Shares in ad-tech behemoth Criteo hit a 12-month low this week on the back of Google’s announcement to phase out third-party cookie tracking — which currently fuels much of the digital advertising ecosystem.
Criteo’s stock price has struggled for the past two years as browsers have introduced more stringent data collection rules, and tightened global privacy legislation has loomed over the digital advertising landscape.
Criteo is a world-leading retargeting agency, that serves digital ads to users who browsed a website but failed to convert. Traditionally these banner ads have been populated through cookies that track users’ activity on a website and allows for retargeting.
The combative timeline set out by Google to completely curtail third-party cookie tracking within two years has already been actioned by Mozilla and is likely to be emulated by Firefox and Safari. Marketers that have relied on third-party data to drive their advertising will need to find a new, compliant solution if they want to connect with privacy-conscious digital consumers.
The zero-party data solution
In a world where third-party data is at best unreliable, and at worst illegal, first- and zero-party data is king. And Criteo is already responding to this paradigm shift by diversifying its services as well as pivoting to opted-in data collection to power some of its personalization initiatives.
If businesses like Criteo want to thrive in the new era of privacy it’s imperative they shift to a zero-party data strategy. Zero-party data is a class of preference data collected directly from consumers and not by using tracking pixels, cookies or cross-device identification. Imperatively, zero-party data is accurate information and never inferred.
“Zero-party data is that which a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize her.” - Fatemah Khatibloo, Principal Analyst, Forrester
Marketers can collect it by connecting directly with consumers and gathering the data, insights, and permissions they need to power advertising that clicks. Quite simply, it’s self-reported data like purchase intentions and preference insights to improve personalization and help build up a picture of the consumer. As it comes directly and willingly from the consumer, there are no intermediaries and no guesswork.
Collecting zero-party data at scale
It is possible for advertisers to know what their prospects intend to purchase in the future without the need for surreptitiously snooping on their search history.
The key is making ad units interactive, rather than shouty, flashy interruptions that chase users around the web. Marketers can incorporate interactive experiences into ads that encourage engagement and offer a value exchange for first- and zero-party data.
Collecting psychographic data points like purchase intentions, motivations, and preferences at scale allows for truly personalized advertising. And by leveraging the right mechanics, and offering a value exchange, your customers will tell you what products they desire, what they look for in a service, and what motivates them to purchase.
Criteo’s core offering and many others in the space continue to over-rely on third-party cookies to drive its product offering, diametrically opposed to the privacy-focused laws and strategies we’re seeing being implemented by territories and behemoth organizations the world over.
As consumers choose clicks over bricks and the trajectory of eCommerce continues to grow, for brands espoused to third-party data the financial impact is clear. If marketers want to build lasting relationships with consumers and survive the cookiepocolypse it’s time to move away from third-party data and shift to a strategy rooted in zero-party data.
Richard Jones is the CMO at Cheetah Digital, where he oversees a global team that is responsible for all aspects of the brand, demand generation, digital marketing, corporate communications, and sales development. With more than 20 years of marketing, sales and strategy experience, Jones was previously the CEO of Wayin, a global leader in zero-party data collection and activation. There, he helped many of the world’s leading brands such as Daily Mail Group, NHL, Bauer Media, Vodafone, Priceline.com, Reckitt Benckiser, Air New Zealand, and Manchester City FC create zero-party data strategies.