TMW #037 | The erosion of email, iOS 14.5 and tech in Europe.

Apr 25, 2021

Welcome to The Martech Weekly, where every week I review some of the most interesting ideas, research, and latest news. I try to look to where the industry is going and make sense of it all.

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There’s been a lot of talk this week around the imminent privacy changes to iOS 14.5 impacting app developers, marketers and advertisers around the globe. I zero in on this topic and the eroding value of the email address. As more brands invest in First Party Data, I look at the  ways in which email addresses are reducing in value.

I also look at SaaS growth in Europe, plus 15+ links of everything important that happened in Martech (including what your brain looks like on Zoom meetings).

🎁 Before we get into things: Something fun!

Last week you might have read my essay on Web3, looking at the technologies that have the potential to redefine how we do marketing on the internet. As part of this exploration I’ve minted TMW’s first NFT on Zora! The artwork is a visualisation of the Web3 essay, which you can bid for right now. 50% of proceeds will be donated to the Foundation Against Child Exploitation, a charity that works towards keeping the internet safe for kids 💕

View the artwork and bid here. ✨

👇 Here’s everything you’ve missed in marketing and tech this week.

✍ Commentary

📧 The erosion of email. What would happen to your career if the email address went extinct? Probably nothing good. Email was invented somewhere between 1971 and 1982 as part of the ARPANET internet project and has since become a cornerstone of the web. Email powers the most vital connections between companies and customers, and is now even more foundational as the 3rd party cookie industry collapses. Just as third party tracking has diminished the value of the website data layer, first party advertising strategies are doing the same to the email address, eroding it’s value and making it even more difficult to instill a genuine relationship between customer and company. In recent years you might have noticed that you can sign in with Apple or Google or another app that keeps your email address private and provides a burner email address instead so you can access that discount code, purchase something discreetly or access content. This is a huge problem for publishers, but also everyone who’s trying to form customer identities in the data by using an email address. With so many solutions out there to track people based on email addresses alone, it does make you wonder what happens when consumers start using email randomizers like they do with cookie blockers on the web.  

I can presume a few things might happen to email in the years to come:

  • The core value proposition of marketing automation, CDP and data infrastructure platforms start to become diminished because email addresses tend to form the crux of the identity solutions for these platforms. Without the reliability of email, creating a customer ID will become even harder.
  • Digital departments will have to make accommodations in their data analytics knowing that there will be a number of email addresses that won’t be usable for core email marketing and retargeting use cases.
  • More scrutiny will be placed on email and data collection strategies, with solutions to filter out these non-identifiable email addresses with ways to incentivise “real” email address collection.

The real problem here is that there is no real alternative to an email address when it comes to a portable customer identity. It’s fine for Facebook or TikTok to create a user_id on someone, but the same person will never be identified across both platforms. It’s like this on purpose, to keep users and advertisers locked into one network. Another innovation that’s been around for a while is ENS, a naming service that turns cryptocurrency wallet addresses into readable domains, eschewing the Identity of users while enabling them to have an “address” they can use for signing up to things. This is now a really interesting moment where the consumer has more power than ever on privacy decisions, but also would rather trust Google or Apple or even Mozilla with their personal information on the web. Usually “big tech” is understood to have a monopoly on technology IP, but increasingly these platforms have a monopoly on customer identity. When you have a value proposition that you can use Apple to sign up for anything with one click, absolute privacy and control over opting out, this can quickly become the default behaviour for consumers. In fact a report from Gigya states that 88% of U.S. Consumers have used social logins at least once. The value proposition also goes the other way too, including an Apple or Google login can also increase website performance metrics for online stores and sign ups, so why not use it?

How should companies respond to the value erosion of email addresses? For starters, marketers will increasingly have to improve the value proposition of collecting personal information, far beyond the typical scenarios like buying something or accessing a whitepaper. Even I get the occasional platform email address, not the person’s real one but a randomly generated one that’s used for a reader app. And so doubling down on answering why consumers should share their identity with your brand will become more important. When it comes to the future of the mighty email address, it’s a winner takes all game and the house (i.e. big tech) always wins. Links: Temporary emails disrupt FPD strategies. The personal-data war. Wired on disposable emails. Firefox email identity tool. Gigya social login research.

