Product Managers Get Ready To Change Where They Get Data From

Changes at Google will have an impact on product managers
Changes at Google will have an impact on product managers
Image Credit: Mary Crandall

In order to be a successful product manager, we need to have data. In fact the more data that we can get our hands on, the better we are able to do our jobs. In the world of consumer products product managers have been having it pretty easy in the past few years. The powerful data collection abilities of Google have make large amounts of information about our customers available to us to purchase. However, it turns out that Google is planning on making some changes in regards to the information about consumers that they collect and this could have a big impact on product managers.

Google Shuts Down A Source Of Consumer Information

So what’s going on? As an example, a large brewer ran a test to tell whether its campaign promoting it’s product in the U.K. could boost sales and brand favor – and in the process help answer a broader question about the long-term fate of its digital marketing as the way consumers are targeted for ads faces a shift. Their campaign took 10,000 anonymized identities of people who had visited the brand’s distillery or website, and sent them offers like promotional emails or Instagram ads promising drink recipes and early access to new products. The result was that they saw a click-through rate, which indicates how often ad exposures lead to clicks, around 9% higher than previous campaigns that relied on common but now endangered targeting methods, such as using data from third-party sources. Their new campaign also saw a 14% increase in cost efficiency as measured by a cost-per-click metric.

The reason that consumer experiments like this are important is because Google more than a year ago revealed plans to eliminate third-party cookies on its Chrome browser in favor of a more privacy-compliant approach, and in March it said it won’t offer or use alternatives that allow individual ad targeting. Cookies, which are files in a browser that carry information about a person’s online behavior, have become key tools for product managers trying to put the right digital ads in front of the right people. At the same time Apple has unveiled plans that likely would make it harder for mobile apps to collect the data that helps product managers send targeted digital ads. The changes are delivering a seismic shift to product managers, forcing brands to rely less Google for targeting individuals – for example, by sending a shoe ad to someone who previously viewed the shoes online – and to invest in new ways to collect and use first-party data.

Product managers will need to hold and own a lot more of their own consumers’ data themselves, and rely less on the gatekeeping of Google and Apple or borrowing in other people’s data, This challenges product manages to look at new data sets. The shift also requires product managers to make changes without a lot of visibility into how digital advertising will work without cookies. A cookieless future is being built but without really knowing what that future is.

Product Managers Start To Get To Know Their Consumers

The good news for product managers is that to replace individual ad targeting, Google says it will build tools that let product managers target large groups of people with common traits when sending ads outside Google’s walls. Within Google properties like YouTube and Gmail, it will in some cases let product managers apply their first-party data to target individuals. Other technology and data companies are working on tools meant to help product managers target individuals beyond Google, without relying on cookies. The changes have product managers examining everything from the ways they try to get customers’ information to how they manage the data they collect.

When Google made their announcement it reaffirmed the importance of investments that the product managers at Clorox Co. were already making in first-party data, partly in response to consumers’ changing attitudes toward privacy. They are working to bring people to their website so they can and will share their data. It helps customers understand how the product managers can have a better and more fruitful relationship with the customers as cookies disappear. Back in 2019, Clorox announced a plan to acquire information on about 100 million people by 2025. This data encompass the browsing behavior of consumers who visit the company’s websites, as well as contact information from people who sign up for loyalty programs or newsletters.

It turns out that it isn’t easy to move past third-party cookies. That is especially true for product managers at packaged-goods companies. Companies that are without as much consumer data as, for instance, retailers awash in first-party purchase and browsing information. This can be a hard journey, particularly for advertisers who haven’t had direct access. As an example, Clorox is shuffling its technology partners and systems to account for a shift to first-party data and the need to make more personalized creative marketing content ready to be sent to consumers. The company is moving out of the data-management platform it uses for audience data largely from third parties and is launching a new system that can ingest and process data that the company collects from its own programs and properties. This may include information on what consumers do when they visit its own e-commerce sites.

What All Of This Means For You

In order for a product to be successful, a product manager has to have a good understanding of what their customer actually wants. In the past we were able to get a great deal of information about what our customers did online from the makers of the browsers that they used. Both Google and Apple allowed cookies to be used in order to track a consumer’s journey from one website to another. These companies have recently announced that they are changing the data that they collect and a prime source of consumer data will be going away. What do product managers need to do now?

Some companies have already been running advertising campaigns that they manage themselves and which don’t used any additional information from Google. This may be a good thing because Google has announced that they are planning on making their Chrome browser more privacy compliant. The result of this is that product managers are going to have to hold on to more of the information on their customer’s online habits instead of relying on Google or Apple to provide them with it. Google has promised to provide product managers with tools that will make up for some of this gap. Product managers will need to take steps to get more information on their consumers and this may require buying data from third party firms. No matter, the need to get your consumer data from new sources will require product managers to make some significant changes.

I guess we all should have realized that changes could happen. Google decision to make their browser more privacy friendly means that product managers will need to take steps to get their consumer data from somewhere else. We will have to create systems that will allow us to get the data that we could purchase from Google in the past. This is a natural evolution of our data collecting activities. If we can do a good job of it, then we’ll still be able to truly understand what our customers want.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: How can product managers make their customer want to share their online information with them?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

If you enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning when you are at home, just exactly how do you go about making that cup of coffee? These days, if you are like most people, you probably pop one of those “K-cups” into your Keurig machine and then sit back and let the magic happen. This way of making coffee has become so popular that the product managers at Keurig have started thinking about branching out. In fact, they’ve expanded their product development definition and set their eyes on cocktails as the next market that they want to enter.