Are you data rich or are you data poor? This is one of the fundamental questions facing marketers amid one of the most disruptive periods ever for digital marketing and advertising.

But don’t assume that more is necessarily better.

The true test for marketers as they adapt to seismic changes such as the deprecation of third-party cookies, says Joshua Lowcock, President of Quad Media, is whether they are data rich in the right ways.

“What this really means is not ‘Do you have a lot of data?’” Lowcock told an audience of about 800 marketing professionals during a Quad-sponsored eMarketer webinar on March 26, “but whether your consumers feel comfortable enough to share their data with you, and whether you can manage the data minimization and compliance risks and costs that come with that.”

During the webinar, titled Building a resilient data strategy in a privacy-first world,” Lowcock highlighted the importance of trust and transparency in building that comfort level. The challenge is a moving target, as Congress considers the nationwide American Privacy Rights Act, more than 20 states are currently pondering new privacy laws — and Google, Meta, Apple and other tech giants face intensifying regulatory scrutiny from the U.S. Justice Department.

Lowcock cited a few startling statistics: 75% of marketers still rely on third-party cookies for collecting data about customers online, and of those, 20% say the death of the cookie will devastate their businesses.

“This means we really need to focus on finding a solution,” Lowcock said, “and as marketers, we need to become smarter in the way we think about using data and advertising and marketing overall.”

The solution lies in data resiliency, Lowcock said.

New sources for data in a cookieless world

A resilient data strategy is one that continues to deliver needed customer insights regardless of policy or technology changes by players such as Google, Meta and Apple, Lowcock said. And while the discussion of third-party cookies has dominated the data discussion, the challenges go deeper.

For instance, Lowcock said Quad anticipates rising challenges to the use of email as a customer identifier for finding audiences. Additionally, more than 20% of consumers now use some form of ad-blocking software. And relying on platforms, he continued, means you don’t control the ultimate destiny of your data. “The big platforms can be a dangerous place to play, because if regulators start breaking them up or changing the way they can and can’t or should share their data, you might find your whole data strategy unravel.”

Quad, which has relationships with more than 2,700 brands, sees household-oriented data, tied to your home address, as offering the best possible option in a cookieless world. “You only have one place you call home,” Lowcock said, “and ‘home’ gives you real insight into people. If you tell me where someone lives, I can tell you a lot about them.”

And, given that 70% of content is consumed at home and most purchases are made within a 20-minute drive, “At the end of the day, where people shop is in proximity to their home. So, keeping home as that single source of truth is a really valuable strategy going forward.”

A second source of resilient data is emerging from the growing use of retail media networks (RMNs), Lowcock added. Retailers have recognized that capturing data from their own in-store shoppers can help solve a lot of data challenges. “Retail media has both transactional data and household identification,” he pointed out.

Finding a resilient data strategy for the future, Lowcock concluded, is far from a “set it and forget it” scenario. The landscape will continue to evolve — and that means brands need to remain informed and vigilant.

“You need to work hard to stay on top of industry changes,” he said, “because what I tell you today is guaranteed to change tomorrow.”