💥 iOS 14.5: D-Day for Data Collection?. Apple has announced with the upcoming release of iOS 14.5 an enforcement of ATT (AppTrackingTransparency) rules for app developers. This means that unless a user gives explicit permission to allow the app to track that user’s data, all the advertising identifiers values will be zeroed out. This includes things like asking for a name and email address with a requirement to include rationale as to why you need to track these things. It appears that what Apple is doing to PII is similar to how the App Store manages purchases - only through the Apple Gateway (with a 30% clip of the ticket). The estimate, looking at an analysis of 300 apps across 2,000 devices is that 68% of people will block data collection use for Apps.This will be impacting an ad industry that has enjoyed 1.2 million ad opportunities per second that are directly tied to IDFA metrics. You can probably take a guess at how much this will influence the advertising industry. The curious thing here is that Apple is now functioning as a de facto regulator of customer data on their platform, choosing to uphold their brand promise on privacy by severely limiting what data can be collected on a user. There wasn’t government or regulatory interference for this decision, It’s just Apple working to reign in the ad tech industry after a decade of mostly open in-app tracking. I suspect there will be some shaking out of what can and can’t happen as iOS 14.5 rolls out, however what’s clear is that explicit user permission will now become a bedrock for how Apple deals with advertisers moving forward. Links: Apple announcement. ATT Opt-in analysis. AdWeek commentary ($).Facebook on the impact of ATT. Reporting on ATT.

📈 Chart of The Week

Tech startups in Europe. The technology space in European countries is growing.  Sign up here to get a link to the full version and the chart. You won't be disappointed.

📰 Latest Developments

Zoom’s platform attempt. This week the company announced a $100M investment into “Zoom Apps” a marketplace that directly integrates sales, events and other apps into the ecosystem. The investment is targeted to startups that can show some traction to bring them onboard to the Zoom marketplace. Link

Rejection of Google’s FLoC. Good thing Google doesn’t need browsers like Firefox, Brave and Microsoft Edge to buy into the new FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) ad technology. Chrome has a 69% market share and while the browser is built upon Chromium, an open source framework, this makes porting FLoC available to other Chromium based browsers. Almost every browser maker has rejected FLoC on privacy grounds. Link

📚 Reading

Artificial Intelligence and The Metaverse. Jensen Huang, CEO of Nvidia on the state of AI and his outlook on how this technology will power what he calls “a virtual world that is a digital twin of ours.” Nvidia is in an interesting space for AI. The company has a market cap of $400 Billion and sits in the intersection between rapidly advancing gaming technologies and the commoditization of complex computing that makes AI/ML programs more widespread. Huang’s view is that AI will increasingly “automate, automation.” Link.

Is digital a downstream discipline? Should digital agencies be the ones to come up with big, bold brand ideas? The answer from Marketing Week’s Helen Edwards is no. An interesting analysis on how brands are trying to sort out the place of CX strategy and brand marketing, impacting where the digital arm of the business sits. The argument is that digital agencies tend to have a narrower and more executional focus than your typical ad agencies, which is a weakness when it comes to brand strategy. Link

🔢 Data & Insights

Marketers and analytics. New research out from a Nielsen US survey suggests that less than 1 in 5 marketers are confident in their ability to measure things like conversion rate, return on investment and channel attribution. The problem appears to be focused on skills and experience over technology solutions. Link

The history of the CMS. Some really interesting statistics around the adoption of Content Management Systems over time, stretching right back to 2011. Wordpress is still growing exponentially, with more than 41% of total share last year, while the “nones” group continues to decline. You can also pinpoint when WYSIWYG type platforms like Shopify and Wix start to gain traction. Link

💡 Ideas

1-800-D2C. A resource tracking direct-to-consumer brands and which Martech tools are used to power them. Look up competitors, get an understanding of what kinds of software they use and find similar companies. Link

The hats CMO’s need to wear. Scott Brinker, speaking with FSMartech unpacks why the Chief Marketing Officer is now having to think like CTOs and CIOs as technology continues to converge with marketing and operations. Link

✨ Weird and Wonderful

Your brain on Zoom Meetings. Microsoft has done a study on the relative stress levels of back to back zoom meetings, compared with taking breaks in between. The differences are significant. Link

The Meta-Human. Unreal engines, the people behind a number of high profile games have released software which allows you to create very lifelike human avatars that can be used for things like Zoom meetings (see above) or fake social media profiles. Link

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Juan Mendoza

Juan Mendoza is an expert in researching global media, marketing, data, and technology trends. He is the CEO of The Martech Weekly, a media and research brand with subscribers in over 65 countries.

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