Opinions: 2023 Predictions for First-Party Data, Walled Gardens, and the Open Web

Customers expect brands to recognize them, know their interaction history, and anticipate their needs. Meanwhile, privacy regulations and the looming deprecation of third-party cookies have emphasized the need for a proprietary identity graph for most brands. The speed, variability, and value of different data types and sources are forcing marketers to step back and rethink their approach. Marketers are increasingly prioritizing first-party data to target consumers. Worldwide, 36% of marketing professionals expect that customer purchase history will be their most valuable source of data once third-party cookies are gone. Meanwhile, 32% see social media profiles as key, and 31% plan to rely on website registrations.

ExchangeWire spoke to experts to comment on their industry predictions on what’s in store for next year concerning the Open Web and Walled Gardens.

“In years gone by, digital ad spend was often shared between the Open Web and the Walled Gardens of Google and Facebook. The various privacy changes by governments and tech companies like Google and Apple have cut off the connection between ad tech companies and internet users. This has meant that publishers have become the gatekeepers to the audiences that advertisers want to reach. As a result, many large publishers and media companies have built walls around their valuable first-party and created Walled Gardens of their own. There are still more privacy changes to come and I believe that in 2023 we’ll see more publishers and media companies build walled gardens to better monetise their first-party data and give advertisers access to their target audiences. This, however, will lead to more fragmentation and more challenges around targeting and measurement, which companies will no doubt work on solving in the new year.”

– Piotr Banaszczyk, CEO, Clearcode  


“The Open Web is part of our everyday lives, whether for work or pleasure. Verified and actionable data will be the most precious currency on the Open Web, and publishers and content creators will use “open data” to power more efficient and profitable efforts. However, it is vital that this data is kept safe and not simply available to the highest bidder; I believe that independent WebGuardian programmes will help to achieve this. I predict that the Open Web will continue to represent accessibility and equality. However, this will depend on how it develops around the Walled Gardens. As an industry, we must aspire to create an interconnected group of Open Gardens that benefit everyone who abides by the universal rules of mutual respect, good intentions, and respect for data privacy. This way, we can create a balanced value exchange and a sustainable and efficient Open Web.”

– Sophie Toth, co-founder, The Women in Programmatic Network


“In 2023, first party data strategies will continue to evolve and be a focus for media buyers. More premium publishers will follow SCMP in exiting open marketplaces. The focus will be on delivering value for media buyers through deeper insights, coupled with controls and safeguards. Media buyers will need to navigate a world of walled gardens working with media partners and unified identifiers where possible.”

– Joshua Campanella, Programmatic Lead and Client Director, SCMP Advertising  


Similarly, industry representatives from the e-commerce industry give their take on what the next year holds.  

“Third-party cookies might be going away but not the tracking. First-party data is going to be a big part of the “cookie-less future” affirm practitioners. A whole host of different targeting methods are springing up to fill the void. Businesses will have to find other ways to access this information through membership cards, loyalty programs, e-mail subscribers, social media insights, opt-in mechanisms, and more. That means the days of ‘easy e-commerce’ are numbered.”

– Kowshik Komandur, AVP at OnMobile Global Limited


“While we will lose out on a large database to target our audience, all is not lost, we will still have a relevant database to target the audience from those who accept cookies. The brand has been using first-party data to a large extent and leveraged its content capabilities to reach out to its target audience. Content marketing gives us a far better audience profile and leads at much less cost. We will leverage content marketing and first-party data in the future too.”  

– Pravin Menon, Chief Marketing Officer, Veranda Learning  


“We have been working with our agencies to ensure we have the right set of media mixes as we approach 2023 and prepare for 2024 to ensure the shift is seamless for the business. We have successfully developed campaigns through API integration with our partners ensuring the right message reaches the right audiences and has a higher share of voice in our core customer segment,” 

– Kiran James, Associate Vice President – Marketing & Product Management, Muthoottu Mini


“From a digital advertising perspective, the privacy of customers will become the prime importance and will focus only on audience interest/behaviour over a wide geography landscape. With no website browser cookies, first-party data will have more weightage and advertisers will strive to bank on this potential.”

– Khushboo Gandhi, Founder, QueenBee Digital   

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