use cases that are within GA to this new world over time — we’re figuring that out. I’m not a product person. I don’t know exactly how that will work. But the commitment is to be able to migrate all the major use cases for GA into a world where third-party cookies are not available. This includes the ability to use some of that data around consumer usage, first-party data — again, that you have as an advertiser — to be able to use it within the ads products…Leaders within the organization feel and see a path and we’re committed. We will work with our partners like DELVE to be able to walk you through. That’s a commitment…to support the advertising use cases out there today with our platforms. And in this new environment, we will find a way to get there.

Emma: Can you speculate on the impact of third-party cookie removal on Adobe Analytics? And as full disclosure for the group, DELVE is a GMP partner reseller for GA360 and GA Enterprise. But we’re also well aware that Adobe Analytics is a really large competitor to GA360.

Jeremy: I haven’t had a chance to talk with my Adobe counterparts…My honest feeling is they’re a big, well-established business. They (likely) have a very similar approach. GA4, Google Analytics, we really do rely on the marketing analytics use cases — the marketing use cases versus the analytics. I think (Adobe) may be more centered on (analytics) but (they) have a lot of marketing use cases. They’re going to find a way to make this work, just as we will. As an industry, we all need to do that — to be able to transition to a new world without cookies. And still, be able to support the advertiser’s needs.

So I don’t personally have a lot of insight into (Adobe). I’m not a product lead within Google’s competitive intel. But knowing a lot of the people (in the industry), they’re going to be working on the same problems and are similarly highly capable.

Emma: Thanks, Jeremy. Let’s talk about the brands’ first-party data and for now still in the context of data that consumers leave at the beginning of their journey, i.e. brands app website first-party data. So, Bill, let me turn to you. So, what’s your perspective on the role of web and app analytics tools, such as GA or Adobe, and how can they improve advertising performance, particularly understanding the context of collecting first-party data?

Bill: We need to know the consumer journey — when they go to an information page when they look at a product grid, when they’re interested in the product, what color they choose…All that’s foundational for us, because then we’re going to bucket into different audiences across the board. Then we’re going to feed the information into our ad platforms. So, first and foremost — foundational and building an understanding, the consumer journey, and consumer audiences. But more so, how do we measure success from a media side using GA…Our e-commerce team won’t like this. But I would argue that we’re probably in GA more than they are. And what we’re looking at is essential, are we sending qualified audiences to the website? How long are they spending on the site? How many pages did they go through? What was a call to action effective? Was that landing page working or not? Do we need to switch it?

So all of that is super important for us and will alter our media plans and creative are based on how consumers are coming to the saying what they’re doing there. Ultimately, we want to shorten that consumer journey, click on an ad, get to the site, purchase repeat. GA and Web Analytics are super important for us immediately.

Emma: Betsy, what’s your perspective? You’re leading a team of 25 plus media traders, managing a ton of media for DELVE clients across Search, Social Display. Can you talk a little bit about how Web analytics is used to lift advertising performance on a day-to-day level?

Betsy: Bill actually just outlined a bunch of the best practices and I was going to talk about. So, that’s covered. I will just add a couple of things like we are traders and really look to understand the conversion funnel metrics on every step. Where’s the drop-off…how does it vary by media source or traffic source? Landing page testing is another big piece of it as well, if someone is getting to a page and bouncing, maybe that’s not the right page. It is meeting their needs. So that’s something we take into consideration. Segmentation, as Bill mentioned, and then also audience suppression. In that example of somebody coming to the site and bouncing, maybe I don’t want to serve them 10 more ads. Maybe I want to suppress that audience.

Emma: That’s really helpful. As we take this a step deeper, first-party data is the data stored on apps or web analytics solutions. It also can be data stored in the lower half of the consumer journey — customer purchase data that brands can store in the data lake or CRM system. For example, at DELVE, we see a lot of brands using a combination of their app, web, and customer purchase data for some really key use cases, such as predictive lifetime value. So, to focus media on acquiring customers who are likely to buy again…And, again, really leaning into that loyalty perspective. And then next, best action and personalization. So using task behavior to inform what products we could serve someone next, or what products we should recommend them, based on what we know about them as a consumer.

