Escaping the Walled Garden: It’s Not the Data; It’s the Approach That Needs to Change

By Greg Silverman, Jan 11, 2021

For too long, businesses have been willingly trapped in walled gardens as a means to collect data. And don’t just take our word for it; eMarketer recently reported that nearly 70% of U.S. digital ad spend goes to Google, Facebook, and Amazon. 

Businesses spend the majority of their ad budget to receive data from these closed-ecosystems. Namely, these platforms provide them with information that marketing departments perceive as the only way to populate their models. 

But a walled garden approach to collecting data isn’t the solution to understanding your consumers, nor is a reliance on deploying third-party cookies. It’s time to break free.

The decline of a cross-media channel

Technology has always been an important marketing asset. As CMOs and advertising teams face more pressure to develop  innovative ideas backed by data, their reliance on tech, internet cookies, and social media has only grown. However, they once relied on the cross-media channels for a cost-effective and fast way to collect information have slowly but surely become gated. 

Writing for Epsilon, Leslie Lang explained the rise of walled gardens in more detail. She emphasized that businesses who launch their campaigns on these popular platforms naturally need a way to see the results and better understand their customers. However, these websites and search engines took advantage of that fact to make businesses pay for the data they need. 

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Time and time again, these closed-ecosystems also fall short for the marketers paying for them. Lang explained that even as marketers spend more on these platforms, they understand less about their customers. This is because the walled garden campaigns and interactions can’t be tied back to a company's consumer database. Brands will never receive a comprehensive view of how their campaign performed, and therefore have an incomplete picture of their customers and how they interact across different channels.

For businesses that didn’t want to enter the walled garden, cookies were an alternative to help understand who visited their website. But just like the sweet treats, filling up on cookies is not a viable source of information since Google is planning to phase-out third-party cookies by 2022. 

With this change approaching, are walled gardens, the only way for businesses to obtain the consumer data they need? The answer is simple: No. While it’s true the data businesses need often lies behind the wall; a new approach is available that helps them collect the information they need and adapt to changing laws around consumer privacy.

Simulation: A better alternative to a walled garden

It’s clear that brands are under pressure to optimize data use for each of these walled gardens or choose a new perspective. While it may feel easiest to ignore the enclosed data, you need it to understand how your consumers interact with your brand. 

Concentric knows these walled gardens exist but effectively breaks them by enacting a completely different data collection approach and management. Backed by complexity science, their simulation platform empowers businesses to use the data they have to make better, faster decisions. Aided by artificial intelligence and machine learning, existing data is boot-strapped to fill in the gaps about the information you may be missing.

This is possible because Concentric moves businesses away from a reliance on cookies and media-centric models to consumer-focused ones. While the data derived from walled garden campaigns only show a disjointed picture of the consumer, simulation models show the entire consumer market. This provides a unified measure of analytics rather than information from a few consumer interactions spread across a few paid media channels.

Instead of benefitting publishers and analytics firms by paying them for the data you need and earned through marketing campaigns, Concentric is designed to benefit your brand first. When you’re ready to throw your cap over the wall and try a new approach, Concentric is here to help.

Benefits of this new market-centric perspective

The consumer-centric approach Concentric provides businesses with numerous benefits beyond being an alternative to a walled garden. Here are just a few to consider: 

A complete view of the market

The market is composed of more than your brand and the consumer that interact with it. Businesses need to understand both the market and the customer journey in its entirety. As mentioned, this is something a walled garden is simply incapable of providing. Building an entire brand on these enclosed ecosystems means a business will never see the entire marketplace since they need to go from channel to channel to collect their data while keeping it siloed. 

On the other hand, market simulation considers all parts of the journey, including elements such as competitor actions, product performance, customer satisfaction, earned media, social networks (not social media), and latent consumer behaviors.

Human in the loop

Driven by AI, ML, and other mathematical approaches, Concentric naturally works faster to calibrate against real-world results. The human element is still central, as well. While the model is automated, it requires business users to help populate data and present questions for it to improve. Human input is essential to the model, and is one reason why the solution provides fast results.

Similarly, having business users as an integral part of the model ensures the solution is lining up with what’s actively happening in the market. This produces a faster learning cycle critical to a company’s success.

Cost efficiencies

Like any solution, Concentric is not without expense, but it is less expensive than hiring outside consultants to do the work for you. As Steve Andriole stated in an article for Forbes, “External consultants cost a small fortune to engage.” That’s because they must make multiple models to land on one that works. Concentric is an investment that will soon begin teaching itself, so businesses can rest assured that their model provides the most accurate forecasts.

Of course, this model also lives within your facilities, meaning the data is always accessible. No more waiting on the walled gardens and publishers to provide you with bits and pieces of information you need to start optimizing your strategy. 

Contact us today to learn more about a new approach to data collection and modeling, and stay tuned for the next installment in our series to understand why your marketing mix models are leaving you wanting for more.

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