Over the last few days, we’ve received hundreds of emails and calls from clients, partners, and members of the ecosystem at large. In the wake of Facebook’s decision to discontinue their Partner Categories program, almost everyone in the industry is wondering what they should do.
Here are our thoughts for advertisers:
1. Defend your ability to create your own standard data models and apply them across all touchpoints. There are big advantages to starting with your own CRM data, enhancing with ethically sourced data from reputable providers, and working with publishers that give you the ability to use data you control. For most companies, your own data is one of your most valuable and strategic assets – and you should never share it with anyone that has inherent conflicts of interest or does not meet your standard for data governance.
Nor should you put all your faith in only a single type of data, particularly with less reliable social inputs. The best models and experiences draw from multiple ethical data sources. And lastly, you shouldn’t have to spend hours developing different segmentation strategies for every walled garden. Instead, demand the ability to use your own data across all activation points, and be willing to vouch for the quality and ethical nature of this data.
2. Demand standard integrations that give you the ability to protect your data. Let’s face it, proprietary black box systems aren’t good for anyone – particularly if there are concerns your valuable data might not be well protected or misappropriated. Custom processes for importing data also impose an operational tax that adds additional steps to an ecosystem that is already far too complex. And marketers should be able to plan and optimize their campaigns on an apples-to-apples basis to ensure best results. Walled gardens can and have made errors when it comes to representing reach, viewability, and other metrics.
Rather than place blind trust in the self-serving biases of anyone’s black box, demand support for secure integrations offered through LiveRamp and others that allow you to control what data you send and how it’s used. If you don’t take control over how data is ingested by partners, ensure that a privacy-compliant match process is performed in a safe haven by a neutral third party, and maintain a view across all your activation points – you lose control of your consumer experiences and harm the performance of your investments. An industry monopoly is only good for one company, and it’s not you.
3. Don’t panic! It’s easy to overreact to all the noise. Don’t. Over time, markets have a way of finding the most sensible and economic solutions. Take the example of AOL from twenty years ago – a story that seems prescient to much of today’s swirl. Long before some of today’s tech giants were even launched, AOL once required advertisers to build custom campaigns unique for their walled garden. As advertisers expressed their displeasure to AOL and even threatened to slow spend, the company wisely decided to embrace industry standards and greater transparency. Together, we can achieve change for good and a level playing field for all.
Now more than ever, advertisers need to exert their voice. Money is powerful, and advertisers should remember that they are the real decision makers. You vote with your marketing budgets every day, and your votes determine which policies change and which endure. Use your voice to demand support for data you can use everywhere and integrations that allow you to protect the data that’s in your care.
And trust that common sense will ultimately prevail. We’ve seen some signs that Facebook is reconsidering the initial policy they issued last week on data imports in light of advertiser concerns that will have an economic impact. There are many talented and smart people at Facebook. And if they take action on this feedback, it would be a smart move for them and good news for the industry.