Brands are increasingly innovating to assuage the effect the demise of third-party cookies will have on their advertising and commercial activities, according to OMD’s Femi Taiwo.
He believes most major brands have a “plan of sorts”, with many using the early months of the Coronavirus pandemic “as a window of opportunity to get their houses in order”. Meanwhile, publishers have a chance to redefine their data offerings and advertiser relationships for the better.
Femi – Data and Technology Strategy Director at OMD EMEA – was speaking at a virtual Q&A event with Morika Georgieva, Senior Customer Success Manager at Permutive to discuss the challenges and opportunities ahead for advertisers, agencies and publishers. As part of the discussion, Femi explored how brands were creating first party commercial strategies, and what agencies and advertisers want from today’s publisher.
Investing in direct relationships
“For many brands we are starting to see a grounding of the user in some sort of real world action,” comments Femi. Verticals such as fast-moving consumer goods (FMCGs) that are generally stocked in stores and supermarkets who hold the customer relationship have traditionally lagged in terms of collecting first party data and building direct relationships are now investing.
For instance, OMD client Pepsico launched US direct-to-consumer transactional sites Snacks.com and Pantryshop.com to cater for increased eating ‘at home’ demand – just weeks after first conceiving the idea.
“We can actually reach [the consumer] without having to buy data upfront.” Such first party initiatives have grown in relevance to brands, but COVID-19 has acted as a catalyst for action, he believes.
Take the risk or face the consequences
“It’s been important to brands, but they’ve never had the opportunity to invest so much money on something that might fail. Whereas now, you’re in a situation where all the things we relied on before are going to go very quickly. So, if you don’t risk it, then the idea that you may not have a business sometime very soon is a lot more real.”
“They [CMOs] have now been given a very, very unique opportunity where they can say, very clearly, that they have to take the risk or face the consequences.”
Asked if brands had to offer incentives or discounts in order to create DTC relationships, Femi explains it’s “more of a philosophical question than a maths or strategy one” and depended on the strength of the brand. If you have a strong enough brand from an advertising perspective, there is no reason why you cannot shortcut the middleman.
“The benefit of having a Tesco, Sainsbury’s or any other supermarket is that you’re in a position where you’re leveraging the footfall and everything else you have to offer as part of weekly shopping. Now, if you have a very strong brand, like for example, Ben and Jerry’s, they have a B2C offering and it makes sense to put advertising money behind that.”
He cautions, however: “It’s not so simple as a discount will draw them in. If you don’t have a strong brand, you will eventually run a bad business.”
How online publishers can shift mindsets for commercial success
Femi sees an evolving role for online publishers to help brands understand profile data. “The role for publishers really is to look at how you see your audiences,” he says. “It’s very typical for traditional publishers to have an audience that it has packaged based on research.
“Say, a lifestyle magazine for a brand that wants to reach kayakers, or a motoring publication for car-lovers. But if you want to attract brands you need to find a way to pivot to what they want to sell. You need to understand what Pepsi is trying to sell, what audience do they care about.”
Femi believes that publishers should focus on shifting mindsets in two ways: thinking more in terms of data products and in terms of sources of truth, which “every brand will have”.
On the data product side, he particularly stresses the importance of turnkey solutions – making it easier to plug in any advertiser into that solution.
“Obviously leveraging partners and adtech to help do that is important, particularly as publishers’ pockets may not be as deep as they once were, or certainly not as deep as brands’ pockets are.
“If you can map the source of truth to a turnkey style solution that lets you share analytics data in a privacy safe way, you’ve got your hands on a really interesting product and a proposition there. In effect, you’re having to trust two sources of truth, talk to each other, and verify each other in real-time and you build trust in a way that is going to be very difficult for anyone to break and for any brand to ignore.”
Relics of a bygone era
Measurements and metrics – and the understanding of them – would also have to evolve, he says, calling CPMs and CPCs as “relics of a bygone era”.
“We have much more sophisticated tech now than we have done in a very long time, so start thinking about brand metrics. And again, this goes back to the onus on publishers and their sales team to ask the questions.
“Ask your brand partnerships, what are your goals, your metrics, your audiences? Let’s see if we can find them for you. I think it will build a much better symbiotic relationship, and also allow publishers to make sure that they can repackage as many voices as possible for as many advertisers as possible.”