What does a marketing world look like where account-based marketing and privacy legislation can co-exist in harmony? We are not sure yet, but we can prepare by delivering high-quality content that target accounts will opt-in to receive. Of course, that is a simplification of the situation. Jeff White and Carman Pirie dive into the details of the imminent collision of these two trends on our 200th episode of The Kula Ring. From cookies to content-gating—learn how you can prepare when you listen to this podcast.
Privacy Meets Account-Based Marketing: Are There Too Many Hands In The Cookie Jar? Transcript:
Announcer: You’re listening to The Kula Ring, a podcast made for manufacturing marketers. Here are Carman Pirie and Jeff White.
Jeff White: Welcome to The Kula Ring, a podcast for manufacturing marketers brought to you by Kula Partners. My name is Jeff White and joining me today is Carman Pirie. Carman, how you doing, sir?
Carman Pirie: I am happy to be here. How are you doing?
Jeff White: I’m doing great. I’m doing great.
Carman Pirie: Nice. Yeah. Look, another episode where you and I are going to go otherwise guest-free, I suppose. I could play the guest. You could play the guest on this one maybe.
Jeff White: Sure. I’ll play the guest.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. But look, I think it’s a really, really important topic that we’re looking to cover today because there’s no question in the world of B2B marketing overall, and certainly manufacturing marketing in a B2B context, account-based marketing, delivering account-based experiences, account-based advertising, et cetera, it’s as hot as it could ever be.
Jeff White: Absolutely. And you could include sales enablement and other marketing automation technologies in that same kind of tech stack bucket of things that are essential to do manufacturing marketing in 2022 and beyond.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. And I think as people are looking, as they start to make investments in that area, and build out skillsets, et cetera, there’s a kind of a parallel thing happening in the realm of privacy and the impact of privacy legislation, various jurisdictions around the world, and what does that mean for marketers for our ability to target, and retarget, and otherwise connect with our target audience? And it’s a change that’s coming and you can’t… If people aren’t connecting these two dots, they need to be.
Jeff White: Yeah. I think one of the biggest problems is that this is on the radar of certain marketers that are out there and it’s certainly on the radar of the privacy community and the infosec community and those groups.
Carman Pirie: And the ABM tech people are certainly-
Jeff White: I think they’re aware of it and they’re planning for it because-
Carman Pirie: Or it’s keeping them up at night, you know?
Jeff White: And we’ll paint the picture of why in a moment, but you know, I think the general consumer, and I include in that kind of people within organizations like manufacturing, aren’t necessarily aware of what’s going on under the surface to enable some of these technologies that we have access to for the kinds of targeting that we want to be able to do to be able to go down to an account level and provide a certain type of ad experience. There’s some stuff going on there that if you knew, you may not support it.
Carman Pirie: Okay. Well, look. Let’s talk about that really briefly. Let’s talk about I guess if you could explain to our listeners then kind of what is the current state of affairs? How does this stuff work today? How does ABA work? Intent data, et cetera? How does that… What’s that landscape from a privacy and permissions perspective today?
Jeff White: Sure. So, I think before you kind of get into the specific technologies like intent data or account-based advertising you need to understand what cookies are, and we all know now what cookies are thanks to GDPR, which was the European sanctions that basically limited the amount of information that you could track without permission. This is why we have popups on every single site asking you to enable cookies, or just letting you know that hey, cookies are happening whether you enable them or not, and whether or not those things are within the viewpoint of following those laws or not, I’m not 100% sure. But you know, people are aware that cookies are happening, I think.
What people may not realize is that there are different types of cookies. So, when you go and you visit a website, that website can collect data about you. They know where you’re coming from, what your IP address is, what browser you’re using. They may be able to cross-reference that information against other information that they gleaned from another site and figure out who that company is. This is Kula Partners. I know that because this IP address has been registered to other sites that have tracked that information and I can look up against that. And it’s that third-party lookup that really is impacting where privacy is going today.
So, if you are using data that is coming from other sources, third parties, so ad tracking pixels on a website that are not native to that site itself, so that could be Google’s pixel for tracking. It could be HubSpot. It could be any number of tools that are tracking data across numerous platforms and numerous sites. It’s those third-party cookies that they’re looking to get rid of and in some cases that’s already started to happen. Apple has come out at the forefront of this from a privacy perspective and said, “We’re not going to allow third-party cookies by default. You can turn them back on if you wish to be tracked.” But by default, in Safari on iOS devices and Safari on the Mac, you’re not going to be tracked.