Bill, leaning into the personalization perspective. How are our products using first-party data today to deliver a really good user experience and really focusing on both the predictive lifetime value as well as that next best product?

Bill: I would honestly say we’re in the learning phase of getting good at this. We utilize the Google platforms and Facebook platforms, and we’re pretty reliant on those algorithms to deliver those personalizations. But we are using first-party data and pushing it into various platforms around this segmentation, just like we were talking about. 

So iPhone user, recent purchaser, who should we cross-sell or up-sell in 60 days for screen protection (or an accessory or some sort of product like that)? We are trying to consolidate all of our consumer data into one spot, utilize that and push that out. So personalization goes beyond just ads. Obviously, we want to replicate that on the site.

A person enters the site (and we) give them exactly what they’re looking for. If they’re an iPhone user, only show them those phone products. But if they are Samsung users, show them Samsung products, etc. And try to cross-sell and upsell from there, so super important for us and we’re really trying to learn as we go. We do know it’s all about shortening the consumer journey as I mentioned previously.

Emma: Tying this back to our conversation at the beginning, do you think that a better user experience — talking about personalization — leads to better results? 

Bill: Yes, absolutely. Again, back going back to the conversations we’ve had with our Finance teams and being good stewards of our dollar…the less money that we spend acquiring a consumer the better.  The better the user experience, the more likely they are to recommend, the more likely to come back, we create this loyalty. We create the flywheel.

Jeremy: Google is seeing the same thing across our businesses — small tweaks and mobile experience, in particular, can result in vastly better conversion rates…which, obviously, we care a lot about. It is an obvious lever to be able to pull…better commerce, better capabilities, better shopping cart experiences, better recommendation engines but not easy to do. We have all seen, as consumers, places that do it well, notably Amazon. So, I think there’s a lot of (room for) tweaks and improvements. We can make first party experiences that just (continue to) improve.

(Think of it) as a spine of deterministic data: even with the cookie going way, you’re going to be able to understand that you served consumers an ad, they went to your site, they bought something. You have a sense of return on investment and you can use that to model. You can say: this is the environment I advertised in and these are the tactics I used. Then you can extrapolate, this will generate this amount of business for me and my website. And then you can start to understand, through that journey, how to optimize the targeting and the advertising itself — the creative, the site experience, the shopping cart experience.  Those are the tools that we want to empower the advertisers to be able to really understand and be able to go activate.

Bill: it’s changing the culture, at least within Otter. Our team is working together — e-commerce, media…And all this data and all of these tools at Google (are) allowing us to do that. So we’re really all rowing in the same direction, where previously, we might have been a few different silos and kind of having our own agenda.

So all of this is to make the company more efficient. One of the interesting byproducts of this is that I think there might have been a false specificity of cookie data and ID of a mobile identity that in a digital advertising world, we’re going to tie it all together and have a lot of data to understand the full purchase path and the multi-touch attribution models. But that left out a lot of advertising methods that are highly effective, that we don’t have that level of digital identity tracked. As a marketer, you’d have to make evaluations, different media, so the MMM still has a lot of value because of that.  

Now, you think there’s a moment where we can maybe step back from that false specificity and use modeling to understand programmatic digital advertising, but also to understand, those same models can evaluate — direct mail, or radio, or television advertising, potentially. It’s exciting because I think it might make our ability to understand the full journey better. If we embrace more of a probabilistic model-based approach. And I think that’s better for the marketer 

Emma: Betsy, how does your team use insights from the data science team in media management? How can we really tie that back to the actual performance?

Betsy: I can give an example. We’ve worked with Stride Gaming out of the UK, a big online gambling gaming client on the creation of a machine learning algorithm that would allow for bidding to a predicted future value of the consumer…The end goal here was to shift the marketing spend toward the acquisition of those high-value users.  And we see this. This is applicable across many different industries. Not all users are created equal, so how do we make sure we’re going after those high-value ones? And not just the ones that maybe convert once at a low amount. What was unique here is that we included the offline conversion data as well and as a result, it was able to actually predict user LTV with 88% accuracy.

