Why the walled garden strategy must change

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It is universally understood that data plays a crucial role in the overall success of a company’s marketing initiatives and sales goals. This raises the question: Why do we play by the rules of giant media conglomerates that are unwilling to give advertisers and publishers access and control of their own customer data?

The time has come to disrupt the status quo of walled gardens and truly lean into empowering consumers to take ownership of their identity, providing real tools for data governance, and enabling partnerships that redefine advertiser and publisher engagement with consumers. tech giants.

The give and take of the walled gardens

With 87% of consumers starting their buy travel online, establishing a digital presence remains a critical mission for modern marketers. When was the last time you trusted a consumer business with no website, Yelp! page or presence on social networks? (Author’s note: Your favorite speakeasy or neighborhood watering hole gets a pass here.)

Up to this point last year, Google, Facebook and Amazon accounted for about 64% of US digital ad spending. This dominant market share is indicative of its tremendous inventory of first-party user data. It’s not hard to understand why these giants have successfully maintained their authority over the past few years. While there are benefits to using these platforms, there are significant trade-offs from the consumer, advertiser, and publisher standpoints.


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Since these closed platforms own their audiences and take control of the data uploaded to their system, advertisers and publishers do not receive the benefits of the valuable two-way flow of information and consumers suffer. Without feedback data and the ability to pass data, it can be incredibly difficult to measure the effectiveness of your campaign and understand if you’re reaching the right people at the right time for the right costs.

Demand for more personalized marketing

These restrictions may negatively alter the customer experience. When data transfer between platforms is prevented, tracking customer journeys becomes nearly impossible. This means that knowing exactly who your customer is, what to say to them, and how to respect both their privacy and purchasing preferences has become increasingly difficult, all while the consumer is looking forward to it more than ever.

In addition to consumer demand for more personalized marketing, we are now at the forefront of increased expectations for privacy and transparency. at cisco 2022 Consumer Privacy Survey81% of respondents agreed that the way organizations treat customer personal data indicates how they view and respect consumer privacy.

As digital technologies and the Internet of Things (IoT) evolve, consumers are becoming more aware of the ways their personal data is used and less comfortable with monetizing their data without their active participation. Consumers understand that there is no free lunch, but this is not the same as assuming that you own the rights to their identity data and preferences because you told them so in your fine print (which they probably didn’t read).

A walled garden by any other name: Apple Hide My Email

Apple’s “Hide My Email” feature is a great demonstration of the complicated relationship between advertisers, publishers, and consumers. According to Apple, this feature allows users to “create unique and random email addresses to use with apps, websites, and more, so your personal email can stay private” (meaning it’s only shared with Apple).

Ultimately, the user is establishing an even deeper relationship with Apple and not with the brand they intend to interact with. A win for Apple (well played) and, at first, what may seem like a win for the consumer. Yet the consumer is now unknowingly complicit in giving Apple control of the pipelines and data while believing the real value proposition here is to protect their inbox.

The implications for marketers are obvious. Sending relevant and targeted emails based on a user’s behavior is no longer an option with fake email addresses. Furthermore, it blocks the ability to build a consistent profile on the user. This makes it difficult to tap into new leads and nurture relationships with potential customers.

While consumers may believe that a feature like “Hide My Email” is Apple taking the initiative to protect user privacy, it’s important to take a step back and think about who is really benefiting from this idea. To be clear, it’s not that this feature is a scam; is that this feature favors Apple more than the consumer and actually causes harm to the company(s) the consumer wishes to engage with.

Trim hedges to save gardens

While gatekeepers like Google, Apple, and Facebook have convinced us to get used to closed, centralized ecosystems, it’s not unreasonable to imagine a future where this isn’t the case. The likes of CompuServe, AOL, MySpace, and Friendster, for example, all had first- or second-mover advantages, mass adoption, and successfully established large closed systems. But where are they today? When someone tells you that their email address is xxx@aol.com, what is your first reaction?

Today’s headlines should study their short-term history books (or Wikipedia), and perhaps instead of redoubling efforts on bigger walls, look for partners to win for the next generation of technology and meet the expectations of the grassroots. today’s multigenerational users.

Instead of tolerating the status quo, we can start metaphorically by clipping the hedges and empowering consumers (yes, that’s us) to vote with our personal data and wallets.

The following are some strategic strategies that gardeners should consider when planning for seasonal pruning.

A Better Connector: Universal IDs

Universal ID solutions create a unique identifier assigned to users that allows information to be passed to approved partners within the advertising ecosystem. Countless pieces of data, such as lifestyle preferences, interests, and even propensities to make a purchase, come together to create an image that defines a true and holistic consumer identity. Using this information allows advertisers to deliver relevant ads to individual users while giving those users greater control and privacy.

This is a newer and still emerging sector with several disparate solutions. We are in the early days of both determining which Universal ID solutions will gain broad and shared adoption for interoperability, and how the various walled gardens will or will not play by their own rules.

Consumers in control

Taking it one step further, what if we lived in a world where consumers had more of a say in the type of marketing they see? What if users could actively opt out of personalized advertising preferences?

Imagine walking into a browser like Chrome or Safari, asking you to agree or opt-out of a disclosure about how your data is used while actively telling marketers the type of ads you want to see, or even better, the types. of products or services. you are currently in the market for.

We are already seeing similar concepts demonstrated by organizations like Global Privacy Control (GPC)which is designed to allow Internet users to notify companies of their privacy preferences, such as whether or not they want their personal information to be sold or shared.

Bottom line

The first step toward this progressive future of the open Internet begins with difficult but critical conversations about data sharing, transparent consent, and consumer controls. The most logical brands to start that conversation would be key players like Facebook, Google or Apple, but don’t hold your breath waiting for them.

These companies are actively waging wars on many fronts with US and foreign regulators, a decline in consumer loyalty, and an increase in class action lawsuits. Meanwhile, publisher and advertiser revenue retention and value exchange are suffering due to unnecessary extra costs, less transparency, and ultimately, confused and frustrated consumers.

Is it crazy to think that only one of these companies could flip the script on the old walled garden narrative and actually outperform the competition by repositioning itself as the new gold standard for respecting consumers, our rights to our data and do it better with your partners and customers, publishers and advertisers?

At the risk of dating myself and beating this analogy to death, I still remember when it was cool to have an @aol.com email id. Perhaps a new America Online 3.0 is the garden without walls we seek to save us from this downward spiral.

Rob Rokoff is Senior Vice President of Corporate Development at Verisk Marketing Solutions.


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