3 min.
Evolving your media practice in a privacy-centric marketing context
1L’art de la gestion de projet2Un projet à succès commence par une bonne gouvernance3Cascade, agilité, demandes de changement?

Evolving your media practice in a privacy-centric marketing context

Paid Media & SEM Measuring and optimizing initiatives

The implementation of the second phase of Bill 25 in Quebec on September 22, 2023, adding to the announced death of third-party cookies on Chrome in 2024, is an event that disrupts the foundations of digital marketing.

Governments worldwide, including the European Union in 2018 with GDPR, California in 2020 with CCPA, and now Quebec, are implementing legislation to regulate the collection and use of data, and by extension, personal data, to meet the needs of consumers increasingly concerned about the privacy of their data. These regulations lead to a significant decrease in information available for analysis and advertising targeting. However, they provide an opportunity to rethink media strategies and develop privacy-respecting approaches based on quality data.

The main impacts on media campaigns

Bill 25 in Quebec stipulates that any business operating in Quebec that collects, processes, or communicates digital data must integrate a privacy policy into its website by adding a new dedicated page that complies with Bill 25 and implement a consent banner on its site. The collection of personal data depends on the user's acceptance or refusal to share their data. Companies must list all cookies used on their website, explain their use, and allow users to disable unwanted cookies. Non-compliance has legal, financial, and reputational consequences for companies.

The implementation of user consent management (CMP) poses two major challenges: the reduction of the volume of collected data and the degradation of their accuracy, thus affecting:

  • The size and precision of third-party audiences available within platforms and media partners

  • The volume of first-party audiences available for retargeting, namely, site visitors and customer emails captured through implicit consent

  • The effectiveness of platforms that will have to deal with fewer detected conversions on the site to optimize campaigns 

  • The analysis of campaign performance relying only on a portion of conversions (thus leading to an increase in CPAs and a decrease in ROAS)

The collection or not of data necessary for media analysis and targeting depends on the user's acceptance or refusal to share their data. Regardless of the type of audience sharing, companies using retargeting tactics, audience inclusion or exclusion, and audience extension must obtain user consent before activating technologies and provide an explanation of how the captured data will be used in their privacy policy. Data collected before September 22, 2023, can still be used in accordance with the privacy policy in effect at the time of collection. Data collection after this date requires obtaining new consents.

How can one minimize the impacts on their media initiatives, once the proper user consent management is implemented on their digital properties?


Optimize consent rate

In the first place, if the consent rate on your banner is not meeting expectations and significantly impacting your visible performance and ability to reach your targets, implement a post-implementation action plan. Evaluate opt-in rates, opt-out rates, and the rates of users who have not made a choice to optimize the banner to convince them to accept cookies. Ensure that your banner is prominently displayed on your site and highlights the benefits for users in accepting cookies, particularly in terms of their overall brand experience. Indeed, the benefits can be numerous: improvement of site navigation quality, content personalization, and increased relevance of the ads presented.

Planning phase solutions

In parallel, take inventory of all the audiences used in your campaigns, assess the impact of the banner introduction on these pools, and readjust your media mix. Start by aggregating your 1st-party audiences to reach significant volumes and avoid saturation quickly. Continue to maximize the efficiency of your presence on search engines, which remains a highly effective acquisition channel. Then, transfer the budget from low-funnel to mid/top-funnel tactics. For example, you can build audiences of users who have interacted with advertising formats in anticipation of a peak buying period.

Focus more on the top of the funnel and emphasize initiatives that showcase your brand. Find creative and original ways to stand out from the competition. Tell authentic stories to touch emotional chords. Engage consumers with your brand, content, and encourage them to join your community. Influencer marketing and content marketing will continue to gain momentum in the coming years. These tactics allow a brand to communicate its mission, values, and concrete actions, explaining how it contributes to generating a positive impact in society to gain the trust and hearts of consumers.

You can also analyze customer journeys to identify opportunities to capture 1st and 0-party data and enhance future media initiatives. A well-orchestrated audience segmentation strategy, identifying high-value customers and understanding their behaviors, can be used to retain customers, attract similar customers, or even cross-sell. To do this, it's important to create a value exchange program so that they agree to be identified in exchange for useful content, access to discounts, or points, for example.

In recent years, access to a phenomenal amount of 3rd-party audiences has largely simplified media planning because it became easy to activate audiences at every stage of the conversion funnel. We are returning somewhat to the essence of our profession. Meticulous planning based on third-party data research is more necessary than ever to stand out and generate results. In-depth analysis of the market, competition, seasonality, and, most importantly, your targets, their behaviors, and media habits, will allow you to select the best channels, environments, and formats to reach them and activate them at the right time. In a cookie-less world, digital and offline contextual placements in perfect synergy are essential to reach your targets effectively.

Media partners are developing new targeting solutions for advertisers. Direct relationships between publishers and advertisers are evolving, thanks to the secure sharing of partner audiences and anonymized 1st and 0-party customer audiences within data clean rooms.

Optimization phase solutions

As the pixels on your site will trigger less frequently, the efficiency of your conversion-optimized campaigns could be affected. Some users will refuse consent, leading to a decrease in your conversion data and an increase in your cost per acquisition (CPA). Therefore, plan to closely monitor the performance of your campaigns to optimize them quickly and adjust budget allocations by tactic.

To mitigate the impact of potential data loss, ensure that you have implemented Google Consent Mode and advanced measurement solutions such as Google's Enhanced Conversion, Meta's Advanced Matching, and DV360's Enhanced Attribution. These platforms record site signals, such as conversions, and use increasingly powerful AI-driven modeling to ensure that optimizations and performance reports based on more limited data sets are robust. Implementing these solutions will also prepare you for the definitive end of third-party cookies in 2024.

Reporting phase solutions

However, the quality of advertising reporting, especially ROI measurement, will be impacted and will be even more pronounced with the disappearance of third-party cookies. It is becoming increasingly difficult to link a conversion to an advertising campaign, which should exacerbate the issue of marketing attribution. As a result, there is a return to proven statistical tools from the past, such as Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM), Regression Based Attribution (RBA), or Causal Impact. These performance measurement methods do not require access to very granular data and establish a connection between media investments and business results. To measure the impact of campaigns on the brand, it is possible to conduct online Brand Lift Studies with partners or third-party research firms, to complement more traditional pre- and post-campaign studies conducted by third-party research firms.

In the end, adapting to new data privacy regulations and the disappearance of third-party cookies will require a holistic approach that takes into account your business reality, combining technical, creative, and strategic efforts to maintain the effectiveness of your media initiatives while respecting consumer privacy.