Cookies in the Coal Mine?

The midterms may be a harbinger for the post-cookie world, brands have retail media mania and Facebook tries to get out in front of consumer privacy questions.

There‘s a lot to get into this week, so here goes!

Get Ready for a Digital Flood

Although all politics is local, it seems political ad spending trends could be an early indicator of where overall digital advertising is headed. Axios this week reported that those of us in key swing states should expect a heavy dose of CTV ads with the midterm elections approaching in 2022 — in large part because cookie depreciation has made hyper targeting more difficult.

“‘CTV is accounting for an increasing amount of digital ad budgets, and those ads are largely not available for cookie-based targeting,‘ says Tim Cameron, co-founder of FlexPoint Media, a political ad agency run by former Republican operatives. Unlike traditional TV ads, CTV ads are highly unregulated and can be narrowly targeted by households, giving campaigns more options to target voters based on their interests, rather than just age and gender demographics.”

For a long time, political advertisers lagged behind the market when it came to digital media. Clearly, that flipped during the Obama, and certainly Trump, years. So does this cookie spending to CTV spending tell us where the rest of the web is headed — given how fixated politics has been on one-to-one targeting?

Always Pay Retail

If you weren‘t sure yet whether 2021 was the year of retail media, the evidence continues to pile up. Lowe‘s is the latest data-rich brand to jump into the ads business, reported Business Insider. The company‘s motivation was summed up well by BI‘s Tanya Dua, who tweeted: Are you wondering why every company/retailer seems to be launching an ad business these days? It‘s because many of them have a treasure trove of first-party data, which is extremely valuable to advertisers as third-party data is deprecated due to changing ad targeting practices.

It‘s not just Lowe‘s looking to compete with Home Depot and Amazon; DoorDash is also jumping in, going after Instacart and others.

“With its new ad products, DoorDash is pitching advertisers on data about its 20 million monthly users like what restaurants people order from and whether they are a first-time or repeat DoorDash user. For example, Burger King can‘t target ads at McDonald‘s customers but can target people who like fast food, said Toby Espinosa, VP of ads at DoorDash.”

This all makes sense given that ad money is nearly akin to found money for digital retailers. Brands like Sabra are calling retail media their “number one investment,” reported Digiday. But at a certain point, you have to wonder when lots of options turn into ad buyers screaming out for consolidation.

You also have to wonder if, at a certain point, brands start to question the deal they are getting on retailer sites that sell their own stuff, particularly in light of the report released this week accusing Amazon of putting the thumb on the scale for its own brands.

I Broke Up with You Before You Could Dump Me

One of the great unspoken powers of Facebook has been the sharing of the back end. Meaning, not only does the social networking behemoth own Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp, the company also combines all of the ad targeting data, research and execution into a single platform for FB and IG. This has allowed brands to run campaigns seamlessly using signals from both apps, counting someone with a Facebook and Instagram account as one person — even if their accounts weren‘t officially linked up.

This superpower is also often cited as a reason that regulators might someday want to make Facebook “break up” — either by forcing it to spin off IG or WhatsApp or through some other kind of anti-trust action. So perhaps as a step to show they get it, Facebook is letting brands employ distinct audience ID for Facebook and IG, reported Morning Brew.

“Why the change? Facebook can tell which direction the wind is blowing.

‘This update aligns with trends of offering people more control over how their information is used for ads and is consistent with evolving advertising, privacy, and regulatory environments,‘ wrote Facebook‘s VP of product marketing, Graham Mudd.”

Sounds like this is probably the “right” thing to do and could potentially blunt Facebook‘s duopolistic power. But at the same time, it probably makes life harder for brands who care about privacy but really like efficient data-driven mass scale campaigns that work.

That‘s a lot to digest. We‘ll see you next time.