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How Samsung Electronics Canada is 'future-proofing' its business with UID2 as cookies crumble

Three people in business attire watch a top as it spins on a path to purchase for a consumer.

Illustration by Nick DeSantis / Shutterstock / The Current

Half the money spent on advertising is wasted; the trouble is, marketers don't know which half, as marketing pioneer John Wanamaker famously said. That may soon be less of a concern, at least for electronics giant Samsung, when it comes to attributing online media spend to offline sales, an issue that has caused recurring headaches for advertisers and spawned makeshift solutions now threatened by the demise of cookies.

In this rapidly evolving identity landscape, recent tests by Samsung Electronics Canada show how new identity solutions like Unified ID 2.0 (UID2) are helping the consumer-tech brand better attribute offline sales from retail stores to online media spend. It’s been leveraging connected TV, video, and display.

The Trade Desk worked with Samsung Electronics Canada to help create a custom solution, Samsung Sales Measurement (SSM), tapping into an overlooked element of a lot of offline sales: email addresses. Once someone buys a device in Canada, they can create a Samsung account to register their new tech and opt in to marketing communications, which enables privacy-compliant data use for Samsung. An email address becomes the basis for a UID2, allowing the brand to connect its advertising efforts with product purchases.

The custom solution allows Samsung Electronics Canada to help lean on first-party data and work backwards along the consumer journey to understand how a buyer got to that purchase, says Andrea Beirness, VP digital at Starcom Canada, who partnered with The Trade Desk and Samsung Electronics Canada to work on SSM.

After implementation, Samsung's ability to attribute online media spend to offline sales increased by 19 times, based on Samsung Electronics Canada’s average account registration rate, says Christian Di Vincenzo, senior manager of digital marketing and content at Samsung Electronics Canada.

“We continue to seek new and innovate ways to future-proof our business as we prepare for a post-cookie era,” Di Vincenzo tells The Current. “This custom solution allows us to leverage our first-party data of opted-in customers in a very strategic way, which gives us a more holistic view of our customers across multiple touchpoints.”

“It can completely change how we plan our media campaigns,” Beirness says.

First-party data attribution

Traditionally, advertisers have relied on tools like geofencing, Bluetooth beacons, device IDs, coupons and surveys to attribute online media spend to offline purchases. These, however, are largely probabilistic and can lack in precision and scale.

Marketers have also historically turned to third-party cookies and loyalty programs to match online to offline data, but cookies’ ongoing deprecation poses a significant challenge, says Hema Thanki, EMEA senior product marketing manager at Twilio, maker of the Segment customer data platform (CDP).

“First-party data will provide far more valuable, relevant and accurate insights on customers, helping brands to better understand their customer behavior,” says Thanki. “As with third-party data, this can be similarly linked to point-of-sale data.”

New privacy-conscious identity solutions may help better equip advertisers to not only measure online-to-offline activity, but also tie everything back to a single currency that can be used for media buying and targeting as cookies deprecate.

A changing privacy landscape

Samsung Electronics Canada’s move into alternative identifiers comes as marketers worldwide grapple with wide-ranging changes in the privacy landscape, such as the recent introduction of new European data legislation.

“There could be limitations, where regulations say that combining data sets together will also be limited, on what you can combine and how you can combine it. That, too, will affect offline attribution,” says Angelina Eng, VP of measurement, addressability and the data center at IAB.

AI could help alleviate some of these concerns by leveraging data modeling to make probabilistic approaches more appealing for marketers. But it comes with its own potential issues. “Is there any bias, and is there enough representation? Are the algorithms actually correct? It's going to be hard to tell,” says Eng.

For now, some marketers are turning to Google’s Privacy Sandbox, the search giant’s answer to its own deprecation of cookies on the Chrome browser. But a recent IAB analysis found it has “significant challenges,” citing a lack of transparency and concluding that its “components […] cannot be assembled into a whole that provides a viable business foundation.”

Attributing sales — and more

As the industry moves into uncharted territory, many advertisers beyond Samsung Electronics Canada are already seeing significant results in addition to attribution from integrating with UID2. Last year, HP started testing UID2 for streaming ad buys on Disney and Hulu, in a bid to improve targeting as cookies were set to deprecate.

The company used consented data from its CDP, obtained from users registering their new devices, matching it with UID2s and creating audience segments. HP saw such improved targeting accuracy that the team decided to double the budget behind UID2 between the second and third quarters of last year.

“Unified customer profiles will also be a useful tool to leverage,” says Thanki. “This provides a more holistic view of the customer journey and can help in attributing sales across different channels.”

The Current is owned and operated by The Trade Desk, Inc.