Marketing in a pandemic | Data & technology infrastructure
23 July 2020

This article was authored by Miles Pritchard and Femi Taiwo.

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The Data Management Solutions team within OMD EMEA is a specialist team focussed on helping our clients to extract maximum value from their data assets by putting in place the correct processes, operating models and technology platforms. We believe the current crisis provides a unique opportunity for brands to review their data and technology infrastructure and to put in place the necessary steps to ensure they are set-up for recovery and for future growth.


Consumer behaviour trends such as increased online activity, more diversification in the use of devices, and a fundamentally different approach to media and content consumption through the day and week, has made it increasingly important for advertisers to leverage data to generate insights. With the generally negative economic outlook, in many respects it’s never been a more important time to collect consumer signals, to bring them together, and to apply them in media and communications to drive efficiency and effectiveness.


Notably, data and technology has formed a huge art of most governments’ policies across the world, whether through initially forecasting “the curve” or providing a technological solution to tracking proximity to infected persons. This, alongside a tenfold increase in other priorities has generally led to a softening in the position of most regulators with respects to enforcement of consumer privacy regulation, with the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) being delayed to 2021, and regulators across the EU seemingly taking a pragmatic approach. This could be a reprieve for those that have not yet established the correct practices with respects to compliance with privacy regulations, and a window of opportunity to act now.


An Opportune Time


We understand that many of our clients will be using this time to review their own operating models,
resource allocation, supply-chains and distribution on a weekly, if not a daily basis. Many will have paused, postponed, or downweighed their current and forecasted media investment, awaiting further clarity and certainty in the market. With the reduced noise given off by the hustle and bustle of campaign planning, creative approvals, media bookings, performance reviews etc. we truly believe that now could be the perfect opportunity to review data and technology infrastructure and work through some house- keeping initiatives that may have been left unattended in recent months.


We truly believe that in many respects adtech and martech has, and remains, in a continual state of disruption. Those operating in this area of the industry are familiar with the nature of the market and the fact that it can turn on a pin’s head. We maintain an agile mindset and are well-equipped to manage short-term disturbances, even turning them to our advantage. We are recommending a three-step approach to review, rebuild, and retain data and technology investments.


Review. Rebuild. Retain.


Data, and the application of data through integrated technology platforms, has become the lifeblood of addressable media and personalisation at scale. There is a clear and present need, therefore, for all advertisers to establish and clearly articulate a future-facing strategy with respects to their data strategy and technology infrastructure. We believe that during the current situation, this can be achieved by looking at three specific areas:


1 – Review


We believe that there is an opportunity during the current situation to review your core systems to ensure they are properly established to support a datadriven approach. This typically means reviewing (1) website performance; load times and page errors, meta data, data leakage and security measures, 3rd party tag deployment and data collection scripts. (2) consent management; implementation and configuration of a consent management platform, adoption of the IAB TCF V2.0 framework, and an objective assessment of privacy policies and cookie statements. And (3) campaign taxonomies and naming conventions, ensuring consistent and uniform nomenclature for campaigns to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of reporting and offsite data collection.


2 – Rebuild


Once you are confident on the nature of data collection across owned and operated properties, we recommend putting in place systems to organise, segment, analyse and distribute audience information for use and application within media and content decisioning. This typically requires a technology platform, such as a Data Management Platform, Customer Data Platform, Data Onboarding Platform etc. The type of solution that you require will depend largely on your needs, use cases, types of data you are collecting, and the places that you would like to distribute to. We can help to support the evaluation and selection of the right technology platform if you don’t currently have a solution in place.

Perhaps more important than selecting a platform though, is ensuring adoption of this type of solution once it is in place. We find that adtech and martech platforms require above average operational investment as a ratio of capital investment and recommend ensuring a ratio of at minimum 30-50% opex vs. capex to generate base-level results, and potentially higher than that to drive significant performance improvements. We have found, working with our clients, that if you are able to put the right solution in place, and operationally support it, systemic and scalable performance improvements can be generated.


3 – Retain 


One area of perpetual disruption in the adtech ecosystem has been identity, and the management of identity. Following Apple and Firefox’s redaction of 3rd party cookies, Google Chrome announced in January of this year that they would be following suit. This, coupled with Covid-19 where advertisers have seen lengthy delays between initial data collection and media activation, has focussed the mind on the need to better understand and develop a future-proof approach to identity.

The reality is that the 3rd party cookie has, for several years, been on the wane, in terms of both its prevalence and its application. With users spending more and more time on mobile devices and other connected devices that do not rely on cookies, and with the rise of ad blocking, private browsing, use of VPN, and other user-selected privacy measures, the 3rd party cookie has become less and less integral to datadriven advertising. For a long time, OMD EMEA has been working with clients to reduce reliance on the 3rd party cookie in favour of other more persistent identifiers such as mobile device ID and pseudonymised PII. We have worked with clients to put in place identity management solutions that transfer information from less stable identities i.e. the 3rd and 1st party cookie, to more stable and more portable identities. This means that data can be retained for longer and can be activated on-demand. Through these solutions we’ve helped advertisers to secure investment in data collection,
and cut the time and cost of “go live”.


As emphasised throughout, we believe that now is a critical time to review and rebuild your data architecture, and to establish processes to retain data and insight. Furthermore, we believe that for several reasons, the current situation actually a unique opportunity to do this. Our Data Management Solutions team is here to help support and answer questions you may have.



  • Digital acceleration caused by Covid-19 is further increasing the
    need for the right data & tech solutions
  • Things that do not get looked at due to the busyness of BAU can now
    be examined to optimise for increased efficiency & effectiveness
  • A three step approach :

– Ensure site performance, security and consumer consent. Deploy
data classification to tag and classify data attributes across
owned, earned and paid media
– Implement data management solutions to segment, analyse and
distribute audiences
– Begin ID management to hold retain information against more
persistent and diversified forms of identity, that can be activated at
a future date



Use the imperative & opportunity of the crisis to review current data & tech solutions to ensure great basics as well as longer term mitigation for identity ecosystem freefall

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