2021 Digital Predictions with Jade Arenstein, Head of Data Strategy and Analytics Incubeta ZA

In the fourth instalment of our Incubeta Ignite: 2021 Digital Predictions Series – where we’re catching up with some of Incubeta’s leadership team across our Global offices, to discuss predictions for 2021 – we had the pleasure of talking with Jade Arenstein, Head of Data Strategy and Analytics at Incubeta ZA.

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Expanding on her predictions from our 2021 Global Predictions series, Jade discusses the relevance of first party data, GA4, and how, going forward, advertisers should be operating a data-centric approach to their digital marketing strategy.

Moving from 2020 to 2021

2020 was definitely the year for surprises – full of unpredictable outcomes that caught the whole world off guard. Jade started by discussing how no one in the industry could have anticipated or predicted the outcomes of 2020 – in particular those outcomes concerning analytics. Focusing on a strictly analytical perspective, we saw a multitude of shifts and changes with huge updates from tech giants such as; Facebook, Google and Apple. In particular, the new iOS 14 update from Apple – which will block cookies from being tracked on all Apple apps, and the Google/Chrome update – which will block third-party cookies from 2022. For advertisers, this will undoubtedly be one of the biggest changes the industry will ever face, and Jade emphasized the importance of identifying and acting upon the wealth of opportunities these updates present.  

Moving into 2021, first party data and CRM data is going to become the key to success. Both large and small businesses alike are sitting on a huge amount of data, and as advertisers, we need to start tapping into this data, finding the best ways in which to utilize it to maximize return. Jade expanded on this, discussing how businesses should be investing in both their BI and Data Science teams to make use of, and optimize their first-party data. Businesses should be building out their CRMs and databases – investing in their data teams to enhance the level of the first party data collected, while constantly thinking about how this data can be used within their strategies to drive both performance and growth.

First Party Data

Jade initially discussed first-party data in reference to legacy businesses, focusing specifically on the need to bridge the gap between marketing teams and data scientists. The first step for any advertiser should be to identify the type of data that their business is sitting on, and to do this a people centric approach needs to be implemented, with cross-team communication across the company. Once advertisers have established the type of data they have, they need to figure out a method by which to automatically ingest it into their platforms – identifying the appropriate solutions and technologies for their business. Ultimately speaking, user privacy is at the core of all these updates, which advertisers will have to keep in mind, and respect moving forward.

When discussing first-party data in reference to new businesses, Jade highlighted the importance of brands harnessing the power, and data collection of their websites. Post cookie deprecation, websites are going to become the go-to point for data collection, and starting from scratch as a new business is the ideal situation to be in. First steps should be to ensure that one’s website has the ability to both collect data, and track the data that’s being collected. From there, key features to focus on are login functionality, generating user IDs and using Google IDs to tie back to the CRM. From a strategy perspective, businesses should be using this first-party data to inform data driven creatives and data driven messaging – building a more customisable approach, that’s tailored to the customer. First party data is the focus of the future.

If you’re interested in learning more about analytics in 2021, the crumbling of the cookie policy, and more, have a read of our latest Analytics In Action event writeup.


Expanding on her predictions within the Incubeta South Africa 2021 Predictions piece, Jade discussed the latest rendition of Google Analytics – GA4, and how businesses should be approaching it in 2021. Introduced at the end of last year, GA4 is the fourth generation of Google Analytics that uses machine learning (ML) capabilities to provide advertisers with substantial insights concerning their data. Although functioning a lot in the back end, Jade discussed how GA4 was primarily designed to bring together App and Web data – bridging the gap between the two, with everyone moving towards a cross platform, cross device environment. 

Unlike the previous rendition of Google Analytics (Universal Analytics), GA4 is events based – not session/page view based meaning, when switching over, advertisers will need to adopt a new measurement and set-up plan. Although there is speculation regarding the time frame, Universal Analytics will eventually fall away after the full roll out of GA4, and Jade stressed the importance of upgrading as soon as possible so historical data can be uploaded into the system – to inform ML decisions, and identify conversion data. As official GMP partners, we suggest that advertisers start thinking ahead and taking a data first approach – utilizing all available data to the best of their ability, and we think GA4 is a great tool for this.

Budgets (Forecasting & Financing)

Historically speaking, businesses were spending substantial portions of their budget on their above the line, traditional media, however, since 2020, the opposite has started to happen. Advertisers have started rethinking their investments, shifting the bulk of their budget towards digital, with large uplifts in digital spend. 

The more brands spend on digital, the more they get used to the measurability of it and they have now come to expect this across all their marketing efforts. With consumers spending more time at home, and more time online, we’ve seen greater engagement and better results with digital campaigns, which has only fuelled the increase in digital spend and budget investments.

Click here to watch the full episode of Incubeta Ignite: Digital Predictions with Jade Arenstein

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