P&G: Online Walled Gardens Are Here to Stay; It’s Time to Leverage Zero-Party Data
“The walled gardens are probably going to remain walled, so we’re taking matters into our own hands.” - Marc Pritchard, Chief Brand Officer, Procter & Gamble
Procter & Gamble’s Chief Brand Officer Mark Pritchard is calling time on the organization’s over-reliance on advertising behemoths Facebook and Google. Responsible for the world’s second-largest advertising budget ($6.75 billion in 2019 alone), Pritchard is unable to prove ROI to his shareholders, with the advertising duopoly reticent to share the sort of campaign metrics and performance one would expect from any other partnership.
Digital advertising is already a vertical hallmarked by a lack of transparency, performance fraud, ad blocking, and spamming ad frequency that have resulted in the abject engagement rates we see today. For all too long, businesses have blindly squandered their marketing budgets on formats that are no longer fit for purpose. Chasing views, clicks, and other vanity metrics instead of what really matters: engagement.
P&G (like many other brands) is undergoing an engagement pivot - from relying on the walled gardens to focusing on zero-party data (data that is willingly and purposefully shared by the consumer) to create a complete picture of how consumers are engaging with the brand across all digital channels.
For decades, CPG brands monopolized the products that touch consumers’ lives every day - from soup to pasta, soda, shampoo, detergent, and dried food. CPG behemoths manufactured it all.
But then came digital disruptors like Dollar Shave Club, Beer 52, and a plethora of food subscription services that went directly to consumers and created the meaningful relationships and emotional loyalty CPG brands used to boast.
But it wasn’t about having a superior product or better price point. These disruptors know who their customers are, collecting the preference insights, purchase intentions, and all manner of psychographic data points that shape their advertising.
The value exchange economy
CPGs and other advertisers can start reconnecting with modern consumers by switching from interruptions to experiences. Instead of erroneously spending money on pushing their message wider and further, they can leverage interactive experiences that live within any digital channel and offer a value exchange to consumers in return for permission and engagement.
For brands to collect the data required to power true personalization, consumers need to be entertained, engaged, and receive something in return for their attention and preference data.
Brands can deliver this through interactive experiences that conduct research, accrue opt-ins, and deliver an altogether better experience with tangible value exchange for the consumer. Questionnaires, polls, quizzes, contests, or social stories can incorporate reward mechanics that give consumers a genuine reason to engage and submit their first- and zero-party data. And it doesn’t always have to be a discount or red-letter prize. Free trials, loyalty points, and personalized recommendations can be the catalyst for the collection of opt-ins and preference data.
Putting theory into practice: Reckitt Benckiser
British multinational CPG company, Reckitt Benckiser, used Cheetah Experiences to create a microsite with a customized questionnaire to help inform its decision-making around future candle and scent product development for its subsidiary brand Air Wick.
Consumers were asked to complete a quick and engaging questionnaire on product design and purchase motivations, as well as share some basic PII data. This efficient and effective online research approach replaced traditionally costly and lengthy research techniques, fueled product development, and loaded Reckitt Benckiser’s CRM with high-quality zero-party data to help power personalized marketing, content and services.
- 15,000 unique entries from target demographic, fueling future product development
- Cloned and deployed the digital experience to six markets to better understand audience preferences
“This was a really exciting initiative,” said Caroline Stewart, Global Digital Brand Manager at Reckitt Benckiser. “We could quickly see how a live audience responded to a new idea, enabling us to make faster project decisions.”
The age of privacy
As privacy legislation sweeps the globe, it is increasingly difficult for marketers to buy accurate data about individual consumers. Although these purchased, aggregated data sets that conjugated consumers into large cohorts were seldom accurate or contextually relevant.
Compounded by recent moves by browsers and mobile operating systems to restrict marketers’ ability to use third-party tracking cookies to understand consumer behavior, it’s only going to get more difficult to connect with consumers. There needs to be a paradigm shift.
The future of marketing to individuals with relevance is about asking them about their interests, motivations, and desires, rather than inferring or snooping on them. With a zero-party data strategy, brands can connect directly to consumers and gather the data that the “walled gardens” so jealously guard.
What is zero-party data and how are marketers making use of it?
Richard Jones is the CMO at Cheetah Digital, where he oversees a global team that is responsible for all aspects of the brand, demand generation, digital marketing, corporate communications, and sales development. With more than 20 years of marketing, sales and strategy experience, Jones was previously the CEO of Wayin, a global leader in zero-party data collection and activation. There, he helped many of the world’s leading brands such as Daily Mail Group, NHL, Bauer Media, Vodafone, Priceline.com, Reckitt Benckiser, Air New Zealand, and Manchester City FC create zero-party data strategies.