4 mins read

Opinion: Data concerns dominated Cannes

palm tree
Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

This year, Cannes took place at a time where the industry faces a period of significant change around the use of data.  As a global venue that brings all sides of the advertising ecosystem together, the timing was perfect for sharing ideas around how to address the changes that regulators and tech giants are bringing to the ways we collect, sell and use consumer data as an industry. The issues discussed will shape not only the next several months but years of data strategy. Here’s what they were:

Everyone was talking about ‘connectivity’

Consumers are more discerning than ever about sharing their data. According to a DoubleVerify study released at Cannes, 71% of consumers share less data with brands today than they did a year ago. Everything from fake news to data scandals from walled gardens like Facebook, have compelled audiences to become savvier, smarter and stingier about providing data online. As a result, companies like Apple, Mozilla, and Google are prioritizing privacy controls for their browsers. 

At Cannes, this is something every marketer and publisher was talking about both on-stage and behind closed doors. How do we navigate a more conservative landscape? In response to that, I heard a lot of Cannes attendees talking about data “connectivity.” With third-party cookies under pressure, it’s critical for companies — whether they be marketers or publishers — to not only lock-down their strategies for collecting and organizing omnichannel first-party data, but also to figure out how to share that data across partners and platforms. How can marketers share data with publishers, publishers share data with marketers and publishers share data with other publishers? Connectivity maximizes the value of your data, as the sharing and collection of it becomes more challenging.  

Connectivity also applies to audience-based TV-buying and targeting, which is an exciting new opportunity. At Cannes, P&G’s March Pritchard spoke about creating more of a cross-channel identity. The industry wants to be able to reach TV audiences on digital, matching IDs across devices, channels and platforms. That’s the future.

What’s happening to third-party data? 

Google’s recent announcement that it’ll change how Chrome handles cookies was a centerpiece of Cannes. Everyone was talking about it — and from what I could tell, it has created some real confusion about the impact on advertisers and ad tech platforms, particularly around the creation, selling and buying of third-party data.

One of the biggest points of confusion is the difference between a third-party cookie and third-party data. A third-party cookie is a cookie placed on a device by a website from a domain other than the one a user is visiting, whereas third-party data typically refers to data that didn’t originate with the buyer or seller. Its origin is with a third-party — hence, the name. Third-party data includes demographic, interest, or intent data, and depending on the source, there are many ways third-party data is acquired and used by marketers. It might have originated in an offline consumer data file through a partner like LiveRamp. It could be related to the collection of common consumer actions on publisher sites like commenting on an article or sharing it on social. 

Depending on what that third-party data is and where it’s coming from, more aggressive treatment of third-party cookies by the Chrome browser may or may not have a material effect on the scale of third-party data. Also, third-party data can be associated with MAIDs and OTT device IDs, and in those cases, the data would not be affected by changes to treatment of third-party cookies. 

Transparency’s impact on data quality 

The demand for transparency continues to affect every aspect of digital marketing right now. It dominated every discussion at Cannes, with the launch of the Global Alliance for Reliable Media a key part of that. As a data solutions company, we’re also seeing calls for transparency to shape conversations around data quality and accuracy. 

According to a recent Forrester study, more than two-thirds of marketers are concerned over data quality. As the importance of audience data grows, sophisticated marketers are becoming more interested in the quality and accuracy of data to ensure they optimize their ad spend. This was a major focus among the partners and customers at Cannes.

As a result, we’re seeing marketers move away from the shortcuts that solely helped them achieve scale as those solutions have been found to undermine quality. These tactics include cookie-stuffing where users with online behavior only tangentially relevant to a brand are being used to expand the types of data that “fit” into a certain segment.

Another issue is the mischaracterization of data which happens when audience segments are incorrectly identified (or labeled). Marketers are opting, instead, to focus on precision over scale. This brings us back to first-party data, which is known for its quality but not its scale. 

All these ideas weren’t new when presented at Cannes 2019 but the urgency in which they were discussed highlights that these issues are at the forefront of everyone’s minds. Overall, advertisers must get ready for continued changes in the ecosystem and the first step of preparedness is to focus on their quality first-party data and the opportunities available there. 

Chris Hogg, MD, EMEA, Lotame

About Lotame: Lotame is the world’s leading unstacked data solutions company, helping publishers, marketers and agencies find new customers, increase engagement, and grow revenue through audience data. As the pioneer DMP thirteen years ago, Lotame has become the trusted data solutions company for global enterprises such as Bloomberg, IBM and Omnicom Group. Lotame is headquartered in New York City, with offices around the world, including London, Singapore, Mumbai and Sydney. Learn more at

Photo by Valentin B. Kremer on Unsplash