INside Performance Marketing

Q&A: Tom Rolph on Performance Marketing in EMEA, GDPR and Why Cookies Aren’t Dead

'While it [the cookie] may not be dead, it is certainly true that as an industry we’ve long been over-reliant on its use.'

Europe, the Middle East and Africa - often abbreviated to EMEA - is a key region in the performance marketing industry. What are the key current trends there? Tom Rolph, VP, Europe at cross-device marketing solution company Tapad, talks about cross-device, data and attribution in EMEA.

As Tapad's VP in EMEA, could you tell us about cross-device targeting in the region?

Tom Rolph: We’re seeing real growth in cross-device across EMEA. Brand's first-party data is its most valuable asset and the growth of cross-device is being triggered by many brands’ desires to amplify this audience and reach it across all their devices.

To understand the user journey and underlying consumer behaviour in this way is hugely compelling for any brand. However, it’s fair to say there are different levels of cross-device maturity across the ecosystem – from brands, publishers, agencies, as well as the broader ad and mar tech worlds. For example, the ad tech and mar tech players have been the earliest to recognise the value of a device graph – this is now spreading into the brand space.

There’s much less cross-device usage in terms of identity for media execution in EMEA versus North America, but we’re slowly starting to see adoption here now, too. For some, cross-device is already the default when running media campaigns, while it is an education piece for others.

Despite market saturation in mobile – and its established position in EMEA as consumers’ first screen – we’re still seeing an increase in new devices such as TVs and other connected devices, adding further complication for marketers trying to target their audiences effectively.

Another trend is the increased number of devices used when researching, rather than purchasing new products. Similarly, the number of times consumers are switching from screen to screen throughout the day is increasing, whether that’s to check emails during a TV ad break or to complete a purchase.

And what are the biggest challenges for marketers in the EMEA region?

TR: As consumer behaviour across devices becomes more complex, some marketers in the region are struggling to reach their audiences effectively. Cross-device is still in the initial adoption stage and we’re focusing on educating the industry on how to best use the data marketers now have at their fingertips.

I think portability of data is one of the biggest challenges for marketers. There are so many walled gardens out there, but if a brand invests in working with them, then they’re tied in. Brands want to be able to use their first-party data across the entire ecosystem. They don’t want to be hamstrung and tied to one partner.

Other challenges are measurement and attribution. Too many clients are still using last click attribution, but with cookieless tracking and the ability to see the entire consumer journey across multiple devices, it doesn’t make sense to continue to rely on last click alone. We have so many clients come to us and say, “We know mobile plays a much bigger role than it gets credit for. Can you help us understand the relationship between mobile and desktop?”

Smartphones are becoming the pre-eminent device during the research process and it’s now possible to understand increasingly complex journeys from research to purchase across different screens and browsers.

Speaking of data, GDPR is coming into force in less than a year. How do you think the new regulations will impact Europe?

TR: It’s going to shake up the market and the concern is that too many organisations are not fully aware of the risks of non-compliance and subsequent fines, which stand at 4% of revenues – potentially massive in the event of any breach.

At Tapad, as we’re owned by a European telco, we’ve already put in place several initiatives to ensure we’re abiding by the current consent and opt out policies required by GDPR. We also have ten data privacy officers working on this, as compliance is a top priority for both Tapad and our parent company, Telenor.

Is it the end of the cookie?  

TR: There’s been a lot of talk lately about the demise of the cookie, and while it may not be dead, it is certainly true that as an industry we’ve long been over-reliant on its use – hence the recent regulatory changes have been no bad thing in accelerating the pace of change.

Thankfully we are no longer solely reliant on cookies today. They are an easy data signature, but it is not the only identifier; mobile IDs are another example that can be used to improve data measurement processes. However, it is important that you use a common identifier as a proxy to be able to associate all other identifiers to it.

And give the current data climate, what are the biggest opportunities for marketers?

TR: With 75% of consumers now using more than one digital device, and as the proliferation continues, the biggest opportunity today is garnering a true understanding of consumer identity across each of these devices. New data regulations invariably create new challenges for marketers, but they can also be instructive in ensuring that marketers prioritise relevance and contextualisation in their efforts.

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Monika Komar

Monika Komar

A News and Features Reporter at PerformanceIN, Monika covers stories and developments in the fast-evolving world of performance marketing.

Monika studied Modern Languages at the University of Southampton and worked in marketing and communications before making her way over to PerformanceIN.   

Read more from Monika

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