Firefox has also come out with a slightly less toothy version of that, but overall, they are certainly trending in that direction, as well, and those would be the number two and three browsers after Chrome, which of course is owned by Google. And Google’s revenue, as we all know, is from ads. It’s not even so much the products that you might pay for, like Google Docs and things like that. It’s really advertising that makes most of the money for Alphabet, the parent company of Google.
So, they have been on a path to also remove third-party cookies, but they’ve been reticent, of course, because this is their primary revenue stream, so they need to figure out a solution that is different from third-party cookies. And for a while there they were saying that they would have that solution implemented by this year. They originally said this in 2019. It’s 2022 right now. They said it would be implemented now. Now, here we are in Q3 2022, and they’ve pushed it out again to 2024. What they were talking about moving from is third-party cookies where you’re tracking things across multiple sites, they’re moving to something they called a privacy sandbox and within that privacy sandbox there was a federated learning of cohorts, so basically software that would figure out what cohorts you belong to, what your interests are, where you work, all of that kind of thing.
And that was known as FLoC. Well, the Electronic Frontiers Foundation, a big privacy advocate in the U.S., came out and said this is basically behavioral credit scoring, and it’s no better. In fact, it may be worse than third-party cookies in terms of the private data it collects on you. So, they’ve pushed back against that, and Google has said, “Okay, we’re gonna put FLoC to bed now but we’re gonna need two more years to figure this out, so we’re gonna keep running third-party cookies for now, okay?” And now they’re working on something called Topics, where basically they’ll figure out what things you’re interested in in some other way and make it separate from the personal identifying data.
Carman Pirie: Right.
Jeff White: That’s the whole intent here.
Carman Pirie: So, it’s like basically can we change it and not fundamentally change the output at all. Can we build something that makes it sound like we changed it, but we still get all the same benefit?
Jeff White: Pretty much.
Carman Pirie: Is where they’re almost trying to get to.
Jeff White: Yeah. And if you look at what Gartner and others are talking about in terms of where this needs to go in order to get to a place where there still is web-based or digital advertising that has benefit to the buyers of such advertising, so the ability to target by interest and by intent or what have you, and really what they’re talking about is owned data. It’s funny, because you and I have been talking about having your own digital home in some way, shape, or form, not in relation to this, but in terms of not basing your platform on Facebook for your content.
Carman Pirie: Owned media versus social or paid media, et cetera. Yes.
Jeff White: Exactly. So, you know, this is what they’re suggesting the move is going to, so first of all you really want to ensure that you’re collecting good data that is first-person data. So, first-person cookies, basically, or first-party cookies rather, and that means that anybody that visits your site you should be trying to engage with them in some way, shape, or form, to get more information to enrich that data profile, because you can capture that information for yourself.
So, using that to potentially illuminate more potential buyers who might be a little bit more up funnel, you’re probably going to need to do that on your own site. Maybe that means capturing, putting out more content that is going to capture email addresses.
Carman Pirie: Right, right.
Jeff White: Building profiles like that and integrating that with your CRM, of course, so that any data that you have there and on existing customers who have purchased things on your site, and this will all allow you to be able to have better quality first-party data and then using things like surveys and other things like that, to get more qualitative information to add to that. So, once you have that, then what can you do with that?
Well, currently the thinking is that there will become ways to merge that data with a publisher’s data. So, perhaps it’s a site related to your industry where a lot of content is published.
Carman Pirie: Maybe it’s Google.
Jeff White: Or maybe it’s Google, because Google is its own walled-garden. Even though people use Google as a jumping off point to other places, they are allowed to capture where you go from your click on their search engine results page, whether that’s an ad or anything else. If they own that property, they can collect that data. Well, there will become ways to interface your data with their data and then target the specific accounts from your own data while anonymizing the information you get back from the second party, Google.
Carman Pirie: Your data and the publisher’s data, use that to triangulate against the target in a way that doesn’t enrich your first-party data, but accomplishes your targeting objectives.
Jeff White: Exactly. It may become harder to personalize the experience once that person arrives at your site, and you may need to kind of figure that out over time and begin to do that innovative individual recognizance. That’s what you’re going to have to work towards to get this to truly have kind of the level that we have now, where we can say with cookies and with IP-based detection and various tools like Demandbase, or Terminus, or 6sense, or what have you, we can generally say if I want to target Coca-Cola I can probably get an ad in there that is going to be reasonably close to the target that I’m going for.
That’s gonna become a little bit harder, especially for smaller organizations that may not have the traffic to build good quality first-party data. So, that’s going to become kind of the issue that CRO was for sites without a lot of juice, you know?
