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"Un-Platform" Your Tech Stack

by: Avanti Gade
Blog Balancing Privacy

The value of current technology platforms is decreasing

The race for audience technology platforms was fierce for the past few years. Advertising and marketing ad stacks extensively sought out Data Management Platforms (DMPs) and Consumer Data Platforms (CDPs) among other investments.

Sizable investments were made in data warehouses and modeling audience segments. Distinct strategies and channels for known versus unknown users allowed these platforms to play their roles and keep the course.

Almost every brand or major publisher needed to demonstrate the value of their audience. From contextual targeting, the industry shifted to audience-based targeting that required the scaled usage of these platforms.

But now, with so many changes occurring concurrently and in the near future, businesses must re-consider platform investments.

We are in a time of incredible flux. Covid-19 has changed many of our behaviors and interactions with brands.

But that is only a part of the tidal wave of challenges ahead. We also need to consider cookies, data clean rooms, clouds, and cohorts.

Cookies, clean rooms, clouds, and cohorts

To exacerbate the current situation are the looming challenges of cookies, clean rooms, clouds and cohorts:

Cookies are getting phased out

Succumbing to their demise, these convenient identifiers phase out of their existence on Chrome in early 2022, which removes the normal mode of operations for audience targeting, measurement, optimization and attribution. Safari and Firefox have already made these updates.

Visibility is gradually reducing and change is inevitable. Given the massive implications, you cannot afford to wait it out until the last minute before you adapt to these changes. With each day, you are losing ground.

Data clean rooms are on the rise

As cookies phase out, sharing data becomes more crucial. Businesses need an easy, privacy-safe way to share data, whether between advertisers and publishers or between two publishers or with retailers/channel partners.

Fragmentation is everywhere, and the only way to get your hands on high fidelity data is to strike up data share agreements, and to leverage a data clean room to enable the partnership.

Most platform technologies cannot deliver on the infrastructure requirements of setting up and operating data clean rooms. And, because third party data has been so readily available, many companies have yet to develop this muscle.

Walled garden clouds are difficult to access

The new measurement normal shall be the brand’s ability to operate across the cloud environments of the walled garden platforms and their own first party data investment infrastructure.

Google Cloud Platform (GCP) provides access to ad server log data, Facebook Advanced Analytics offers use cases utilizing Facebook’s cohort level data, Amazon Marketing Cloud (AWS) enables media performance against sales on Amazon.

The outcome is an IT-led, query-based effort to access data in the cloud that isn’t business friendly.

"Succumbing to their demise, these convenient identifiers phase-out of their existence on Chrome in early 2022, which removes the normal mode of operations for audience targeting, measurement, optimization, and attribution. Safari and Firefox have already made these updates."

Connecting with Cohorts Is the Future

Privacy requirements and tight walled garden controls means that you analyze and extract cohort level data.

Traditional one-to-one marketing gives way to cohort level marketing where you need to create micro-cohorts of your audiences and push into the often "one-way highways" of walled garden investment. This is the majority of media investment these days.

As you sift through these disparate sources of information, only through consistent efforts and accessing the various cloud environments and clean rooms can you arrive at a cross-channel outlook of your marketing performance.

You need a system to reach into all these places as seamlessly and as nimbly as possible.

Are DMPs and CPDs the answer? Not quite. They can access smaller and smaller fractions of the digital advertising/marketing ecosystem. These technologies do not have the capabilities to bend and flex to these new market changes.

It is time to "un-platform" your approach to data management and measurement. Here's how.

Future-Proof Tech Stack Capabilities

To adapt to the changes in the ecosystem and the uncertain times, you must invest in a flexible system that is a collection of capabilities rather than a packaged solution that you license in its entirety. In keeping with the trends, let this solution have these three major capabilities:

1. Distributed Data Management

Data shall increasingly be housed in a distributed system belonging to the brand, marketing channels, sales partners, and additional participants.

Each system will have its privacy controls and contractual obligations.

Data management needs to transcend these data islands and yet maintain required boundaries.

To do so, you need data clean room environments and user identity resolution. You no longer need to think of your known and unknown users being tackled in different platforms, each platform being central to the workflow, because that route has limitations.

Find a solution that deals with distributed data in a privacy-centric way.

2. Traveling, Business-First Technology

For distributed data, you need a solution that travels. You need a solution that has long-reaching arms and legs to go to the various systems that are housing distributed data and to run analysis.

The trend dictates that various cloud technologies and data clean rooms will give rise to an over-reliance on IT to unify and query datasets to access and make sense of the data.

However, the end users of this insight are marketing, monetization, business analysts, and the executive teams supporting these departments.

So your solution needs to be end-user friendly and hence business-friendly. It cannot sustain itself if there is an over-reliance on IT.

Pure infrastructure solutions will tackle the partial problem; find a solution that delivers the infrastructure and the intelligence.

3. Light on Its Feet and Light on Deployment

The appetite for long implementation timelines and extensive deployments has waned. The industry suffers from platform fatigue as the requirements quickly outgrow the platform.

An ideal solution will deliver value in a phased manner and toggle on/off its capabilities. That also speaks to that solutions’ ability to be flexible, grow, and adapt to the changes. You shouldn’t have to pay for things you don’t need and that are not relevant to your business.

Take the Next Step Toward Data Clean Room Software

Contemplate these things when you evaluate your current and future technology investments:

  • Consider what you need for the future, how data will be accessed, and what platform use cases become irrelevant with upcoming changes.
  • Find solutions that are architected in a way to be flexible and innovative.
  • Hedge your bets on innovative solutions meant to tackle these challenges without the rigidity of platform lock-ins, long deployments, or reducing scope.

Evaluating data clean room software solutions? Use this downloadable checklist.