The marketing team was able to take this and reallocate the budget and make sure that we’re targeting users that had the highest potential to be high value. And, you know, that’s kind of an ideal state, and we’re seeing a lot of interest from our clients right now on getting to that ideal state. We have a lot of data lake projects in the works across numerous clients right now in partnership with Google. And….it’s highly applicable to our non-profit clients. So, you might get that initial single donation from someone, but then how do we convert them into a monthly donor and can keep them engaged over a longer period of time? And pLTV plays a big role in that.

It’s really great to hear that clients are taking an interest in taking the steps forward now to set themselves up for success with these different tools such as data like CDP, to ensure that we’re empowered to use first-party data when first-party data is really going to become king.

Emma: BCG recently stated, and I’m paraphrasing here, that brands that embrace their own first-party data, can increase their advertising ROAS up to 60%, which is a super high number. And more, interestingly, only 2% of brands are really using their own first-party data to create a seamless cross app web store and call center, and personalized experience. So, with that, what is your POV on the above statement? I know we’ve talked about this a little bit already, but does Otter Products see a bigger opportunity today? And using first-party data to improve ROAS and deliver a really personalized experience? Or are both really equally important for your business right now?

Bill: Both are equally important for our business, but if I had to choose one, I’ll be going after ROAS, as I think it’s a bigger opportunity.  Budgets shift and change, and move around. If we can be more efficient with our dollars across the entire funnel, the more trust is created. The bigger the budgets we get, the happier the company is at the end of the day. It stretches our dollar a lot further. And so that’s why I want to focus on that. And then once we prove out that impact, that conversation gets a lot easier with everybody throughout the company, the C-suite, etc.

Personalization is extremely important to us, too. We want that consumer experience to be seamless across the board. We want to deliver the right message to the right person at the right time. Are you in the discovery phase? Are you doing research? Are you about to purchase and just looking for the lowest price you can possibly get? The better that we can get a message to that person in that moment will drive that efficiency which will keep that flywheel going. From a business perspective, you can’t  have a better ROAS without that personalization piece

Emma: So, Jeremy, any closing thoughts on this topic or really anything that we’ve discussed today?

Jeremy: I don’t want to oversimplify but I do think this is a journey we’re all taking together. We are in a world that cookies have not disappeared. Identifiers are out there. So you have to continue to use the tools you have available to you. But I think it’s important that you start to invest in durable tactics and experiments in the new world. That makes sense for your business — (look at) where you have levers that you can pull and get down this road. I think I’ve tried to talk not about the negative use cases, but some of the positive use cases. Particularly around first-party data, and consumer journeys. There are interesting things we can do as an industry — tie things together better…Google is here to provide advertising platforms and media advertising to help marketers achieve their goals. 

Our mission is to make sure that we provide a future, a way that the path, but that doesn’t happen without a DELVE.  It doesn’t happen without Otter. It doesn’t happen without all the constituents of the ecosystem. It’s a process will have to go through and we’ll have to invest in over time…What we’re looking for is engagement and experimentation and adoption of some of these tactics that make sense for your business as we’re making this transition from today to the tomorrow. That is my big message. It is an exciting time in this industry. 

As our RTB emerged and programmed, media became something we can do. And it reminds me a lot of that in a sense — there’s a lot of change. And that means that those that are paying attention and adopting trends and getting ahead of this are going to do better in this new world. So I encourage everybody to take a hard look at it and think about: what are the benefits and also the negatives? Talk to your partners, talk to other people you know. and start to invest right now.

Emma: As always, change presents an opportunity. As Jeremy said: it’s about who is ready to take that opportunity — those are the people and the brands that are really going to come out on top. Betsy, thoughts?

Betsy: Change is what keeps this industry interesting, right? I am never bored at work. There’s always something new to learn or to test. And I think, to Jeremy’s point, the time is now, to start with testing. Big or small, just start prepping for the changes now. Changes are coming and we’re here to help.

Emma: In closing, the new GA free and GA360, the paid version, will be available for whitelisting beta as soon as this summer. And our recommendation, as a GMP reseller,  would be to get ahead of your first-party web app data. And definitely consider upgrading to GA360 now. If you’re not using databases, you’re not using the paid version of GA360.

Jeremy, Betsy, Bill, it was certainly a pleasure hosting you and really appreciate the thoughtful and strategic answers. We did want to leave about 10 minutes here for questions. Jeremy, I’ll direct this question to you: let’s talk a little bit about the timeframe for this change. 2022 is what’s on the radar…is there any more information you have to share?

