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HomeOPINIONThinking digital first: Why SMEs need to move now to combat changing identity solutions

Thinking digital first: Why SMEs need to move now to combat changing identity solutions

The recent changes to the advertising landscape have caused many New Zealand SMEs to worry about their identity solutions. Here, Verizon Media’s New Zealand Sales Director Arnaud Calonne, gives us insight into what will be the new normal, and what it will mean for small businesses.

Disclaimer: This article is not representative of Verizon Media but is the personal opinion of the author.


Google has made it official, it will not allow or support third party identifiers to be integrated with its own ad stack. A bombshell for some and blissful ignorance for others. For some time now, consumers haven’t been quite sure how their data is being used to create the personalised ads they see, and let’s face it, we have been in the dark about our data privacy for too long. The abundance of invisible tracking mechanisms and third-party data transactions have triggered consumer mistrust.

If you don’t agree with that statement, ask yourself this simple question; Do I know how my data is being used? Most of us won’t have a clue. User privacy concerns have sounded the alarm for change, challenging advertisers to capture identity data in a more transparent way.

The importance of identity

Governments across the world have started to take action to regulate this space forcing Adtech companies to review the way they operate and address consumers’ privacy. Think about new legislations like the GDPR in Europe and the CCPA in California or closer to home, our new Privacy Act. Even if the NZ Privacy Act is not yet directly addressing those issues, it is a start in the right direction.

Apple and Mozilla were the first browsers to address users’ privacy by banning third-party cookie tracking. Google has announced that it will follow suit at the beginning of 2022 with its Chrome browser.

Now, what do all those changes mean for small and medium size businesses? Are they likely to start using FB and Google less or more? Are they likely to reduce their digital spend as a result or maybe invest more into Search?

I myself was once the owner of a small eCommerce business in New Zealand and like a lot of SMBs, my media buying strategy was not overly sophisticated. I spent a lot of my time trying to invest my limited marketing budget efficiently on Search, Display, and Native advertising whilst also trying to get people to buy my products once they had visited my site; or to subscribe to my newsletter.

Remarketing was my best hope of converting potential customers.

Most small businesses and medium businesses don’t have the resources to employ a full time marketing team to deploy a sophisticated marketing strategy, and breakdown the customer journey from the “awareness” stage (when they first learn about your business) to the “purchase” stage (when they’re ready to buy your product or service).

Unless you are Superman, you neither have the time, resources nor necessary investment to address the full funnel approach. Let alone execute your media buying strategy, whilst also having a clear understanding of your ROI.

The most sophisticated strategy to get people to purchase products on my website, was to retarget engaged consumers that were browsing products and to re-engage with them on a monthly basis via my newsletter or social page.

Arnaud Calonne, Verizon Media New Zealand Sales Director

Remarketing or retargeting consumers will stay the best solution for small and medium businesses to convert potential customers, but this will only be available within the walls of Google and Facebook. Unless of course you start looking at other identity solutions allowing you to address the open web.

Marketers will be forced to conduct measurement in silos depending on the channel or device they’re activating, and won’t fully understand the customer journey or true ROAS.

At the other end, I believe small business owners will continue using FB and Google to reach their audiences with the hope of delivering real business outcomes. Their digital spend is likely to increase over the next few years as a result of the pandemic with more people spending and shopping online.

More so than before, SMB owners will need to think digital first and start addressing how they collect and use first party data.

React before impact

As a replacement for third party tracking cookies, Google is moving forward with its privacy Sandbox solution and is launching FLoC! It took me a little while to work out what Federated Learning of Cohorts meant but I got there in the end. Chrome is going to create multiple audiences/groups based on people’s browsing behaviours.

Will Facebook still be able to deliver personalised ads with IOS14 users? Yes, but to what level remains to be seen as they won’t be able to target users that opt out which is far from ideal for small businesses. Now, without permission for cross app tracking they won’t have a 360 degree view of the customer.

One thing is for certain, the Identity piece is going to reshape the face of the internet for good. The rise of privacy is for the better and here to stay, and all businesses no matter how small or large will have to adapt to thrive in this new environment.

Organisations like Manaaki are critical to enable small businesses to upskill and get support in an ever evolving digital ecosystem and I am proud that the business I work for is supporting their Small Business Day.

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