Why CMOs Should Explore Data Unions in 2022

The $491 billion digital advertising industry and $75 billion market research industry are tightly intertwined, and ultimately roll up to the purview of the chief marketing officer (CMO).

These industries are approaching a crossroads when it comes to understanding consumer behavior.

Government legislation that protects consumer data, paired with the pending death knell of third-party cookies in Chrome, will force these sister industries to explore new avenues when it comes to a host of data-driven activities including display ads, search, attribution, clickstream data, and more. 

In 2022, internet traffic will surpass all internet traffic through 2016. This data deluge creates tremendous opportunities for advertising and research.

As the digital landscape evolves, cookie-free data unions will become integral components to understanding the complexities of consumer behavior.



These permission-based platforms address the challenges (and opportunities) of the data-hungry advertising and research industries.

What is the novel approach of data unions? Consumer ownership and agency over their data, including the ability to monetize it. 

As walled gardens and other big tech companies tighten their grip on consumer data for competitive insights as well as avoiding penalties, we can also anticipate increased government restrictions placed on how consumers are tracked and analyzed as they surf the internet.

Consumers are also doing their part by installing ad blockers, which stymie brand engagement and surveillance. If we use and abuse consumer data enough, these are the consequences in what many label as Web 2.0.

Although the definition of Web 3.0 is a work in progress, core tenets include: transparency, agency and ownership — especially with regard to consumer data management.

In Web 2.0 harvesting, consumer data was the path to a (somewhat) improved digital experience, but the real draw was profits. Web 3.0 represents a power shift whereby the consumer will determine how, where and when their data is shared.

In this new data landscape, the consumer is rewarded for sharing anonymized browsing data.

Rewards will go beyond that free annual credit report (yawn). We are talking about an equitable value exchange in the form of money, such as cryptocurrency.

Think of it as a page from American Express’ loyalty rewards playbook, except the use of the internet browser determines consumer rewards.

Facebook generated $10.16 per user in third-quarter 2021 -- wouldn’t it be nice if consumers got their fair share? While micropayments in exchange for browser behavior may not pay the mortgage, it could buy a cup of coffee or go toward a favorite charitable organization.

It is ultimately up to the individual. Marketers and researchers can no longer “wait and see” whether they wish to remain competitive and be a part of the next iteration of the internet.

Data unions are the path forward for those seeking alternatives to the current consumer data oligarchs. Now is the time to explore, test and learn. 

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