Over the last 18 months, Loyalty360 has seen a good deal of mergers and acquisitions. We’re seeing organizations acquire the necessary assets to support the full customer lifecycle. This helps enhance capabilities and better serve clients. One organization hot to support all aspects of the customer journey, from acquisition to loyalty, is Cheetah Digital. Most recently, it acquired Wayin, a company that specializes in what has come to be called “zero-party data.”  
Curious about the rationale for the acquisition and what it means for the company going forward, Loyalty360 reached out to Judd Marcello, Executive Vice President of Marketing for Cheetah Digital. He provided a wealth of insight into how Cheetah Digital has evolved since its inception, how acquisitions have enhanced product, and the value of first-party (and now zero-party) data. 
Marcello indicated that, over the last two years, Cheetah Digital has been bringing its product vision to life. In particular, Cheetah Digital is making an effort to enhance its two primary solutions: Cheetah Loyalty, the company’s loyalty management solution, and Marketing Suite, its cross-channel campaign management solution.  
According to Marcello, the long-term goal is to shift primary emphasis from messaging to customer engagement. Each acquisition, including that of Wayin, is a part of this strategy. 
Marcello stated that this evolution (and pulling out of Experian) has enabled the company to get “reacquainted with clients.” However, he indicated that, throughout its history, Cheetah Digital has maintained expertise in messaging, sophistication in data management, a dedicated in-house team for services (comprising roughly half of the company’s 1,300 employees), and marketing with permission-based data.  
This consistency has enabled some clients to stay with the company for over a decade. Marcello indicated that many are drawn to Cheetah Digital’s focus on marketing solutions and its resistance to industry jargon and tech-hype. 
Marcello noted that, in light of GDPR and various data-privacy regulations, Cheetah Digital is faced with a massive opportunity, given its insistence on using permission-based, first-party data. He said, “Brands that are using third-party data, purchasing data that is not captured by the brand itself, are eroding trust. That third-party data has almost become something to stay away from, particularly with the onslaught of global privacy regulations.”  
First-party data is more useful, anyway, in Marcello’s opinion. Unlike third-party data, first-party data is always connected to product, messaging, and activation. First party data is not inferred. It is given willingly by the consumer. It provides a clear view of the customer to marketers. 
Wayin’s “zero-party” data is also directly tied to consumers. Essentially, the term refers to data that consumers offer freely through “micro-distributed experiences” around the web. These experiences, according to Marcello, “not only express brand, but speak to their specific customer in ways that might get them to engage with them.” 
Zero-party data is suitable to Cheetah Digital because it is permission-based. Marcello said, “When it comes to zero-party, first-party, you can’t get away from permission-based data. That term has been around since the start of the digital marketing days, and its premise holds true.” 
He concluded, “Permission-based data is the start of a direct relationship that you can build between brands and consumers. Ultimately, when you first give your email address over, you are inquiring about a brand or a product. You are interested in learning more, and then maybe, you might become a customer or a subscriber or a member. That initial entry-point, where a consumer says, ‘I care enough to give you my personal information’ should be used wisely and taken as an opportunity to demonstrate value. These direct relationships are what’s most important today.” 

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