It’s clear that the current worldwide pandemic has forced a real focus on the ability to communicate. Much of this focus has been on digital transformation; new or improved online user experiences, better segmentation of existing data. Changing business models to be available to new customers who can’t leave the house have all been given greater urgency due to the situation we now find ourselves in.

The sudden need to improve the digital element of businesses quickly has also aligned with a pivot to first party data. The last 12 months has seen a substantial and necessary improvement in how seriously data and consumer privacy is taken. Heavy fines have been given due to the GDPR breaches. Facebook security has been scrutinised in live court hearings, and more recently Google announced it’s plans to remove third party cookies from Chrome – comfortably the most used web browser in the world.

These changes are bringing fresh opportunities to market, with businesses looking at how they can help advertisers shift from the overuse of third-party data, to an effective and compliant use of the data they already own.

One of the most interesting movers in the market has been Infosum. Infosum are a data SaaS company who allow advertisers and publishers to make the most of their first-party data. The way to look at what they offer clients is, interestingly, what they don’t do. Infosum don’t take central control or ownership of data, neither do they pass it onto others. Instead they provide the connection between two or more datasets in a uniform and compliant fashion. Recently Infosum have launched new relationships with publishers such as Channel 4, Global and the Telegraph which gives significant scale and backing to their product.

The opportunities that arise for advertisers through better connection of their own data are numerous. From a planning perspective, it becomes possible to gain a much deeper understanding of your audience by seeing how they engage with publishers outside of those with their own adserver – such as Google and Facebook. By connecting with multiple publishers for analysis, it’s possible to analyse which screens are most important to your most valuable audiences, breaking the traditional ‘digital’ barrier to planning and creating a campaign that is truly omnichannel and driven by your own data. For publishers too it means that they can segment their own audiences more effectively, with bespoke packages for advertisers and then charging accordingly, in a fairer, transparent way.

Although this marks a significant development in the connection between advertisers and publishers, of course it’s not yet a perfect solution. Publisher partners and advertisers will still need data at scale, in order to increase match rates and gain a unified view of an audience. The duopoly of Facebook and Google have spent years utilising first-party data to build custom audiences and lookalikes which work extremely well in their platforms and have huge numbers of datapoints for their algorithms to optimise towards.

The best starting use of Infosum and similar partners will be a data-led approach to planning across actual audiences and devices. This requires an equal change in measurement and advertisers must resist the urge to jump straight to cost per acquisition tracking.

The changes in data privacy, tracking and regulation have forced the industry into better connections, we must ensure our measurement and reporting changes with it.