Jeremy: This is where we are listening to others as much as you’re listening to us. It’s really Google Chrome’s decision — it is about how they handle cookies. They’ve been very transparent: they are going to migrate to a world without cookies. But they’re going to do it when the advertising ecosystem is prepared to make that leap so we can support advertising and use cases. And that’s what the Sandbox is all about — you may heard about things in development, like FloC and Fledge (the audience targeting and remarketing option in the future). There’s a measurement version coming soon that will be out there for testing and experimentation. In terms of absolute timelines, we’re guessing 2022. As an ads business, we want to tell people that we saw this coming. We want to respect consumer consent. We want to start our own evolution of our platform toward more probabilistic and start to experiment and look at opportunities right now, even with cookies and identifiers still being around. We can start to use some of these tools to accomplish the same goals. This year is a good one to start finding moments to test, to look at more probabilistic modeling approaches for understanding how the advertising is going to build better first-party data connections with consumers. There’s a lot of foundational work, that’s what we’re encouraging people to do, and then next year is going to be a big year for transition out of this cookie-based infrastructure.

Emma: Can you elaborate on the use of GA 360 versus GA free in this transition? Jeremy, I’ll direct that one to you.

Jeremy: Our investment is very much in GA 360 and the new version that we’re calling GA4 that we’ll be launching and will incorporate a lot of app functionality in particular out of Firebase. We have a lot to incorporate — privacy, safety aspects. I’m turning it back to Betsy because I think you are more in the trenches on the feature differentiation between GA free and GA paid. 

Betsy: As a media person, I remember the first time I saw GA360, having worked in GA free extensively, I was like, holy****.  I have all my CM data here — it’s just the efficiencies that create, in terms of consolidating performance, data, media data, within one view. And within one platform. Honestly, that’s the biggest benefit that I see: having a single source of truth. Of course, there are always limits, where Facebook won’t allow us to pull impression data, etc but from what I’ve seen, just the benefits to media buyers, or analytics teams, in terms of being able to access a lot more data in one place, make it really valuable. I think even more so as we move into this world where third-party cookies do not exist. And, as we talked earlier, collecting web and app data, having the best tools, and best resources to allow you to do that and use that data is going to become even more important. There’s certainly an early adopter advantage now. You get more sample data to work with and it’s just it’s faster and more efficient for media and marketing teams overall.

Emma: What would be the best path to register and get the beta version for this change? I think that’s a question specific to Google Analytics, Jeremy.

Jeremy: I think the answer would be to adopt GA or GA360, though I’d like to give them an opportunity to be on the paid product which will obviously provide better access. We’re focusing on a lot of the more advanced features — posts, cookie deprecation — in our licensed products. In terms of access to features within the sandbox, those are still being determined. We will push that out through our partners primarily, so working with DELVE is important. 

Emma; I think that is really important here at DELVE. And, as Betsy mentioned, we’re really pushing our partners and our clients to get ahead and understand what the opportunities are and how can they prepare.  

One last question: As cookies go away, how does this impact conversion and ad words? Do we expect convergence to degrade? So, I’ll ask the group — Betsy, Jeremy, you may be the best to answer. I mentioned earlier that there is a tremendous amount of modeling already because of a lack of data…

Jeremy: I will say very confidently that Google is engineered to understand modeling, ML, and other capabilities. (We are able)  to understand from a small piece of data about how to extrapolate — how that works and be able to do conversion modeling appropriately.

One of the most basic things you can do is be on GA (which) allows for much better conversion modeling within a Google Ads infrastructure. It is a foundational thing we’re focusing on — using GA or other Google tag solutions. But we particularly believe in GA (which enables us to) get good resolution on the value of Google Ad Spent. It’s a simple thing to do and it provides tremendous benefit…It opens up a lot of doors and there’s a huge commitment within the company to really improve our conversion capabilities in the model.

Emma: Well, thank you so much for coming. Really appreciate it.

Check out the following articles to learn more about Google Analytics 360 and how it can improve marketing insights.

Want to fast-track your first-party data strategy and drive real ROAS gains programmatic advertising? Get in touch with the DELVE team today.

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