TMW #038 | First-party data and strategy, Adobe is building, and generational ad preferences.

May 2, 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.

👋 Why you should sign up

There are two versions of TMW, the full version for subscribers and a 50% version that's for everyone. You are reading the 50% version. Sign up to get the full version delivered every Sunday for this and every TMW. Learn more here.

Welcome to TMW #038. How would you explain what a “first party data strategy” is? I asked this question to the TMW community last week and I got some great, but very different responses. This concept has been the catch-all for a post-cookies world, but it’s confusing, so I’ve unpacked it this week. I also look at Adobe’s new product announcements and generational responses to advertising. Plus there’s everything else that happened, like a very strange NFT marketplace dedicated to William Shatner 🤷‍♂️

Before we get started, here's two quick things:

  • A new MSoM podcast is up! Have we hit peak Martech? With David Raab. We also talk about velociraptors 😱 Links and show notes.
  • I'm yet to sell the NFT I created last week. But many of you reached out to ask me what it is and why you can’t use regular money to buy it. Plenty of learnings here. Planning to share them with you in a few weeks.

✍ Commentary

🎰 Does first-party data (FPD) need a strategy? If you talk to three marketers, one working brand side, one working agency side, and one working vendor side they will each give you three different answers to how you should be using first-party data (FPD). Since 3rd party tracking has started its slow descent into the grave, there have been endless headlines on the importance of building an FPD strategy, but the issue is that companies have already been collecting first-party data, for many years and use it to varying levels of success outside of the business-critical use cases. So why should first-party data have its own strategy? It’s a bit confusing when you start unpacking what people mean by a FPD strategy, but essentially there are three parts in what I’m calling a value chain: Collection. Integration. Consent.

Starting at the top you have data collection, which for FPD perhaps has been neglected over the years as marketers have mostly relied on third-party data from broader marketplaces. A lot of marketers are now asking if we can’t use third-party data anymore, how can we collect more data about our existing customers and people who interact with our properties? To add to this, when you have BCG suggesting that there’s a $200B industry opportunity for marketers by using FPD and Google’s focus on the ROI aspect of customer-level data collection, the argument against tracking customers more for most board discussions become less appealing. However, if brands are investing in a plan for increasing the scope of data collection, wouldn’t this mean that the customer will be more extensively tracked than before? And if there are more digitally immature brands collecting FPD on people, wouldn’t this also mean that core customer data would be less secure and more contaminated? I don’t think we can adequately estimate how many brands out there have poor data literacy, and while third-party tracking collects high volumes of customer data, normally it's not highly sensitive, personal information as you have with FPD. Another aspect worth mentioning is the concept of zero party data, which is explicit data points the customer provides in value exchange. Some publishers are now looking to leverage survey data and join that on identities to further enrich customer profiles, expanding the breadth and depth of how data is being collected. You can probably expect more manipulation efforts for collecting customer data such as email addresses and other inferred and explicit data points as you shop, log in and consume content.

Moving down the FPD strategy value chain is integration. Most companies have treasure troves of data, collected over many years but most of it lives in a data warehouse somewhere or even worse - a CRM. This is where FPD is having a bit of a renaissance moment, where brands are being pushed to further integrate systems to better target customers. What this does create, however, is the unfortunate reliance on the walled gardens like Facebook and Google to use and process first-party data points for advertising, targeting, and lookalikes - more power to them. The world of third-party tracking was really the world of the publisher, and so you could say that an FPD strategy is really just trying to hand over more customer-level data to the big tech players that already have the world’s largest databases anyway.

The last piece in the value chain here is consent, ensuring the safety of FPD as it’s collected and pushed around the web. Asking your customers to collect data seems to be a big focus in FPD strategies considering GDPR and other compliance requirements including iOS 14.5 and ATT. Asking for consent is becoming standard practice as companies are having to become more transparent in the processing and use of data holistically. What’s interesting here is that FPD strategies seem mostly to be a reactionary approach to the demise of third-party tracking with a focus on collection, integration, and privacy. But in the end, FPD strategies appear to really be the same old game with a fresh new data category and the same aggressive collection and activation of data to enable the advertising industry to monetize. Links: BCG - The $200B FPD Opportunity. CMO on growing FPD. Google and FPD value creation. FPD - What is it?  Deloitte on FPD and advertising. Manipulation and data collection. Programmatic and FPD. Tealium’s Opinion.

🔨 Adobe: It’s time to build. Adobe summit happened last week and with it a slew of new product announcements, most of which are built from the ground up with a particular focus on customer journeys and first-party data.  New to the market is Adobe Journey Optimizer, Adobe Customer Journey Analytics, a “real-time” CDP, integrations between Workfront (see #019) and Adobe products. Heaps to unpack here, but what’s clear is that Adobe is definitely going down the build path for their core customer experience technologies, diverging sharply from the likes of Salesforce and Oracle. It does mean then that things are slower to market with the Adobe sticker on them, but they are built in a way that leverages the ecosystem the company is building around data and marketing operations. What’s also interesting is the focus on customer journey orchestration and analytics, which sits nicely in line with the mainstream focus on customer retention and loyalty. Think of the journey technologies as an extension of Adobe Target, their existing AB testing software, but with the ability to manage it in the context of customer journeys and across channels. The company’s big focus is now squarely on first-party data collection and activation, and Adobe’s approach seems to be trying to fit many many pieces into the solution puzzle. Here's a collection of all the press releases here.

