Flash Forward: Data Analytics Infrastructure: 2023

by Jim Cain

This is a continuation of last week’s post Flashback: Data Analytics Infrastructure: 1995-2015

Big changes started happening several years ago when Apple started making significant changes to their Safari browser to deprecate certain types of third-party and first party cookies. Now Google has said, in 2023 their browsers will also move towards a cookieless world. 

Would you rather watch than read? Here’s the video version of this post:

These changes are in response to a number of things, such as competition within big companies. A major driver is from regulatory compliance issues in Europe, California, and increasingly in other parts of the world. Governments want to ensure information about an individual is not being made available.  As these changes are being made, the fundamental infrastructure of how digital analytics works has to change as well, which is why we are seeing a return to server side tagging.

Doing instrumentation or data engineering at server level to expose certain types of things that we may not be able to get easily from the browser anymore. We are getting a lot more information from app ecosystems, matching things to referring URLs with extra parameters, campaign IDs, and, when possible, we are able to look at individual behavior in a post login user way. That is all being fed through to, in some cases, an interstitial instance of a cloud product like Google Cloud or Amazon Web Services, or directly into a tool like Google Analytics.

It is interesting that this infrastructure is very updated and more sophisticated, but similar to what we were doing 20 years ago. To some extent, especially with server side and log analysis and some of the things that are being touted, it is seen as cutting edge. In a sense, everything that is old is new again. It is hard, unless you have lived through it, to put it in perspective how little single data digital analysts had in 2005 versus 2015. We had so much more data available to us – media buyers and marketers were in a world where they could actually identify and speak to individuals based on their behavior with things like programmatic retargeting. That is all gone. We have really gone back to a bit of a 2005 paradigm, in terms of what we can have, and what we can do with it. 

With some new school updates, this is creating havoc inside our clients, our prospects, and other people we know in the industry. It is increasing the traditional disconnect between people that are focused on data, and people that are focused on growing the business. Data for reporting, because of these changes to cookie infrastructure, and because of the slow speed that businesses are taking to upversion their infrastructure, there is data that is missing and data that used to be accurate but now is not. There is a whole list of things that are types of data that used to be commonly available, that will never be available again.

There is a lot of conflict here, the data for advertising and marketing no longer aligns with the expectations of the business, or, in some cases, regulation of government. A lot of it was third party cookie driven and those are going away. Even in the industry at large, let alone inside an individual business or enterprise, we do not see a lot of clear plans for what to do now and what to do to set ourselves up for what will be coming down the pipe.

I can guarantee that in the next 18 months, things will be coming out of Google, Facebook, and regulations that will make changes that are fundamental to how we capture and use data. We need to be prepared for these things. So, infrastructure evolved, to some extent de-evolved for good reasons, and inside the business people are freaking out.

Can’t wait for Part 3? Watch the full recording.

Jim Cain

Chief Innovation Officer & Founder, Napkyn Analytics

Founding CEO of Napkyn Inc., it was Jim’s curiosity about how data can be leveraged by marketers that led to him establishing the company in 2009. He ideated, delivered and iterated all of the early services delivered by Napkyn to enterprise clients. Jim has a unique ability to connect the dots for where the industry and individual brands will and can go with their data-driven initiatives.

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