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20 days into 2021. What's the industry chat?

We’re 20 days into 2021 and already there’s LOTS going on in industry land.


It’s refreshing to see so many of you sharing articles, writing thought-leadership pieces and exchanging ideas, many of which are resonating with the team at LEAD.


To kick-start the year, I’ve listed the top three things people are talking to us about so far in 2021:


1. What should we be doing to prepare for cookieless tracking?

Although it feels like we’ve been talking about this for a long, long time, the industry really is going through a seismic shift when it comes to tracking.


Already in 2021 the government announced they are investigating Google’s plans to remove 3rd party tracking, YouTube has stopped accepting 3rd party pixels and brands are scrambling to get their 1st party data in order. Who knows what will happen in the next 20 days!


There’s not one way to prepare for cookieless tracking, but if you’re an advertiser who spends the majority of your budget on Facebook and Google (which statistically most of you reading this will be) you will have different challenges to those who have a more diversified set of advertising partners.


Facebook and Google regularly post their tracking project updates and advice on how advertisers should be approaching tracking. Keep an eye on these updates, follow their advice, and you’re going to have ample time to prepare for what may come.


If you’re an advertiser with a long-tail list of partners, you’re going to need to think carefully about whether a strategy that is so reliant on cross-site 3rd party cookie tracking is sustainable for you moving forward. If your long-tail partner’s cookieless strategy sounds too good to be true, is filled with complex jargon and/or is in denial, then it’s probably time to part ways.


2. How can we give our customers more control over their data, while still marketing to them?

One of many things we learned from 2020 is that people are spending more time online and becoming more digitally literate, resulting in heightened awareness and growing concern over their data privacy. We always knew this day was coming, but now it’s here what do you do?


Now that most advertisers are in a fairly good place with GDPR from a regulatory standpoint, the focus now needs to be on the human element. It’s easy to push this topic to the bottom of the list, as it may not seem business critical, but it’s a project that should be started immediately. Creating a business-wide strategy of data ethics, customer control and customer privacy is something requires a range of internal teams to input, and you’ll need to talk to your customers to get their thoughts too. This takes time.


Many big businesses have privacy strategies that you can view to get you started, but it’s important that any customer privacy decisions don’t negatively impact marketing performance or customer acquisition/retention. Incentivise customers for receiving marketing comms and sharing their data, and be open about how you want to use their data to give them better products or services. If you can’t explain your privacy approach to your partner/parent/child, you probably won’t be able to explain it to your customers. We love the video example from Channel 4, complete with a voiceover from Will from the InBetweeners, that's used to explain their marketing and customer data strategy.


3. If I need to cut my budget this year, where do I cut from?

There are many studies from previous recessions, pandemics and times of crisis that show the negative impact of cutting marketing spend and the positive impact of maintaining it. Most advertisers will be needing to cut budgets in some way or another this year, but where should you be cutting from?


Most digital operating models will have excess spending in areas that sit outside of advertising pounds/euros/dollars. Agency retainers/contracts can be renegotiated, overlapping/redundant technology platforms can be consolidated, creative production can be scaled down. These are all things that should be explored before axing advertising spend.


Having a paid-marketing brand presence, paid customer acquisition strategy and paid customer retention strategy is going to help your business survive the pandemic in the short, medium and long-term. Cutting advertising spending will stop this from happening, so first look elsewhere when you’re looking to trim your budgets this year – we guarantee you we can find a better part of your budget to cut than your ad spend!!


What are people talking to you about so far in 2021?