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A year of change: Marketers uncertain about the future while planning for what’s to come

by | Jun 10, 2022 | Marketing, Public Relations

Newly released research from marketing planning association MMA Global and global consulting firm Boston Consulting Group sought to understand tectonic shifts in the digital marketing landscape as a result of the pending deprecation of 3rd party cookies, plus iOS tracking limitations, and ongoing regulatory changes.

The firms’ new report, The Year of Change in Digital Marketing, which compiles the findings from a survey of 150 senior marketers and marketing and digital practitioners across various industries, reveals a dynamic where 90 percent of marketers feel uncertainty around recent and forthcoming changes and are testing new potential solutions to help them mitigate at least some of that same uncertainty.

“It’s clear to everyone that anti-tracking changes designed to ensure consumer privacy choices are respected are already having a significant impact on marketing productivity, disrupting targeting and personalization,” said Greg Stuart, CEO of MMA Global, in a news release. “However, our research, conducted in partnership with BCG, also showed brands are adapting to the changing landscape by prioritizing 1st party data, investing in new technology such as CDPs instead of DMPs, integrating multiple forms of measurement, and increasing their testing routines.”

Key findings include:

  • Marketers are expecting, at a minimum, to experience a 22 percent reduction in measurable marketing ROI due to cookies deprecation and have already seen a 17 percent reduction, on average, reduction in ROI due to Apple’s ATT rollout alone.
  • Marketers are shifting to new identifiers, but slowly: 50 percent are still planning to rely on cookie-based solutions in the next two years, however 90 percent are testing at least one new identity solution.
  • In response to upcoming 3rd party cookie deprecation, 40 percent of respondents expect to increase spend on Search and Social over Programmatic (Display/Video).

Perhaps most stunning of all, among mid-level marketers surveyed, 50 percent do not have faith that their CMOs fully understand the changes taking place and their implications to compliance, targeting and measurement solutions currently deployed.

The report revealed the challenge that anti-tracking changes like ATT and cookie deprecation have created when it comes to media allocation

“As scale and fidelity of targeting and attribution are now at risk, marketers need to decide whether to double down on the scale platforms or place more emphasis on the open web and emerging channels like CTV where other signals are often stronger,” said Vasilis Bakopoulos, Head of Industry Research and Analytics at MMA Global, in the release.

“Marketers have been hearing about 3rd party cookie deprecation for a while now, they know first-party data will be key and they know they will need new solutions when it comes to identity,” said Derek Rodenhausen, partner at Boston Consulting Group, in the release. “The problem is, it’s not clear exactly when cookies are going away, what the alternatives will be, nor how to best tackle identity in a post-cookie world.”

Rodenhausen believes the uncertainty is leading some marketers to wait on the sidelines to see what happens, but that the best marketers aren’t waiting—they are jumping into the ballgame.

Additional findings speak to what the best marketers/companies are doing:

  • Companies grew their 1st party data assets by an average of 31 percent last year and expect to grow 34 percent YoY looking forward. “Well prepared” companies grew 1p at an 80 percent greater clip than companies with lower levels of preparation.
  • While 60 percent of marketers have invested in DMPs, the majority expect future investments to be made in marketing clouds and customer data platforms; affordability, compliance, and the ability to track cross-platform & device are the most important factors.
  • The “well prepared” companies have invested almost twice as much in data/privacy-related teams, 36 percent compared to 20 percent—and only 45 percent of marketers believe their organization is sufficiently prepared with the “test and learn” attitude that will be required.

“It’s clear from our research released today that we are still in the midst of the year of change, and that tells us there’s more work to be done in this area. That’s why MMA Global will continue to study the future of identifiers and how marketers will be able to forge a path forward to deliver more relevant customer experiences during what seems to be a near continuous cycle of change,” Stuart added.

Download the full report here.

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Richard Carufel
Richard Carufel is editor of Bulldog Reporter and the Daily ’Dog, one of the web’s leading sources of PR and marketing communications news and opinions. He has been reporting on the PR and communications industry for over 12 years, and has interviewed hundreds of journalists and PR industry leaders. Reach him at richardc@bulldogreporter.com; @BulldogReporter

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