Posted: 13 Apr. 2021 5 min. read

Optimising First-Party Data and Personalisation in Media

Those of us who have become glued to our screens during lockdown may welcome the fact that cookie consent banners are being phased out by next year. However, the demise of the cookie does create quite a conundrum for media organisations that rely on third-party data to personalise content and generate audience insight. Without cookies, how will they know what their viewers and readers really want?

This question is a core challenge for media companies as they seek to better understand the consumption preferences of their audiences, respond to their individual requirements and tailor the best customised experiences for them.

On the one hand, the task is getting easier; the amount of raw customer data available has risen dramatically in the last year as consumer demand for media has been accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Successive lockdowns have seen a huge surge in the consumption of news, television, video and music streaming. In fact, adults in the UK spent 40% of their time in front of screens at the height of the 2020 pandemic and are now watching twice as much streaming content as they did pre-pandemic.1 The data generated by this boom is valuable; but not all media companies have the capabilities to turn it into actionable insight.

This increase in audience demand creates an opportunity for media companies to gain real-time insights into their consumers and understand their preferences more than ever before. The advantages to this? Delivering highly engaging content to a growing customer base. Personalisation of content is at more of a premium than ever. At the same time, consumers are becoming much more comfortable with sharing their personal data. In 2020, just under a quarter of consumers expressed serious concerns about companies using their personal data, considerably down from nearly a half just two years earlier.2

Consent-based data sharing, in turn, is permitting greater use of hyper-personalisation techniques which analyse real-time data using behavioural science, machine learning and artificial intelligence capabilities to generate insights to meet and exceed customers’ needs.

Consumers increasingly expect more tailored personalised content, accessible any time, any place, any format. The winners in this industry will be those that satisfy their customers’ demands seamlessly, effortlessly and securely.

Third-party cookies

Third-party cookies have been a staple of digital marketing for more than quarter of a century. Google’s announcement that their support for third-party cookies will be phased out by next year will continue an industry trend that was already well-established with GDPR requirements for informed consent for marketing.3 It will make it harder for media organisations and advertisers to use their existing ad-tech to track and target users, and to sustain and build media revenues in the face of falling advertising revenues.

But, along with plot twists, all dramas have unexpected heroes, and, in this case, the heroes are first-party data and customer data platforms (CDP) on cloud.  

First-party data – collected directly from readers or viewers interacting with content online – is the good stuff, the best stuff. Quite simply the single most valuable data that can be collected about an audience, it offers opportunities to strengthen customer relationships. However, despite the quality of first-party data, it isn’t the whole picture. The data itself doesn’t make it easier to monetise content. As a consequence, the tools to understand audiences’ consumption patterns and building direct relationships with them, are becoming more important than ever.
 

The industry’s perspective4

We've applied the scientific method - data-driven and creative ways to develop reader relationships and testing on a daily basis. And a deep relationship with a million passionate readers allows us to develop innovative new products and services.
— The Guardian

In 2018 we needed to make clear choices - B2B or direct reader revenue. Short-term
was ads, long-term was subscribers. We made sizeable investments in technology and data ... The insights and data we gather on our customers help us to refine and develop our products and over time our offering has become more tailored and more sophisticated.
—The Telegraph

Our experience proves that a sustainable strategy isn't a binary choice between subs and ads... you can have your cake and eat it if you have deeper audience data, and as a result, an increasingly effective marketing proposition.
—The Financial Times
 

Leveraging a CDP on cloud

Meanwhile, a cloud-based customer data platform, or CDP, with its ability to record and track customer, viewer or reader behavior and capture a 360-degree view of user identities, is the game-changer in terms of customer experience, attraction, retention and engagement. After all, 51% of UK business leaders stated that shifting to a cloud computing business model saved their company from collapse during the pandemic.5 It’s not difficult to see why a CDP creates a unified consumer database, integrating data from multiple platforms to overcome the frustrations caused by siloed systems that get in the way of enjoying seamless interaction with the customer. By doing so, it allows a genuinely personalised and transparent relationship to be nurtured based on analytics and context.

Media companies can use a CDP to generate deeper and better insights into viewer and reader behaviour that weren’t possible before. Those insights can be applied to personalise content and experiences, improve engagement and drive revenue through increased subscriptions and enhanced advertising opportunities.

CDP goes beyond merely tracking unique visits or click-through rates and enables sophisticated combination of this behavioural data – captured with consent – with segment information such as content genre or user demographics. It permits effective insight generation into diverse, valuable and highly specific audience segments to serve market demand for these specialised groups.

By deploying the tools available on the cloud, like a CDP, along with leveraging first-party data, it is possible to enhance the user experience for customers while gaining their long-term trust and loyalty.
 

Not a one-size-fits all approach

Digital transformation is not a one-size-fits-all approach. The strategies adopted by media companies to activate audience data in pursuit of engagement and revenue will be as varied as their creative content. At their core, though, will be a common goal; translating a deep understanding of the individual reader or viewer into competitive advantage. The ability to understand how data underpins your business strategy, at all levels and across all divisions is more important now than ever.

After all, audiences want great content, better user experiences and to trust that their data is safe; and organisations want a clear understanding of audience interest and preferences. By exploiting the data-driven analytics and actionable insights that a cloud CDP can deliver, alongside trusted first-party data, both the user and media organisation win.

Get in touch to find out how Deloitte can transform your media business.

1 https://www.ofcom.org.uk/about-ofcom/latest/media/media-releases/2020/lockdown-leads-to-surge-in-tv-screen-time-and-streaming

2 https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/digital-consumer-trends-data-privacy.html

3 https://www.cnbc.com/2021/03/03/google-says-it-wont-track-you-directly-in-the-future-as-it-phases-out-cookies.html#:~:text=Google%20announced%20plans%20in%20January,Chrome%20browser%20within%20two%20years.&text=Google%20says%20this%20is%20about,on%20Chrome%20by%20third%20parties.

4 https://www.deloitte.co.uk/mediatelecomsbeyond/2020/

5 https://www2.deloitte.com/uk/en/pages/technology-media-and-telecommunications/articles/tmt-predictions.html


Key contacts

Nick Seeber is a Partner in the Risk Advisory service line focusing on the Media & Entertainment sector. He has 15 years’ experience working with global clients on projects around data, analytics, strategy and regulation. Specific areas of expertise include enterprise data strategy and data governance, master data management, data privacy, internet content regulation and digital services taxes (DSTs). 

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