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Challenges, Benefits Of First-Party Data In Search Campaigns

Using first-party data to target consumers with personalized messages can make or break a campaign. Each of the search engines -- Bing, Google, Yahoo -- use pixel-placement technology, but brands and their agency partners say there are many challenges to getting it spot on. The benefits, however, outweigh the trials and tribulations.

So when will Bing officially launch a "pixel-placement technology" to target consumers with first-party data? Hopefully sooner rather than later, if Stefanie Hineman has her way, the online advertising marketing manager at Intuit told MediaPost Search Insider Summit attendees during a panel discussion on scaling audience-based optimization with first-party data.

"All the engines use a pixel-placement technology," Hineman said. "Google launched Customer Match and Bing, hopefully, is close to follow. At least if I have my way."

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Targeting audiences with first-party data holds promise, but has many challenges. Launching a first-party campaign means the ability to target consumers with more personalized messages based on behavior, especially for returning customers. For Intuit, most searches on the site include the keywords "Turbo Tax," which gives the brand little insight into consumer intent -- only that they're looking for help with their taxes. Using first-party data allows Intuit to combine multiple sources and customize landing pages and adjust bids as needed.

The challenge with using Google Remarketing for Search Ads is that the user must come to your site and you must capture them within a certain amount of time. The information may not be as valuable as a CRM database filled with 10 years of data.

There are many concerns around sharing personal data, and strategies get caught in legal departments at brands whose marketers are all too familiar with protecting customer data. Attendees agreed that Google Customer Match can become a valuable tool, but there is a real sensitivity to using certain customer data.

Hineman also points to retargeting cookies as a challenge because they only last for 180 days. Turbo Tax has a four month season. Intuit loses the cookies during the off season. And need to start all over again by populating its data management system.  

Other challenges exist. Adobe Audience Manager is the closest to scaling and optimizing campaigns, but there's no fluidity from the data sets into paid search in terms of creating custom audience messaging segments, according to Jessie Dearien, regional director of paid search for the Midwest at iProspect.

It creates too much manual work to scale efforts, and the industry remains at least 12 months out for a unified vision, she said. It just creates so much manpower that you have to be selective on the audience, she said.

Success can come by working through challenges -- for example, making sure all channels work from a central playbook. Amy McClain, director of search and performance marketing at Beeby Clark + Meyler, supports campaigns for Marriott Hotels, using the Google remarketing pixel to create data segments from the brand's CRM platform and message customers differently. Some of her clients see between 50% and 60% search traffic coming from non-specific queries when using first-party data.

McClain also found success outside of Remarketing lists for Search Ads by using first-party data on the Google Display Network to test ads and dynamic search ads. She points to valuable lessons learned about consumers, such as their love for cooking sites, which could indicate that the site should highlight restaurant brands. 

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