Chasing Holiday Consumers: The Hunt for First-Party Data Has Brands Moving Beyond Social and Retail Media Networks

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team
Published on December 13, 2023

With the holiday season in full swing, advertisers are on the lookout for innovative strategies to harness first-party data. Retail media networks (RMNs) and social platforms have come to represent alluring alternatives for brands and marketers in their quest to gain access to coveted first-party data. Yet, they also come with their own baggage.

The confined nature of RMNs and less than authentic interactions with users on social networks limit their versatility and effectiveness. As a result, brands and marketers are increasingly seeking alternative methods to refine their targeting approaches.

This shift not only underscores the allure and challenges of retail media networks and social platforms but also dovetails into a broader conversation about the effectiveness of traditional advertising practices in an advertising era that increasingly places a premium on privacy and the methods used for gathering first-party data.

Venturing Beyond Walled Gardens

As brands seek more precise and authentic ways to engage their consumers, the appeal of retail media networks is clear. These networks offer a treasure trove of extremely valuable first-party data at a time when consumer skepticism is reshaping the digital advertising narrative. Yet, RMNs have significant limitations that give advertisers pause.

Virtually all advertisers surveyed in a recent report said that they have challenges relating to the walled-garden environments of retail media networks. A common challenge is the lack of campaign performance visibility/transparency (57%). RMNs’ lack of interoperability (54%) is also rated as a concern for a majority.

Social networks also offer marketers an alternative way to discover valuable first-party targeting solutions that should drive positive outcomes around holiday shoppers. Yet, one inherent issue with social media networks is that individuals on these platforms often portray their aspirational selves, projecting an image they want others to see.

This environment can foster a less-than-honest or ingenuine reflection of the consumer, making advertising outcomes, in turn, less reliable. So, while social networks indeed offer first-party data opportunities for marketers, their value in providing assets for data-driven decision-making is often compromised.

Finding Scale and Authenticity 

Increasingly, brands are turning to platforms that leverage consent and first-party declared data at scale to enable precise ad targeting and measurement, something akin to social and retail media networks but extended to the open web. These platforms provide marketers with the ability to leverage the kind of first-party data found in retail media and social networks but across a wider audience while also providing a more authentic (less aspirational) picture of the consumer.

These collaborations also enable advertisers to leverage first-party data to gain deeper insights into consumer behavior and preferences. By going beyond isolated transactions and considering the holistic customer journey, advertisers can make more informed decisions and drive better results.

An example of this new breed of advertising platform is CivicScience Advertising, which uses user data gathered within a permissioned framework from CivicScience polls.

CivicScience is the premiere consumer intelligence platform that designs polls and surveys to engage respondents voluntarily in and around relevant content across premium publishers. Poll responses are then collected with consent and anonymized into CivicScience Advertising audiences.

According to Alex DeSanctis, CRO at CivicScience Advertising, the key for brands and marketers is to understand that high-performance targeting and effective measurement are now rooted in authentic, consent-driven interactions with real users across the web. “CivicScience Advertising leverages first-party insights on individual consumer preferences and intentions,” he adds.  “This enables advertisers to deliver more personalized and relevant experiences and prove their investment is working.”

As the advertising landscape continues to become more privacy-focused, the objective of these innovative approaches is to empower marketers with transparency around first-party data, enabling them to build more meaningful connections with their target audience and achieve better results. These new breeds of platforms deliver those results without the constraints and drawbacks common to RMNs and social networks.

By Spencer Hulse Spencer Hulse has been verified by Muck Rack's editorial team

Spencer Hulse is the Editorial Director at Grit Daily. He is responsible for overseeing other editors and writers, day-to-day operations, and covering breaking news.

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