📈Chart Of The Week  

🐣 Generational responses to advertising. New research out of Deloitte looks into media trends across social and streaming services. Sign up here to get a link to the full version and the chart. You won't be disappointed.

📰 Latest Developments

The UK, Germany, and Australia join regulatory forces. In a statement issued this week, three government departments have created an alliance on anti-competitive regulation. Given that the companies in view of regulation are mostly big tech corporations, the idea is to broaden the global approach to improving M&A controls. Link

Unsupervised raises $35M. This big data and analytics company has a unique value proposition. The technology runs machine learning over business data to find patterns of underutilized, corrupted, or misplaced data points. The very definition of technology solving technology problems.  Link

Australia’s blockchain crowd. You wouldn’t guess that a tiny country like Australia has such a thriving blockchain and crypto community. There were some major announcements in the latest blockchain forum that point to increased cooperation between traditional financial organizations and crypto exchanges. Link ($)

📚 Reading

Does technology hinder marketing creativity? Many decisions made by marketers these days are increasingly operational or analytical in nature. It’s clear that technology and more specifically data-driven culture can hinder the kind of free-form creativity that produces novel ideas to drive business growth. But by how much and how do you get around it? This McKinsey piece is a deep dive into the topic. Link Also see this research from MTA.

Mental models and measurement. An interesting viewpoint from Marketing Week on why many of the metrics companies use are of no relevance to business outcomes and why building mental models around various types of measurement can help solve this problem. Think less about frameworks and more about the way you identify what’s important. Link

How Epic Games creates a customer ecosystem. The company doesn't compare with the big tech players in valuation, however, the company has created a unique customer ecosystem connecting stores, gameplay, fandom, publishing, services, and technology products into a tightly bundled value proposition. Link

🔢 Data & Insights

A study into news media trustworthiness. Some interesting qualitative research out of Reuters and the University of Oxford on how the mainstream public now understand the role of news media publications broadly and to what extent they can trust them. One big takeout is that familiarity with a media brand on digital channels has a high correlation with trust. Link

America’s most promising AI companies. There’s a lot of activity here I’ve never heard about and it’s incredible to see how widespread AI applications have become. There are some interesting MOps focused companies in here too and it’s good to see! Link

The rise of the Neobank. An analysis tracking the global emergence of neo/challenger banks in the financial sector. About 39 million users globally use a Neobank, and there have been 310 companies that have launched since 2010. This tells me there’s still heaps of opportunity in this space. Link

💡 Ideas

Voice profiling - your next data point. Data marketplaces can link the mood conveyed by your voice with your phone number to personalize offers and products based on how you’re feeling. A TNW analysis surveying a large pool of marketing executives suggests an outlook that voice profiling using AI will become a mainstream practice in a decade. Link

NFTs are coming for ecommerce. A startup that helps brands to mint NFTs to represent fashion items recently launched. The focus is on luxury brands. We could see the day where to buy a pair of shoes online, you’d use cryptocurrency to buy the NFT of an SKU, which then becomes both your proof of purchase and digital collectible. Link

Tipping is taking over the internet. I hear that Twitter is working on a tipping feature that you can enable on your profile. Clubhouse is working on something similar and so is Facebook. Youtube already has tipping for live streams. Tipping is becoming a more acceptable way to appreciate the work of creators on the internet and an interesting angle for social media companies to pursue. Link

✨ Weird and Wonderful

The ATT gallery. Someone has started collecting screencaps of the AppTrackingTransparency prompts that appear when you open an App. Surprisingly there’s a huge variation in messaging and call to actions. Some are clearly using dark patterns for opt-ins. Link

The slander industry. A really interesting piece from the NYTs on an industry that monetizes on publicly slandering people by running an operation on one of their own journalists. Turns out a lot of the public shaming sites and the sites you can pay to remove the slander are operated by the same groups of people. Link

William Shatner marketplace. Yes, the former Star Trek actor has an entire NFT marketplace devoted to buying and selling playing cards that capture famous moments in his career. This is truly one of the strangest things I’ve seen on the web. Truly. Link

Stay Curious,

Make sense of marketing technology.

Sign up now to get the full version of TMW delivered to your inbox every Sunday afternoon plus an invite to the slack community.

Want to share something interesting or be featured in The Martech Weekly? Drop me a line at

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.

Great! You've successfully subscribed.
Great! Next, complete checkout for full access.
Welcome back! You've successfully signed in.
Success! Your account is fully activated, you now have access to all content.