MarTech Interview with Nicky Watson, Founder at Cassie

Get insights into a cookieless world through this interview with Nicky Watson.

Kindly brief us about yourself and your journey as the Founder of Cassie?

I spent the early days of my career across the disciplines of software design, data mining and digital marketing. After pioneering the use of several marketing technologies for multiple enterprise clients, I built and brought Cassie to market. Cassie was founded in 2000 with the mission of powering sustainable, compliant revenue growth by building strong customer relationships through the respect of individual choices. Since then, I’m proud that we’ve been able to help customers across finance, healthcare, higher education, retail, automotive, and more achieve that goal.

As the Founder and Chief Architect at Cassie, I still retain direction of all development work for the product. I offer guidance that ensures Cassie remains ahead of the technological, business and legislative challenges our clients may face while navigating data privacy and consumer preferences.

Brief us about Cassie and give us an overview of its standout products and services.

Cassie is a consent and preference management platform (CMP) that empowers businesses to build long-term relationships with customers that engenders trust. Our software enables businesses to collect, store and query consent and preference data to increase their revenue and deliver real-time customer experiences.

This data allows organizations to better understand and engage with customers, ultimately driving loyalty, engagement and sales while meeting legislative requirements.

Some of our key product focus areas include consent management, preference management, cookie management, and identity service.

The study “Privacy Pain Points” reveals that 81% of marketers are concerned about the ability to target ads effectively to consumers without cookies. What are the main reasons behind this concern, and what are the potential consequences for marketers?

Legislation across the globe now requires businesses to allow customers to decide what personal data they are willing to share. This concerns marketers because they are always looking for the most effective ways to reach consumers. However, if they don’t retire tactics that rely on using consumer data obtained in unethical ways, i.e. third party cookies, they could not only face fines, but also lose the trust of their consumers.

Ultimately, operating without prioritizing consumer data privacy at the forefront can lead to a loss in revenue and reputational damage. Solutions like Cassie exist to guide marketers through these regulatory changes – learning the complexities of compliance is truly the first step in navigating regulation.

The digital landscape is evolving rapidly, and there are increasing privacy concerns. How do first-party cookies differ from other types of cookies, and why are they particularly important in the marketing landscape?

First-party cookies are gathered directly from visitors with their explicit consent. Things like preferences, names and email addresses are becoming increasingly important in today’s marketing landscape as legislation changes and begins to require user consent. First-party cookies provide marketers with valuable insights into their consumer’s interests and desires while still remaining compliant.

What are the key takeaways or recommendations for marketers in order to navigate the challenges of a cookieless future and continue to drive successful marketing outcomes?

The Privacy Pain Points study revealed that more than half (56%) of marketers say that their company has not made a plan for shifting their marketing strategy once cookie tracking is removed. If a marketing team hasn’t already started on their cookieless journey, now is the time to do so. By being honest about how they collect data and empowering customers to decide what information they share, marketers will have a leg up against competitors and can get ahead of privacy laws. Otherwise, they risk the possibility of falling behind.

While we’ve touched on first-party data – some other alternatives for ethical marketing include exploring the use of contextual ads, or embrace Google’s Topics API as an advertising method.

Looking ahead, what other emerging trends or technologies do you believe will further shape the future of marketing alongside first-party cookies?

Cassie recently launched a solution called Progressive Profiling, which enables marketers to collect first-party data by asking relevant questions and building anonymous preference profiles. Adopting tools like this will be critical for marketers moving forward to ensure they are on the right page with consumers. It allows insight into consumer preferences, while still maintaining anonymity and privacy.

How does Cassie ensure compliance with data protection regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, while still providing marketers with the necessary tools to collect and leverage first-party data?

Providing marketers with the necessary tools to collect data while remaining compliant is our bread and butter. Cassie is a consent and preference management platform, which means through the use of customer data, we help drive loyalty, engagement and sales for our customers while ensuring they are still meeting legislative requirements. We always have a pulse on the latest regulations, so as we develop our platform and products, we consider evolving legislative and technical landscapes, and how to best address them.

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In what ways is Cassie’s product and its features resilient to the changes impacting marketing and advertising technology? How does it provide a long-term solution to marketing compliance?

In 2022, 59 privacy legislation bills were considered in the U.S. alone, and while just 2 were enacted, this goes to show just how much change marketers need to be prepared for. At Cassie, we do the work to ensure marketers are able to easily keep up with the ever-changing legislation. We are passionate about helping businesses comply with regulations and will update our products to make sure businesses can easily do so.

What innovations or advancements can we expect from Cassie in terms of enhancing the Progressive Profiling and Identity Service features to meet the evolving needs of marketers in a changing privacy landscape?

To reduce consent fatigue, we are working on Cross-Domain Consent. Consent fatigue means consumers can actually backtrack on their preferences, compromising their privacy even if it is not an option they originally chose. For large organizations with multiple brand domains, Cross-Domain Consent centralizes consent by sharing cookie preferences across connected group websites. When a visitor accepts a cookie on one domain and then visits another brand website where Cross-Domain Consent is enabled, they will not be asked about cookie preferences again and any future changes to a cookie preference will be automatically synced to connected brand domains.

Intelligent tracking prevention (ITP) is noted as a hindrance by 70% of marketers in delivering personalized brand experiences. How can marketers overcome this challenge and leverage consented consumer data to drive future personalization efforts?

The balance of privacy and personalization is a delicate one, but it can be done. Safari’s and Firefox’s ITP and ETP features affect websites and the overall user experience. Our study found that 82% believe that providing more transparency around data collection and usage could help build or repair customer trust. Providing transparency around data collection and usage is a great place to start. When consumers feel they can trust you, they are more keen on personalization efforts.

Please share with us your inspiration for venturing into the finance space.

We already have experience with open banking consent sharding and expect demand to grow in the future.

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Nicky Watson, Founder at Cassie

After a career spent across the disciplines of software design, data mining and digital marketing, and having pioneered the use of several marketing technologies for multiple enterprise clients, Nicky built and brought to market Cassie. Cassie was designed as a solution for companies wanting to gain the long-term advantages of using data compliantly and ethically whilst taking full advantage of legally-acquired data. Nicky is the Chief Architect at Syrenis, and retains direction of all development work for the product, offering expert guidance that ensures Cassie remains ahead of technological, business and legislative challenges our clients may face. Nicky is also Chair of the Board of Directors. LinkedIn.
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