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How to Enable Targeted Media in the Cookieless Future with Data Clean Rooms

The digital cookie has crumbled but that doesn’t mean we cannot measure incrementality of media campaigns.

The marketing industry has been buzzing with the news of the “death of the third-party cookie” and marketers are wondering how best to prepare for the change. The crumbling of the cookie raises the question of not only how to identify customers but also how to measure their interactions. Digital marketers rely on multi-touch attribution and the third-party cookie going away presents a major challenge. However, this is a blessing in disguise, since we have an opportunity to drive customer centricity by moving from an anonymous cookie to individual level targeting and measurement in a closed loop fashion, all while accounting for data privacy and consumer preferences.

How do we do get there?

While targeting at the individual level in the digital marketing world may have seemed like a far-fetched idea, Merkle’s Merkury platform allows one to do just that. Merkury has four key components:

  1. Identity resolution – The ability to resolve digital and terrestrial identity to a unique person ID using the entire US Population (242 MM adults 18+) as the base
  2. Data – Over 3k+ data attributes for the entire US population tied to the Merkury ID
  3. Connections – Over 60+ cookieless premium publisher and addressable TV integrations
  4. Clean Room – Privacy-safe environment to conduct audience analytics and closed-loop measurement 

The platform leverages a person-based identity linkage with premium publishers and addressable TV partners to reach audiences without the use of third-party cookies. The solution allows us to market to both first- and third-party data-based audiences, where in, a list of desired target individuals can be pushed to publishers for cookieless activation. In addition, the identity linkage allows for media impression data to come into our privacy safe clean room environment from these partners.

Clean room architecture

What was old is new again. We can leverage the tried and tested methods of experimental design to measure the efficacy of media targeting, audiences, and creatives. The media impression data coming into the clean room environment creates transparency for reach and frequency to be tracked at the person level. Impression data from publishers, original published audience, the first-party response and online and offline conversion data is tied together at the person level to help understand the incremental impact of marketing.

Does it really work?

Yes, it does! While the base use case is to prove the incrementality of targeting, the benefits go far beyond that. Many of our clients find greater value in being able to identify the pockets of audiences where results can be improved. Customer-centric marketing allows one to be surgical and precise by leveraging advanced analytical and modeling techniques to help refine audience selection for continuous improvement.  

Clean room

The above visual showcases a typical test set up. It allows for comparison between the test and holdout groups, but also, more importantly, between the exposed and unexposed groups. This framework has been utilized across a variety of our clients resulting in demonstrable performance lifts for the exposed audience in comparison to the unexposed. A leading auto manufacturer was able to prove that people-based audiences were driving over 60% incremental lift and 70% of sales were matched back to the exposed audience. Another example of utilizing the Merkury clean room comes from a CPG brand that partnered with a third-party store sales data provider to match exposed audiences to in-store sales and optimize in-flight media campaigns. 

People-based marketing enables target audience selection based on propensity models to optimize on target KPIs. The closed-loop reporting process provides insights across multiple dimensions such as messaging, audience, publishers groups. This is leveraged to help refine future targeting with the feedback loop.

The change is here, and it’s for the better. Bringing tailored and targeted experiences to consumers in a cookieless future is not only feasible but also measurable and dependable.

Want to learn more? Check out our new guide, The Future of Identity here.

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