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Ahead of a change in the legalities of programmatic, ProcureCon Marketing assesses how iconic global beverage brand Heineken is looking to navigate a cookie-less future.
“Email marketing isn’t something it seemed like Heineken would do, but I think with this first-party data focus, it does become quite compelling.”
For many years now, professionals in the world of marketing procurement have relied on internet cookies to gather data on their audiences and ensure they are buying ad space in the areas where they are likely to be seen by the most receptive eyes.
However, when in 2020 Google announced it would over the following two years be phasing out third-party cookie support for its market dominating browser application, Chrome, it naturally sent shockwaves through the marketing industry. And, with Firefox and Safari both set to follow Google’s lead, the challenges are not going to end with Chrome.
In a landscape where customers still expect personalised recommendations but are becoming increasingly aware of and sensitive about the privacy of their data, the world of marketing procurement needs to find alternatives to cookie-based ad space purchasing.
Why the change?
As we all know, third-party cookies are incredible useful to advertisers as they allow for ads to be hyper-targeted and personalised to an audience, even if they are not directly engaged with the brand in question.
However, an increasingly strict regulatory environment around data has made the business of third-party cookie gathering untenable. Regulations such as the EU’s GDPR forces companies to get consent from internet users before they can gather such data but, once that consent has been given, there is no visibility or control over exactly which organisations then have access to it.
This can lead to persistent and often intrusive ad-targeting from sometimes disreputable businesses or industries – such as cryptocurrency dealers, for example.
As one of the world’s most recognised and beloved alcoholic beverage brands, Dutch beer brewers, Heineken N.V. Heineken has been watching the third-party cookie situation develop with keen interest and has been taking steps to ensure it is still able to bring personalised and targeted advertising to its army of discerning fans.
To this end Heineken, has implemented a plan built around future-proofing its data strategies around identity, privacy, consent, and to empower it to continue to leverage the power of digital data across its brands to ensure it can segment and target across channels.
This means Heineken has had to move away from the data management platform it has historically used as these technologies rely on the same third-party cookie data which will soon be eliminated.
“An issue we had with DMP-based segments historically was that we lacked a lot of insight,” said Heineken USA Director of Consumer Insights, Rebekah Kennedy. “DMPs are built on those more anonymous identifiers, and that will become a lot harder to use once these browser changes come. We needed to really look to replace the anonymous identifiers with a more sustainable solution that was built on identity, which we think is used more consistently across channels.”
After dumping its existing DMP, Heineken established a new partnership with customer data platform, BlueConic which would allow the company to establish a portfolio of first-party data gathered directly from customers themselves, rather than from behind the nebulous curtain of third-party cookies.
Heineken can therefore import consumer data from the multiple agencies it works with and boost its interactions with consumers via online touchpoints. This first-party data can then be used to build segments based on customer interests and explicit and transparent marketing consent, which can be applied to campaigns across the Heineken family of brands.
“The advantage of having a first-party data strategy is primarily just understanding more about consumers,” added Kennedy. “And one of our goals for doing that was to improve media efficiency and effectiveness through segmentation and consumer engagement strategies.”
The new focus on first-party data is also inspiring Heineken to expand into new channels and areas of marketing which it may not have previously considered, such as email marketing.
“We’re looking to understand how we can use email marketing as a channel for awareness and engagement, understanding what kind of products and flavours people are liking,” concluded Kennedy. “Email marketing isn’t something it seemed like Heineken would do, but I think with this first-party data focus, it does become quite compelling.”
It’s now two years since Google first announced its intentions to eliminate third-party cookies from Chrome, so the time to act is now. Brands which want to continue to reach their audiences with personalised and relevant advertising need to pivot to alternative data gathering means – such as first-party – to remain competitive in this unique environment.
You can hear Heineken Senior Vice President, Ekaterina Agafonova speak at ProcureCon Marketing EU 2022, being held in June at County Hall, London. Download the agenda today for more information and insights.