The future of data in a cookieless world

While data is the key to delivering great customer experiences, the means of collecting data will evolve, LiveRamp MD international tells CMO

In a world of huge data growth, where data has been identified by some as the 'new oil', the most critical point for businesses is understanding the identity behind the data.

That's the view of Warren Jenson, chief financial officer, president and executive managing director of international, LiveRamp, who spoke with CMO about a time when cookies won’t rule supreme and are replaced by new forms of identity verification.

Jenson noted the integral role of cookies in allowing the Web to develop in the way it has over the last 25 years, since the mid-1990s.

“There is just an unprecedented level of information available for free. When you think of the whole world of free content, which was driven, in part, by cookies,” he noted.

Off the back of this, digital giants “built their businesses using cookies, the open Internet and the community of users,"Jenson said. "So cookies, at least in the near term, remain an important part of the ecosystem”.

Yet while data remains the key to delivering great customer experiences, the means of collecting data will evolve.

“Data is going to become much more important in the years ahead as advances in technology continue to occur. If you are a brand or a publisher of any size or scale, you have to have a data-driven strategy in order to deliver the sort of personalised experiences users have come to expect,” Jenson said.

Jenson was critical of aspects of privacy regulations like Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), in particular, obtaining permissions at scale, which are more easily done through large platforms. This can have the effect of favouring the walled gardens of large technology ecosystems, while creating additional challenges for smaller outfits in complying with the burden of privacy permissions.

“When you think about the large walled gardens, they have enormous reach. We use them every day and it's easy to just click on the permissions box. So the scale and reach of the walled gardens have an enormous advantage when you look at GDPR,” he commented.

“We work with the walled gardens every day, but, at the same time, we embrace the open internet and believe in a level playing field for brands for publishers, whether they're big or small."

Traditionally, identity has been defined through cookies. But questions are arising around how businesses will track behaviour and resolve identity when the cookie disappears. In the longer term, Jenson explained, LiveRamp wants to be the solution for brands and other partners preparing for a world without cookies. 

LiveRamp's software-as-a-service (SaaS) identity resolution platform is built around creating memorable user experiences across multiple channels, while building trust and ensuring companies remain compliant with privacy regulations.

Trust and choice are the two key pillars when it comes to customer data utilisation.

“When somebody is visiting your website or visiting your store, or however you're interacting with your customers, it's predicated on trust that applies to how data is being used and to privacy as well," Jenson added.

“The consumer should have the ability to opt out. And that should be very transparent and easy for a consumer to do. So it comes down to just the word ‘choice’.”

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