By Alexander Bachmann
Between users’ ever-increasing wariness of targeted ads and data tracking and the steady rise of new technologies in marketing tech, the entire outlook on martech is changing in favor of direct relationships and allowing consumers to have a greater sense of control over how and when they are marketed to.
A 2021 poll by the Digital Consumer Trends Index found that 66% of respondents around the world feel that tracking-based ads are “creepy.” In another report by Flurry Analytics, it was noted that only about 11% of the 5.3 million global iOS users have opted into ad tracking features.
Users actively choose to avoid third-party data tracking as much as possible, and cookies are now well on their way out. However, a few big questions remain: How will marketers adapt? What will this mean for affiliate and performance marketing?
Tracking the changes to data privacy from a MarTech perspective
The strong and consistently growing focus on privacy and user data protection means that companies must be both careful and creative concerning their current and future tracking methods.
Likely, the current methods of cookies, third-party data collection and related tracking techniques will be obsolete within the next five years and certainly within the next decade. In fact, cookies are already considered dead as a tracking tool.
A recent analysis of Fortune 500 company marketing tactics has shown that at least 75% of these brands are already turning to artificial intelligence to bolster their marketing stacks, and over half are integrating first-party data enrichment. This makes sense, given that 79% of executives believe that the ability to use first-party data effectively is foundational for using AI as a martech tool.
If we look at the performance marketing trends in Europe, we can see the open tracking trend that is likely to grow and expand in the near future. With this type of transaction tracking, banks can be connected and allow certified partners to see a consumer’s relevant transaction history, similar to how store credit cards and loyalty accounts work. This method of more open, integrated user profiles will drastically improve brands’ ability to gather cross-platform data without cookies.
It also works well with newer, active tracking methods like using unique promo codes and financial transaction history tracking. The promo codes are especially useful for offline traffic tracking as well because they can be disseminated through channels like mail, radio and brick-and-mortar, offering valuable demographic information.
However, it is also worth noting that companies like Apple are carefully finding ways to integrate tracking methods that do not require explicit user permission. Systems like their SKAdNetwork and Privacy Click Measurement have no direct connection to individual users, meaning they can be implemented even if users have opted out of other data-tracking methods.
All of these changes will directly impact affiliate marketing and performance marketers as well, especially since traditional tracking methods rely on the technologies we have just said are rapidly becoming too outdated to be valid.
How publishers and performance marketers can break into the new data tracking paradigm
The most probable scenario for the future is that the average players will face more hardships when it comes to user acquisition, audience behavior tracking and cross-platform data collection. Significant names like Google, Meta and Apple will be able to throw the money and resources necessary into finding the best ways to collect cross-platform data through control over traditional tracking, internet tracking and whatever new methods are developed in the future.
This is already happening to an extent, and average companies are seeking ways to team up with these tech titans. For instance, many apps now allow users to log in with their Facebook, Apple or Google credentials. This not only simplifies the customer experience but also creates additional data points that become an essential part of the user’s overall online presence. This is one way for performance marketers to gain cross-platform tracking information, and it will more than likely continue to grow in popularity over time.
Another aspect of this is that many of the companies in the performance marketing sphere will have existing affiliate programs that they will need to either overhaul or pivot to meet the changing demands. While a small number will have the ability to innovate and see new opportunities to take advantage of, the truth is that most will not. In these cases, they will turn to tech companies like Mitgo that already have adaptable, innovative technologies readily available for easy affiliate program use.
Finally, affiliate and performance marketers must focus on ways to deliver the true, meaningful personalization that is most effective for reaching consumers. One of the best ways to do this is by establishing enough trust that the audience offers a brand’s partners or publishers voluntary “zero-party data,” which gives you a deeper, more meaningful look into their interests, motivations and behavior patterns. This is the gold standard of data, and it offers an unparalleled amount of value from a marketing and revenue standpoint. This can include everything from polls and contests to fun quizzes and interactive questionnaires.
Future publishers are the platform users
Before, platforms used to be responsible for managing content and all of the data that came with it. However, as user behaviors and preferences have continually shifted over the years, more and more control over data and privacy has been placed into the hands of the average internet user.
Because of this, today’s landscape is more heavily focused on collaboration and less centered around companies having control. With the addition of AI into this mix, marketers are now looking at a brand-new environment they must learn how to navigate.
A major factor in the future of data tracking for effective performance marketing will be the ability to gain audience trust so that consumers are willing to freely offer information about themselves to a brand.
We have moved into a digital creator-centric society, where anyone can be in control of their online presence, so we must remember that the future of martech is individuals, and the data is theirs to give.
About the author
Alexander Bachmann is the Founder and CEO of Mitgo, a startup accelerator focused on delivering innovative solutions and promoting entrepreneurship. Previously, he had founded Admitad as an affiliate network, which is now recognized as one of largest affiliate platforms for advertisers and publishers. Alexander has been in the martech space for over 20 years and has extensive expertise in MarTech, FinTech, and IT-driven Startup Incubation sectors.