Increased emphasis on personal privacy, particularly with changes to Apple’s Identifier for Advertisers and the probability of cookie-less browsers soon, could increase the need for content marketing.
Content marketing is already popular. This is especially true for B2B, where manufacturers, wholesalers, and even software companies use articles, whitepapers, videos, and similar to attract, engage, and retain customers.
Retailers, too, use content marketing. For them, it is often a way to lessen their dependence on advertising or a means to win organic-search battles for important keyword phrases.
Content marketing could become even more important due to forthcoming privacy-related changes that make it more difficult for B2B and B2C businesses to target specific customers with ads that run across platforms, applications, and websites.
In the past, the iPhone’s operating system would automatically provide each installed app with a unique Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) that could be added to a third-party identity graph, making it possible to track and advertise to a shopper across devices and platforms and enabling lookalike targeting. This will be changing in 2021 when users must opt-in to enable such tracking.
“Most SMBs — Shopify sites [or merchants] that are on those kinds of platforms — are not going to be directly affected by IDFA with their own marketing — unless they have mobile apps. But what they will see is, potentially, a diminished impact or diminished effectiveness of lookalike models,” said Nii Ahene, chief strategy officer for Tinuiti, a performance marketing agency.
Lookalike modeling is the action of identifying prospects who “look” or behave like an advertiser’s customers.
Some of the most effective advertising campaigns on platforms such as Facebook and Google are based on lookalikes.
Already, Facebook said that it would stop “collecting the Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) on [its] own apps on iOS 14 devices. This is not a change we want to make, but unfortunately, Apple’s updates to iOS 14 have forced this decision. We know this may severely impact publishers’ ability to monetize through Audience Network on iOS 14 and, despite our best efforts, may render Audience Network so ineffective on iOS 14 that it may not make sense to offer it on iOS 14 in the future.”
Early indications are that publisher revenue on the aforementioned Facebook Audience Network could drop 50 percent for ads shown on Apple’s iPhone with the iOS 14 operating system. Some performance marketing experts contribute part of these losses to an inability to use lookalike audiences.
Bottom line, “It is going to be very hard to serve those ads if you cannot track a unique identifier saying that the Dave that’s using Facebook is the same Dave that’s using the NBA.com app. That’s going to be very challenging,” said Ahene.
“Let’s say John is a buyer of Nike products,” said Ahene. “He buys from Nike.com, and he has [the NBA.com app]. He uses ESPN.com. He uses the Association of Tennis Professionals’ app. Clearly, he is a sports consumer. Bill also uses those three apps, but he’s never bought from Nike.com. Right now, Facebook can see that.”
“The moment you take IDFA away, Facebook can no longer see that app universe. It becomes that much harder to establish correlations between users, and the effectiveness of these lookalikes might start to diminish,” Ahene said. “So I think that’s the thing that an SMB has to worry about, if they are heavily banking on lookalikes to be their prospecting method.”
“In terms of future-proofing [a business’s advertising and marketing], having first-party data and permissions associated with your in-house activities is the biggest thing,” said Ahene.
This is important for a few reasons. First, a business may use owned channels, such as email or loyalty programs, to continue to market to relatively high converting customers assuming the business has customers’ information and permission to market to them. Second, companies may start to gather and organize customer information into their own, first-party identity graphs.
The term “identity graph” describes the collection and correlation of personally identifiable information and other digital data. An identity graph can be used with precision (and personalization) to market or advertise to someone.
“I’m imploring our clients and our clients’ teams to really think about ‘what is your ability to collect information?’ Even if someone purchases from your website, can you get them on a mailing list? Can you give them a coupon in exchange for a phone number? How can you get consent to market and communicate with them? Because the wider that identity graph is — the more consumers you know who are familiar with your brand — the wider the net you can push out to a Google or a Roku or even Trade Desk [an advertising platform],” Ahene said.
For this to work, marketers will need to find something to exchange for shopper information. Content may be a very good choice.
“Content marketing’s goal is to create and distribute valuable, relevant, and consistent content. Content that triggers a response to drive action. The notion of reciprocity — trying to repay, in kind, what another has provided for us — is a deeply ingrained human behavior. Providing content that the audience finds entertaining, insightful, or informative means they may feel ‘indebted’ to support the brand in some way,” wrote Kelly Saunderson, client services director for Issues Ink, a media company, in an August 2018 article.
“Content marketing is inherently reciprocal. You put in the work to create and distribute impactful content. The audience shows appreciation through engagement,” wrote Saunderson.
That engagement might help businesses build first-party identity graphs that will help them market and advertise.