Why COVID-19 Makes Owning Your Data More Important Than Ever

Jason Wolfson data

Things tend to happen in threes and adtech is no exception. 1) Recent moves by Apple and Google to rid third party cookies have given DMPs a grim future. 2) The army of walled gardens are forcing advertisers to spend on-platform in order to gain any data or insights from those respective platforms. 3) COVID-19 flipped everything upside down, including advertising and ad spend. These three events, while large on their own, have collided and fast tracked advertisers to do something many have been trying to do for years – collect, store, and truly own their first-party data.

Adtech is moving toward a more direct relationship with consumers and focusing on first-party data, such as a consumer’s email captured at point of sale. Acquiring this data is a priority for brands, but they need it in a way that is platform agnostic and affords them the ability to use across all of digital.

The likes of Adobe, Salesforce and Oracle are rolling out CDPs (customer data platforms) to help marketers foster direct relationships with customers, but brands should highly consider a way to truly own their data. 

Here’s three reasons why: 


Avoid third-party data leakage

We’ve seen this movie before – brands cultivate huge, painstakingly laborious deals with external DMPs, and technology advancements or legislation force them to quickly pivot. As they offboard from a DMP, there will be inevitable data leakage, no matter what their partner says. Brands must then find a quick yet safe way to bring back any data they have stored with a vendor and that comes with great risk. So why not try something new?

Whether it be building something or going the M&A route, there are simpler, quicker, and frankly cheaper ways to own your data while not losing any of it. Amazon had an ad server and DCO deficiency, so they acquired Sizmek. Sure, Amazon has a ton of liquid to gobble another adtech company, but there are options that brands can seek to give them the tech internally to own their data. 


Other marketers are already doing this

There’s been a renewed emphasis with marketers on first-party segmentation, but these three events are putting that emphasis into hyper drive. Why? Twofold – 1) those first-party segments will be compliant with all of the new rules and 2) these segments can be used for owned marketing channels too. Those pesky walled gardens are forcing brands to spend their money on-platform to access their own audiences, and that’s b.s. 

There is some work to be done. Brands will need the tech stack in place to build the segment themselves and tools to pinpoint activation cues that aren’t cookie-based. Some of the more shrewd and tech savvy brands already have the wheels in motion to do this. If you’re not one of them, we suggest you get a move on.


COVID-19 is forcing every marketer to do more with less

COVID-19 has rocked us all in a variety of personal and professional ways. This global pandemic has forced brands to slash marketing budgets, and the ones doing well don’t need to spend (see Peloton). We’re a little distracted right now, but brands and marketers shouldn’t drop the ball when it comes to owning their data.

Most brands rely on third-party targeting and retargeting, so change that fast. Contextual advertising is coming back in style like 90s style overalls, so owning your data will help enrich the behavioral targeting applied to your campaigns. 

Another point worth noting here is that many marketers have been reliant on cookie-based measurement. (i.e. campaign optimization, post-view conversions, and multi-touch attribution). Given that those methods will be extinct soon, the wise brands and marketers will restart those internal conversations and test new measurement practices using the first-party data that is now owned by the brand.


Like the three massive events that recently rocked advertising, there are many unknowns about what a cookieless world will look like. Which means to prioritize ways to own your own data. There’s far too much at stake to push this project off, and even more to gain to those who take their first-party data back.


To find ways to own your first party data, hit us up.