Experian’s Digital Future: Insights from Sarah Robertson on Cookies, Digital Linkage and AI

  • Posted by ajones@id5.io
  • On Jan 24, 2024

We are delighted to have Sarah Robertson from Experian Marketing Services in the UK join us on the ID5 blog as a guest contributor. Sarah will offer her insightful analysis, discussing recent developments at Experian and her expert outlook on the future trends in digital marketing.

Navigating the Post-Cookie Era

The impending deprecation of third-party cookies presents a significant challenge to the advertising and marketing industry, traditionally reliant on them for people-based advertising and digital identity. While Google’s decision to delay their removal until 2024 has offered some additional preparation time, the industry is actively seeking alternatives that preserve both scale and consumer privacy. A critical element of these solutions is the development of privacy-compliant, integrated approaches that move beyond the traditional cookie model. Collaboration is emerging as a fundamental strategy in this context. This shift involves a surge in collaborative data solutions among various industry players, focusing on holistic approaches that include the utilisation of first-party data. The future landscape will not rely on a singular alternative to third-party cookies; instead, it will depend on a diverse mix of strategies. These include the sharing of first-party data among organisations and establishing a framework that connects different data touchpoints. 

While the deprecation of third-party cookies marks a shift, the fundamental needs that drove their adoption – precise targeting and effective ad delivery – remain unchanged. In the cookieless future, the significance of Universal IDs, including the ID5 ID, becomes increasingly evident. Experian’s partnership with ID5 underlines our belief in the pivotal role of these IDs going forward. Experian launched Consumer Sync, a digital linkage solution, tailored to be interoperable and functional across various operating systems for both authenticated and unauthenticated users. This capability will help brands, agencies and publishers to operate effectively despite cookie-based signal loss.

Data Linkage and Scale with Consumer Sync

Consumer Sync, launched in September 2023 showcases our commitment to innovation in the UK market. This digital linkage capability integrates with our offline marketing data, which covers 95% of the UK population. Online to offline coverage is currently at an impressive 55% of UK households, we still expect to extend this reach to 75% by summer 2024. Consumer Sync stands out with its impressive scale of over 120 million biddable IDs, offering the added benefit of detailed insights and customer demographics, which are not typically provided by traditional linkage methods. 

Experian UK’s collaboration with ID5 extends to the utilisation of their cross-device graph technology. Consumer Sync aims to provide a scalable, future-facing solution enabling advertisers and agencies to reach wider audiences, both within their own domains and across the open web. To accomplish this, we sought a partner capable of blending our offline deterministic matching with a probabilistic graph at scale, while upholding stringent privacy standards. ID5’s solution fits this need, enabling the onboarding of first-party data into the digital ecosystem and ensuring audience reach across a variety of devices. Moreover, this partnership enhances the value of brand and publisher first-party data by augmenting it with Experian’s comprehensive and accurate syndicated audience data, ensuring greater relevance and personalisation for consumers.

The Future of Measurement and AI’s Rising Influence

As media becomes more fragmented, it becomes harder for advertisers to understand what is working with overlap across activity leaving in channel ROAS metrics overstating performance. For this reason, there will be an increased focus on detailed incrementality analysis, enabled by a blend of offline and online customer data. This comprehensive approach allows advertisers to assess the true incremental impact of their campaigns effectively.

It is not always possible to have consistent exposure data across all channels, therefore it is crucial to facilitate the creation and implementation of holdout groups. These groups can be more effectively defined by concentrating on detailed geographic and demographic characteristics, as opposed to the traditional method of utilising broad geographic areas. This refinement aids in obtaining a more precise understanding of campaign effectiveness.

By stitching together customer IDs across both offline and online spaces, we can create a more unified view of the customer journey. This integration allows for the tracking of customer experiences and interactions across diverse touchpoints. Moreover, it enables the linkage of campaign impacts to both offline and online sales for both the campaign and holdout groups.

As for the rising influence of AI, this has been a part of our technological landscape for some time, but its widespread use is becoming more prominent with the advent of cloud computing. This is making AI more accessible and will enable advertisers to generate performant audiences at scale. Whether through predictive machine learning or unsupervised learning, the creation of large consumer cohorts is now within reach. The success of these AI-driven methods hinges on correct training, ensuring they’re aligned with the desired outcomes. This evolution in AI application will hopefully shift the industry from broad, unreliable targeting methods to more precise, AI-utilised audience characteristics. This approach not only promises more effective audience segmentation but also opens new possibilities in creative development. By integrating these reliable audience insights into Generative AI (Gen AI) systems, we can foster more innovative and resonant advertising content, marking a significant step forward in our digital advertising strategies.

Sarah Robertson. Director of Product at Experian Marketing Services in the UK.

Having worked in the data driven marketing for over 20 years, I’ve seen our industry continue to evolve and I love working in such a forward-looking sector. I started my career working agency-side providing insight for large organisations then I moved to client-side enabling me to truly understand what makes an advertiser tick. Before moving into product for Experian 3 years ago, I spent several years pre and post sales consultancy on a variety of projects for advertisers.