Age of consent, Havas Media’s David Do Rosario

Havas Media’s head of digital specialties, David Do Rosario looks at how to create a sustainable and efficient digital marketing approach in a cookie-less world.

The foundational pillar of the digital ecosystem for the past 20 years, the cookie is about to crumble and is coming to the end of its reign. After several years of pressure, the advertising and digital market of today is facing constraints on three fronts:

1. Legal & regulatory: Constraints resulting from the behavioural and technological changes with the new requirements for explicit consent collection, particularly in Europe.

2. Behavioural: Users are becoming more aware and sensitive about the usage of their personal data protection. This has been further enhanced recently by Apple’s marketing campaign around iOS14, but more so due to the latest WhatsApp privacy update.

3. Technological: Browsers like Safari, Firefox, iOS14, and soon Chrome, will be blocking cookies (and other tracers).

Cookies come in two forms, first-party and third-party. The objective of a first-party cookie is to make it possible to track and remember a user’s preferences. They’re essential in providing an efficient and pleasant user experience when visiting the website.

Third party cookies are created by an entity other than the host domain and can provide advertisers with a wealth of valuable user information. These include demographics, geographic information and preferences that are then used to design more targeted advertising campaigns. Compared with the first party cookie, however, they are viewed by many as an invasion of privacy, despite having become a significant foundational pillar of digital advertising strategies for the last 20 years. The cookie typology allowed partners and platforms to better understand consumer behaviour and be able to measure the efficiency of their marketing investment.

The end of the third-party cookie will likely have three major impacts:

1. The end of cookie synchronisations between demand-side platforms (DSPs) and data-management platforms (DMPs), no longer aiding advertisers to reach their target audiences.

2. Customer relationship management (CRM) onboarding based on third-party cookies will have to find a suitable solution.

3. Targeting/retargeting tools will no longer have the ability to set a third-party cookie. Advertisers will have to review their targeting strategy as it will be harder to cater bespoke ads based on users’ behaviour.

So how do we ensure brands remain unaffected and efficiently carry out their digital marketing campaigns? The first step for consent collection via automated management is through the deployment of a consent management platform (CMP) for websites and mobile applications. The CMP informs the user about trackers used on the websites and mobile applications and requests for user consent.

For proper implementation, the digital, IT and legal teams must diagnose the tracers used and define the rules of good compliance. The different types of tracers must be categorised by purpose, whether analytics, advertising, social, etc. Each purpose must constitute a request for consent in itself. Finally, the CMP runs a technical test to ensure that the collection respects end-to-end consent.

The design of the first contact with the user, whether banner or pop-in, will be your best ally. It will allow you to reach 60-70 per cent consent on average when the format is optimised. Running A/B testing on the placement format is also highly recommended.

Finally, mobile apps are a key priority, particularly in the GCC. In the UAE, an average of 40 hours per week is spent on a smartphone. Deploying the same CMP on websites and applications will facilitate data collection consent on all media platforms.

The clock is ticking, and advertisers have probably put some of these recommendations in place already. A major question remains, though. After compliance, how can we guarantee the performance of digital campaigns?

Several initiatives are emerging in providing marketers with optimal solutions: Facebook Conversion API, Google Consent Mode, Privacy Sandbox (FLoC, for Federated Learning of Cohorts), App SDK Network, and many more. It is necessary, however, to analyse which ones require consent and which can be dispensed with.

Earlier this year, Google launched a series of tests in Europe for FLoC, a new targeting solution based on cohort marketing, but immediately put it on hold to take a closer look at the impacts of privacy in this area. With strong technological constraints, the main risk is losing track of real performance measurements of the advertiser’s digital activities.

From mass marketing, we went from personalised to ultra-personalised marketing. With the sophistication of technological tools, and the increase in privacy concerns over the past five years, the future of data will be articulated in three complementary approaches:

1. Consented marketing or targeting with rich and secure data, based on individual data collected with strict consent.

2. Cohort of model marketing, bringing together similar groups of internet users.

3. Renaissance of so-called contextual marketing, making it possible to rely on the relevance of the context or content according to the affinities with our target, which is a big comeback for media planning.