Marketing

Linkfire boss talks smarter attribution and the death of cookies


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Lars Ettrup, CEO of smart-links firm Linkfire, delivered a talk at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit conference in London this week on “the joys of attribution”, and how music marketers can better track the journey music fans take from discovery through to consumption and purchase.

“With all the channels and influencers who can drive streams, how do you actually monitor the effect of that?” he asked.

Ettrup outlined what Linkfire is currently doing and what the company is trying to achieve as well as the marketing and data trends that it sees coming.

“We are trying to solve the black box dilemma,” he said, noting that direct attribution – following engagement on one platform and tracking that through to streams, sales, transactions, purchases and so on – is what it wants to bring clarity to.

“You need to know how your marketing is performing, period,” he said. In a time of booming platforms and growing competition, marketers need to understand what effect their campaigns and spend are having.

“You have to figure of where you get value for money,” he said of marketing spend, before outlining some of the current barriers to that. “All this data is available. But it is either siloed or locked in someone else’s database. There is no standardisation to figure out how to surface this data.”

Everyone in the chain and wider ecosystem has an interest in that data – to keep it to themselves, to protect it, to monetise it and so on. Linkfire, which started four years ago, is looking to democratise this. Ettrup said that this year, the company expects to see 1bn visitor journeys through Linkfire links – which gives it an enormous number of data points to work from.

Within six months, Linkfire will be able to attribute 50% of its traffic. “The goal is obviously to provide 100% transparency,” he said. “We are working on a big update to our insights section where we are going to give full transparency and where you can get a clear overview of things. Did my video drive any streams, sales or commission?”

Ettrup said that the old resistance to lock down data is falling away. “We are seeing an incredible willingness from services and ticket providers to want to surface this data to everyone,” he suggested. “The goal of achieving 100% attribution is feasible in the very near future.”

In terms of issues that will change marketing and attribution data in the near future, he suggested that data privacy will cause a shift where attribution happens on a segmented basis rather than on a user level. Marketers will be able to see which cohorts perform well but they will not be visible on an individual level.

“That is difficult for us as an industry,” he said, “but it is great for us as consumers and people.”

Ettrup also suggested that the era of the tracking cookie is going the same way as the dodo.

“Cookies will die,” he said, bluntly. “The way we do retargeting on individuals today will change drastically over the next six-to-12 months. Building up pools of audiences will become very difficult.”

Marketing teams will therefore have to prepare for the impact of data protection laws and get to grips with its impact on retargeting.

“As cookies will be obsolete there will be huge updates to Chrome and Safari: they will make cookies irrelevant,” he concluded, warning marketers that they’ll have to work within the new browser ethics. However, he maintained that companies who are no longer dependent on cookies will be at a huge advantage in the future.

Disclosure: Linkfire was a sponsor of the Sandbox Summit conference

Eamonn Forde

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