Wednesday, July 17, 2024

B2B Commerce in the Opt-In Era

By Vinny Maurici, Vice President, Data Strategy & Services, Pivotree

For years, companies have been able to track their users’ website and app activity across other companies’ apps and websites, using the resulting data for advertising purposes or for sharing with data brokers. 

Last year, Apple launched a highly anticipated privacy feature: App Tracking Transparency (ATT). With this policy change, Apple users now have to opt-in to Apple’s Identifier for Advertising (IDFA), a unique code assigned to mobile devices, which data brokers and ad marketers use to track users across apps. Using this code, they can combine their users’ behaviour into one comprehensive profile, providing companies with the information they need to send targeted ads. 

Historically, this process took place behind the scenes, with most users generally unaware of what data was being collected and how it was being used. Now, users receive prompts the first time they open an app, letting them know how the app is tracking their data and giving them the option to opt-in. 

Unsurprisingly, Apple’s ATT policy was met with outrage from platforms like Facebook and Snap, who rely on their users’ data to send targeted ads and generate revenue. And their fears became a reality – in the United States, data from analytics company Flurry showed that users chose not to opt-in of app tracking 96 per cent of the time, following the implementation of ATT. 

Now, in 2022, nearly every direct-to-consumer (DTC) company is dealing with revenue contraction, shrinking margins and runaway losses. In combination with supply chain costs, heightened interest rates and shrinking venture capital investments, DTC companies are in trouble. 

It’s important to note that B2B organizations are different in their focus – with retail and DTC honing in on price and customer acquisition and B2B focusing on digital product experience and elements like PunchOut. B2B organizations have long understood their customers, however, and have been less reliant on paid advertisements or targeted ads as a source of revenue. On top of that, they have been focusing especially on the product experience of finding, selecting and ordering products. 

For that reason, B2B companies, once viewed as the dinosaurs of digital commerce, are now at the forefront of digital commerce strategy with many B2B distributors building more complete, in depth, and intuitive shopping experiences than retail giants like Amazon, Walmart, Etsy or Wayfair. For once it seems, retail has to catch up on the digital front when compared to leaders in the B2B digital commerce space.


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