Carman Pirie: Right, right.
Jeff White: You can’t get enough people to actually see trends.
Carman Pirie: Man, I just want to kind of… It’s interesting just to recap a bit of this landscape when we think about… We don’t know where we’re going to end up. We don’t know the final solution that Google will end up implementing as a result of all of this.
Jeff White: Or how long it takes to get there.
Carman Pirie: Right, so there’s the dog ate my homework, we gotta go back to the drawing board. That’s already happened once. Who’s to say that may not happen again? There could be lots of pivots along the way. I think it’s just important to note it’s just something, it’s an unknown. And it would be a fool’s errand to probably try to predict in some ways exactly how that’s gonna function.
Jeff White: But I think you could predict that people are going to push to greater private data.
Carman Pirie: That trend is clear. Yes. Yes. Yeah. But just how Google will eventually end up responding to that in a way that is officially permitted remains to be seen. And then the how the first-party and publisher data will come together and allow you to execute more targeted campaigns, that, as you just said, it still hasn’t been built yet. It’s supposed that those things will exist, but they don’t exist now.
Jeff White: Sure. I think you can see a bit of the path ahead if you look at the way pay-per-click is looking now, where they’re beginning to lose some of that data because they can’t collect as much as they once could because of GDPR and other things, as well as private browsers, which are still 20-plus percent of the market are Safari and Firefox combined, so especially no mobile.
Carman Pirie: Indeed. Yeah.
Jeff White: There’s more people on mobile on Safari than on Android in terms of using the web. But you can currently use a bit more AI predictiveness within PPC advertising to choose who you’re serving the ad to and what you’re saying. So, that’s kind of where it’s being suggested that no, we won’t be able to target your specific accounts if we can’t integrate your first-party data or if you don’t have enough, but we can tell you based on topics or whatever, kind of we can let the AI choose but not give you direct access to it kind of thing.
So, there are probably solutions that are machine learning oriented that we don’t yet understand that could impact this and kind of provide a privacy layer in between by using some form of obfuscation, but it’s hard to know what that looks like. But I think you can kind of see a bit of what’s to come from the PPC side right now in terms of what’s happening there.
Carman Pirie: That’s interesting. Okay, okay, so I’m trying to think of what else is kind of the ‘so what’ of this, right? One thing that seems to me just jumps out is now that we have this extension, marketers can breathe a bit of a sigh of relief for the next couple of years, but we know that if you’re trying to be the type of person that plans ahead at all, which let’s hope our listeners are those people, then it seems to me that you’re really in a two to three year race to collect as much first-party data as possible while you still have a bit more data collection options than you might have in the future. Does that make sense?
Jeff White: Absolutely. And you’re going to need to think about why organizations would want to come to your site in order to do it, because you need to get them there in order to generate this data, so what’s the draw? I suppose if you’re one of any of the number of amazing guests that we’ve had on this show in terms of the top tier companies, Rockwell, and Schneider, and TE, and GE, and those—you are a destination already. What if you’re not and you’re a smaller manufacturer in a very niche category? How are you going to create something that will be enough of a draw to balance out when the paid media maybe isn’t bringing in quite what it once was?
Carman Pirie: It seems like it’s really what you seem to be suggesting is that I don’t know if we could say that content marketing ever kind of ebbs and flows. It seems like it’s just been a constant bit of enthusiasm around content marketing, but it’s certainly not a new idea now, but it seems like you might be suggesting we’re breathing some new life into the notion of content marketing. I mean, if we gotta get people to a site to experience something, well, what they’re experiencing is inevitably content of some description.
Jeff White: Yeah. Absolutely. And what form that takes, you’re gonna need to understand your audience. Does that end up being video? Are you doing a podcast? Are you writing more papers? Are you making your product 3D models available on your site to be downloaded? All of those kinds of things.
Carman Pirie: And an emphasis on organic distribution of that content because you’re not going to potentially be able to rely on paid as much in the future.
Jeff White: No, no. You might need to leverage social in certain ways to get the word out and all of that, and provide value through those channels too, but yeah, you’re going to have to build a destination. And then you’re going to really need to forge alliances with the developed communities, the quality communities where the signal is a lot greater than the noise. So, I could see industry organizations, the publications that support different niches and industries, these are a potential opportunity for them, as well, to create a very unique product because I think the future may end up being rather than doing large media buys through central locations, you’ll be doing media buys through individual publishing and community sites. And targeting those specifically because you know that your users are there.
