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By Carolyn Corda, CMO at data co-op ADARA

Banking and financial services brands need to stay close to their customers. But this isn’t always easy in our fragmented media landscape. The explosion of digital technologies and the omnipresence of smartphones means that for brands, the days in which you could promote your brand or service simply by placing adverts on TV, on radio and in print are long gone.

To effectively reach consumers, marketers need to develop communications which reach consumers with the right message at the right time, whatever device they are using. For the last 25 years, third-party cookies have allowed marketers to do just this, acting as the glue which brings the fragmented landscape together into a clear picture.

However, this is all now set to change. Growing concerns over the impact of third-party cookies on user privacy have led to increased crackdowns on their use. Apple launched its Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) in 2017, Firefox launched its Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) in September 2019 and Google announced it will phase out cookies on its Chrome browser by 2022 earlier this year.

How will marketing change?

The death of the 3rd party cookie represents a landmark moment in digital media history. For financial brands and marketers who rely on third-party cookie data to fuel marketing activity, the future has never looked so uncertain.

Third party-cookies have allowed marketers to measure engagement, provide attribution and deliver personalisation to consumers in their marketing communications. From 2022, cookies will not be able to deliver these qualities. Take personalisation as an example: with data limited to walled gardens and first-party information such as purchases, name and location – how can financial brands deliver the deeply personalised and timely communications that consumers have come to expect? How can a brand know it is reaching consumers with the right relevant offer or information?

However, if banks and financial institutions start preparing now, the death of the cookie does not have to spell the end of highly targeted marketing and advertising.

Building transparency

Google has set a date of 2022 for the third party cookie’s final execution – meaning our industry has two years to prepare for a cookie-less future.

An exciting alternative for finance marketers is the emergence of data co-ops. Based on data integrity and accuracy, data co-ops like ADARA provide financial marketers with the ability to personalise marketing messages while maintaining high levels of transparency – which is naturally crucial for regulated industries.

The best way to deal with issues around privacy is to operate with complete clarity and transparency – and an effective way to do this is to leverage ethically sourced consumer data – like what is found in a data co-op. Data co-ops ensure transparency as partners are only allowed to enter into the cooperative if they adhere to a number of rules, ensuring that consumers know their data is shared for marketing purposes.

Using that data to build identities

But data alone isn’t enough. As discussed earlier – the media landscape is fragmented. What marketers really need is the relationships between points of data across touchpoints. These relationships paint a valuable picture of the consumer that marketers can use to target them effectively. Understanding that these relationships hold the key is fundamental in moving from a cookie-based marketing strategy, to an identity-driven one.

Building profiles – or verified identities – takes a series of data points and layers them on top of first-party data. Data coops are able to then link these back to a single person’s profile – using persistent identifiers (such as email addresses) to ensure that there are groups of real people whose profiles we understand well. At ADARA we call this the identity graph, and it allows us to use both digital and offline channels to reach relevant customers. Our 600 million-strong identity graph of customers, built from first-party data from over 270 partners, means we can produce 5,000 distinct segments. From this, financial clients are able to mix and match the data sets they need for their target customer group.

For instance, if we know via real estate data that an individual is purchasing a home, a finance brand could look to tailor communications and offers to the costs associated with this. For investment and wealth management services, it could be an indicator of a key life change, often a key time to attract new customers with long-term investment plans. Or, if traveller data shows an individual flies often and shops abroad, promoting a card that  waives foreign transaction fees could push that marketing message from relevant to compelling.

By leveraging data-coops, marketers can understand customers and target them effectively while upholding the absolute highest standard in terms of data ethics and enshrining the privacy of the customer at the heart of the process. We have two years to prepare for the death of the cookie. But for financial services brands who want to preserve their ability to deliver highly targeted, highly relevant communications to consumers, the time for action is now.

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