People-based vs. cookie-based tracking
When Facebook relaunched Atlas in 2014, a new marketing buzzword was created, people-based marketing. It gave advertisers the idea that they can actually track people instead of cookies and make better decisions. Why would this new approach be better? When you rely on cookie-based tracking, you are tracking the activity of a browser, but not the person. Multiple cookies can exist for the same person, since one person can use various browsers on different devices. Many users are also aware that cookies exist, which means that they have control of deleting them. Cookies also do not exist within mobile apps or certain mobile browsers. All of these issues create a challenge for marketers to fully understand a consumer’s journey. Cookies are going to continue to lose relevance as people continue to spend more of their time connected to the internet across a variety of technologies.
How does it work?
First-party data that can identify a person is possible through persistent logins such as Facebook. A Facebook user ID can track someone based on any device that has been used to log into a Facebook account. The ID allows Facebook to trace how many times a person has actually seen an ad across various devices rather than relying on data from a site’s cookie. As more sites and apps allow users to log in through their social and email accounts, marketers will be able to stitch together data of actual people across browsers, devices and channels. Cross-device ID tracking can help advertisers better understand the total reach of their digital campaigns. This more accurate data gives insight on whether you’ve actually reached only 10 million people at a higher frequency versus 20 million. That’s a huge difference. Marketers will be continuously challenged to know who they are reaching and how to reach their target audience. Instead of serving the same message to people repeatedly, we need to start to think more creatively about how we are prospecting consumers throughout their journey. The need for people-based marketing will continue to grow as people expect a more personalized mobile experience.
What should we expect?
We are currently limited to technology that allows us to find verifiable individuals, however, we can start to use more accurate data via persistent logins. Atlas has recently announced that they will be primarily focusing on their people-based measurement pixel instead of competing within the ad server space. The Atlas team will now be more invested in developing better integration between Atlas and Facebook’s measurement platforms. Advertising technologies are taking big steps to provide more access to first-party data, and we need to be ready to improve the way we measure our campaigns.