Carman Pirie: It’s interesting to think of this through the lens, of course, like industry trade publications that have an online version which is inevitably a crappy website that gets just inflated user traffic stats pumped out to try to drive more media spend. If you get people that kind of get that kind of business model out of their head and understand that if we develop an audience here, that we’re gonna have maybe a different way of monetizing it than we had before, that’s interesting. It might be a bit of a serious opportunity for those trade pubs to actually make the digital presence a real thing.
Jeff White: Yeah. Because what else are they going to do? You know, I mean people will continue to advertise in their print publications for some time, I’m sure. I mean, the death of everything was overpredicted, I think, but it’s going to be-
Carman Pirie: It’s a hard game.
Jeff White: Yeah.
Carman Pirie: Tough racket. A tough racket.
Jeff White: Yeah. It is a tough racket. I think you will probably continue to see more consolidation in that space as publishers look to get more of their own first-party data, so that’s not necessarily a positive.
Carman Pirie: That makes sense, though. I mean, the data becomes the value, really.
Jeff White: Yeah. I think so. And I think just like people demand to be sold to in a way that is as good an experience as it is on the consumer side, they’re going to demand a level of privacy in their business relationships that they expect in their personal relationships. And it’s interesting, a corollary to this would be email software, so sales enablement email software, not like Mailchimp type thing. But a couple years ago there was a company called Superhuman that came out with email tracking features that are not dissimilar to what was in HubSpot and any number of other mail tracking tools that showed you when your recipient opened the email. It showed you where they were when they opened that. It showed you what email client they were using, and what device, and all that.
We had that feature up to that point for years with HubSpot and others, but once it came out at a consumer level and people who were just Gmail subscribers could put it in, not like a tool like HubSpot that costs hundreds of dollars a month that’s only going to be used “for good” by businesses.
Carman Pirie: Right. Yes.
Jeff White: All of a sudden it’s used now by anybody, to track anybody. Well, all of a sudden people are completely livid about this, and rightly so. This is private information that it’s giving out. And interestingly, all of those features evaporated from all the other tools at the same time very quietly, as well. And I think you’re seeing now with email enablement and sales enablement tools like that a diminishing usefulness due to bad data. I mean, how many times have you seen immediate opens on sending a HubSpot tracked email or something like that that, you know, are very obviously not happening. All of those kinds of things.
So, I think a lot of those tools are going to start to have to change, as well, because it will become-
Carman Pirie: They become less reliable, so then… Yeah.
Jeff White: And as more organizations start to put in place measures that make them—yes, it makes them unreliable, but it also—there will be places where you can’t send a tracked email.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. Absolutely. Since we’re connecting to email, let’s start there, and I’ve got one other kind of comment around content. But on the email front, I guess one of the similarities I think here is that we saw it when all of the GDPR, and all of that legislation started happening, and here in Canada it was CASL, so you needed to have an opt-in email list. You couldn’t just SPAM people. Things like that. And you know, it was at that point where somebody like Seth Godin looks really, really damn smart, right? Because he said for a decade or more before that, way more than a decade before that I think, he was like, an opt-in email list that people want to receive is…
Jeff White: Community is consent.
Carman Pirie: … is the asset that keeps on giving. And in that moment it’s like people, I know organizations that had lists that they were just regularly spamming, totally not opt-in, and you know, they were shaking money out of the tree. There was a reason they were doing it, right? And that quick money goes away and the people that were patient and built the asset over time continued to reap the rewards. And here we have it again with first-party data, right? The companies that have invested five, 10, 15 years ago in understanding the customer data model, building it out, connecting it to their target niches, et cetera, and really investing in that long before people even understood why they were, well, those are the people that are gonna really succeed. But they’re still few and far between. There’s a handful of them in any category if that.
So, it’s interesting to me, that parallel between email and privacy changes there versus now what we’re seeing at the account level, basically.
Jeff White: Yeah. For sure. And it’s gonna change the available properties. What’s worth buying now? Will Facebook ads still make sense for some organizations? Maybe.
Carman Pirie: Right, right.
Jeff White: Will organizations like Amazon, who have a massive walled-garden of data, and to their credit, you can’t buy that data. It’s only for them to use. But they have the ability to kind of leverage what they have and what they know in an online eCommerce situation—it’s pretty incredible what they’ve built.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. Yeah. And you don’t have to be particularly imaginative to start spinning on where that could go.
Jeff White: Yeah. Exactly. Their dominance just becomes even greater. But I think it’s up in the air a bit as to whether or not this is a successful thing for Google, and for Meta, and others.
Carman Pirie: Fair.
