Unlocking the power of data: how marketers can thrive in a privacy-first world

Ross Candido
By Ross Candido | 19 May 2023
Ross Candido.

Ross Candido, VP ANZ and SEA, Meltwater

The free-for-all data era is ending. Increasing privacy legislation, consumer data protection and the end of cookies are creating a new environment, where businesses must strike a careful balancing act between protecting individuals’ privacy rights and extracting valuable insights from data.

Shifting sands of privacy

Social media has already had a significant impact on privacy legislation.

To check the power of commercial organisations that hold data on hundreds of millions of users, governments around the world have rushed to give consumers more privacy rights while regulating how data can be collected, stored and used.

Many business models that have so far been solely built on sharing and distributing data are having to rethink their approach. The cookie is crumbling: Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox already block third party cookies, and Google will depreciate them in 2024.

The reality is hosting private data comes with significant risks, and marketers must shift and adapt their strategies for gathering consumer intelligence. To do so, they can embrace new approaches such as consent-based data collection, where consumers explicitly agree to share information in return for some kind of benefit, such as personalisation. Additionally, third-party data providers may offer data on specific demographics or behaviours, and as contextual advertising gains momentum, ads will increasingly be aligned with the content of a web page or app.

Above all, marketers will need to reevaluate how they collect first party data directly from their own customers and website visitors, and how they can effectively combine this with social listening data insights to effectively engage with their audiences.

The one overwhelming positive is marketers in nature have to be agile, and consider new opportunities with technology to compete for consumer engagement. 

Changing wave of consent

Social media listening will be a key catalyst for driving new data approaches and the next frontier to hone in on content that resonates and aligns with sales metrics.

Social media has already rocketed in importance when it comes to brand discovery, with more and more people turning to social platforms to find information and discover new things. The average internet user spends two and a half hours every day using social media. Social is the second highest internet service used after chat/messaging, higher even than search engines.

Ads on social media are now the fourth biggest channel for discovery, nearly as influential as TV advertising (27% vs 30%), according to the Meltwater Digital Trends report 2023. Recommendations and comments on social media are also extremely powerful, with more than one in five internet users (22%) discovering new brands, products and services through them. For example, 91% of luxury fashion netizens make purchases influenced by social media.

Critically, social media is real-time, compared to cookies which are historical data and can quickly become stale. Instead of effectively "looking in the rear view mirror", brands can listen into current, evolving streams of information and get valuable insights into what consumers are thinking.

Brands need to look at public data through social media intelligence tools to gain insights on their customers and understand key opinion leaders in their industry. Through demographic analysis of the audience of these opinion leaders they can get a much better understanding of their target market, produce more effective content, be more agile and connect with potential customers in a far more engaging way.

The need for a powerful platform

The sheer volume of data flowing through social media, as well as the increasing fragmentation in terms of channels (the average netizen uses seven different platforms each month) is beyond the capacity of brands to analyse through traditional methods. Having the right enterprise software solution to track data outside of their brand is vital. This will generate actionable insights, revealing key themes, customer behaviour trends and key opinion leader interests. For example, marketers can search and sort by top engaging posts in their industry, combine this with data from influencers to find out who is the most engaged in a particular topic and dive into who their audience are. This data can inform product development and target markets a brand wouldn’t otherwise have targeted.

For example, Pernod Ricard revived its iconic Chivas brand after discovering how it resonated with the hip-hop community by implementing Meltwater’s social intelligence insights, and created specific activations targeting this community, which resulted in double-digit annual growth of the brand.

Large Language Models will- also offer a further transformative opportunity in Social Listening and Traditional Media Monitoring with its contextual understanding. LLMs can comprehend and interpret the nuances of language, including sentiment analysis, entity recognition, and topic extraction. This enables more accurate and insightful monitoring of media content, allowing organisations to gain a deeper understanding of public sentiment, emerging trends, and relevant discussions without the need for tags, or Boolean Logic.

Social media has evolved from predominantly connecting with family and friends to a more personalised experience, and it should now be a key strategic focus for marketers as a rich dataset that’s essential for capturing consumer attention, building trust, and loyalty.

Brands that can successfully mine social listening for insights will be able to bring users together in a shared act of discovery, as a collaborative process, and make online consumers feel like they’re stumbling upon serendipitous discoveries.

comments powered by Disqus