Why Criteo wants marketers to link data collection and privacy

Too many marketers still haven’t prepared for the loss of cookies and need to enable their first-party data in advertising so they don’t get confused, says Todd Parsons, global chief product officer at Criteo.

The senior manager met CMO on a recent trip to Australia to discuss the state of data in advertising and how brands need to strengthen their partnerships with technology and media partners if they are to handle the end of third-party cookies.

“A great way to think about it is this: if third-party cookies go away as expected, the links between brand and media owner proprietary data become very valuable,” Parsons says.

Given the time it takes to build a first-party dataset and connect that dataset to media, it’s important that marketers and brands act now to achieve scale and advertising effectiveness. tomorrow, Parsons continues. And that also means developing a privacy strategy and narrative.

“Because privacy is also a growing concern for consumers and government, educating people about the value they might receive for sharing [or selling] informing them will become common practice,” he says.

Criteo wants to be at the forefront of this solution, even if marketers aren’t quite ready to act. “We will have done our job well if we seamlessly connect brands, retailers and media owners around first-party data so that the best customer experience is always delivered,” Parsons says.

The link between first-party data and privacy

Marketers, if they haven’t already, need to take a two-pronged approach to preparing for the expected demise of third-party cookies.

“If you don’t have a first-party data and privacy strategy in place, start doing it now,” Parsons says of the need for timely, dedicated, and specific action. Once this is in place, marketers need to develop an execution plan tailored to the company’s exposure to disappearing third-party signals.

“The industry is working day and night on alternatives that allow marketers and brands to advertise effectively while maintaining privacy,” Parsons comments.

Todd ParsonCredit: Criteo
Todd Parson

While first-party data is already an essential part of direct marketing strategies, it’s more common in customer and loyalty marketing. However, it will also play a vital role in each brand’s ability to acquire new customers, Parsons said.

But there’s still a long way to go, according to the company’s research. A 2021 Criteo survey found that a third of Australian businesses still rely on third-party cookies for their digital marketing. The adtech player thinks little has changed since then.

Bringing utility to consumers in their search for information about products and services, shopping with each other, and then buying with greater confidence underpins business media, a goal Criteo is firmly focused on.

“By focusing on this objective, it is easier to reduce the complexity of our industry, consolidate the functions of many point solutions and allow marketers, retailers and publishers to work together to increase this value”, says Parsons.

And as consumers become more aware of who and how they share their personal information, it opens up new opportunities for marketers, according to Diarmuid Gill, Criteo’s global chief technology officer.

“We’ve recently seen people become more aware and more deliberate about the choices they make about their data, deliberately considering who they share their data with and who they don’t,” he says. “In some ways, this is a great opportunity for brands, advertisers and retailers to make sure they educate users about the value exchange. Due to the growing trust between the parties, the relationships that exist are generally of better quality. It becomes a bigger and more powerful tool for advertisers and for the end user, because they feel they have more control.

“The more we can educate consumers about the value of sharing their data to improve their shopping experience, the more opportunities arise from the relationship.”

Looking ahead, Gill expects deeper personalization, especially in new digital environments, to be a must. As for adtech, “we’re going to see more innovation in this space in the coming years, particularly around how advertising interacts with end-user experience,” he says.

Gill gives the example of billboards at major sporting events such as the World Cup, which display different advertisements depending on where the consumer is looking from. “This leaves room for personalized advertising to be delivered to each viewer rather than a generic message,” he explains.

At the same time, advertising in the metaverse continues to grow, and augmented reality helps reach new customers with new experiences. In response, the Criteo AI Lab is working on innovation in computational advertising, with a team of researchers and engineers. It seeks to solve challenges such as how to process 250 billion requests per day, how to calculate a recommendation of 1 billion products and 1.5 billion users in less than 50 milliseconds.

The lab is also investigating how to make more accurate ad click predictions in milliseconds, digging deeper into bidding theory to optimize these processes and linking offline metrics to online performance.

“It will be exciting to see where this experimentation takes us,” adds Gill.

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