Jeff White: But I think Amazon wins no matter what.
Carman Pirie: The last kind of piece I wanted to cover, it’s just interesting, there’s been a big movement of late frankly largely driven by account-based approaches that said, “You know what? You don’t need to gate your content.” In fact, you can ungate content, have your target accounts interact with that content, and you’ll frankly know when they are, and then you can evolve your marketing and communications approach to that target prospect accordingly. And also, whether it’s just trying to drive people to consume more content, taking the friction away, and trying to get them to convert by other means, basically. So, that’s been the trend for the last… What? Would you say five years even? Maybe more. I don’t know.
Jeff White: I think so. I think people started talking… Yeah. I mean, there were always detractors from the idea of that inbound conversion, top of funnel, middle of funnel, so I think people have been talking about it for a while, but there’s been a real push in the last couple of years to-
Carman Pirie: Yeah. I mean, 10 years ago you would have never heard HubSpot suggesting not to gate content, but then-
Jeff White: No.
Carman Pirie: At a certain point they were saying, “You know what? Yeah. You don’t need to gate everything.” And so, there was a change. There’s no question. I guess where I’m going with this is I wonder if this pushes us back the other way a bit. It probably says if you’re gonna drive a significant audience to your site, the quality of content is going to have to increase substantially. But maybe there’s because of the data collection desires, maybe you end up gating more of it. I don’t know. I’m curious. Tell me if I’m right or wrong there.
Jeff White: I think you’re both.
Carman Pirie: That means I win, so that’s good.
Jeff White: I suppose. I mean, from do we need to gate more content, maybe. Do we need to gate different content? Absolutely. Maybe there’s a different strategy employed where you get the long-tail out of content by having it freely available after a certain period of time, but new things are gated for a while. There’s a lot of different ways you can kind of think about how to collect some-
Carman Pirie: There’s a variety of approaches there. It’s more just like will there be more pressure to do it or not?
Jeff White: Yeah. But I think there will still be benefit to having content outside of your own citadel, fortress somewhat, because you’re going to need that in order to generate that organic interest. So, you’re going to have to take a multipronged approach to it and maybe you choose what to gate and what not to gate, and maybe things that get gated are more high value, like a model, or CAD file, or a spec sheet, or something like that, but the whitepapers and things are more open, and longform, and linking into lots of those different assets and resources. So, I think there’s probably a few ways that you’re gonna do that.
But yeah, you’re gonna need to start capturing some of that information and I think-
Carman Pirie: Capturing it in a way that can be frankly organized, repurposed, and is useful. I mean, this is not something that a lot of marketing organizations have tackled in a sophisticated way.
Jeff White: No, no. And simply adding more fields to your contact forms is not necessarily a recipe for having data that you can slice and dice.
Carman Pirie: Yeah. That’s not it. Not exactly the road we’re talking about. Look, this has been fascinating. I guess thank you for letting me kind of pick your brain on this because I think it’s a huge change that’s coming and I think it’s just really helpful, I think, for manufacturing marketers to kind of have some insight into it and to be aware of it. Yeah.
Jeff White: Yeah. For sure. I think it’s probably gonna get a little more difficult.
Carman Pirie: Yeah.
Jeff White: Until we figure out what the path is, and certain things aren’t going to be available that once were.
Carman Pirie: Indeed.
Jeff White: Been fun. Thanks.
Carman Pirie: And then there’ll be something else changing.
Jeff White: Oh, exactly. Exactly right.
Carman Pirie: All right. Cheers, mate.
Jeff White: Cheers.
Announcer: Thanks for listening to The Kula Ring, with Carman Pirie and Jeff White. Don’t miss a single manufacturing marketing insight. Subscribe now at kulapartners.com/thekularing. That’s K-U-L-Apartners.com/thekularing.
Carman Pirie & Jeff WhitePrincipals at Kula Partners
At Kula Partners, Carman serves as lead marketing and sales counsel to the firm’s diverse range of North American manufacturing clients. His unique insights and distaste for the ordinary have earned him a Gold Award for Media Innovation from Marketing Magazine and Kula Partners—Canada’s first Platinum HubSpot agency—has been recognized as a top lead generator among HubSpot partners. A User Experience (UX) and usability expert, Jeff began building sites for the web over 25 years ago. He leads the design and development practice at Kula Partners, Canada’s first Platinum HubSpot Partner agency. A passionate advocate for usability and an open web that is accessible to everyone, Jeff frequently speaks on web design, usability, accessibility, marketing and sales at events such as HubSpot’s Inbound conference.