Google’s announcement that it will stop supporting third-party cookies by the end of 2023 has many marketers worried. In this blog post, we talk about what a cookieless world actually means for marketers and how they can rethink cookies.
By Manreet Khara
2nd January 2023
There’s enough talk of a cookieless world–the privacy it will provide internet users with and the challenges it will pose to marketers. Most marketers don’t sound too thrilled about losing these little bits of coded trackers that provided them with certain types of data about users. To lamenting marketers, it can feel like a big loss as if this is a nightmare on sesame street, but we must understand that we are more than just cookie monsters. Those marketers that understand data aren’t as upset. Fearless marketers see the whole picture and are unfettered and undeterred by the loss of cookies.
Here’s what fearless marketers are going to do:
Prepare for sustained disruption. Smart marketers know that the paradigm shift that needs to happen takes some time. In any process that is heavily reliant on third-party data, there will be hiccups and struggles when the cookies go away.
No matter how seamless the transition is, the whole system is disrupted by any change and marketers would be wise to foresee this and prepare for it by gradually weaning their systems off their reliance on cookies.
Cookies have been a major source of location data, but they’re not the only sources of this information. Location data is collected by tech giants like Google and Facebook and can be sourced by allocating data capabilities to them.
For the purpose of targeted ads, data from cookies was instrumental. So in order to predict needs, marketers can use first-party data through collaborations for predictive modeling. These partnerships can be across brands and even industries, so as to replace third-party data with second-party data through data sharing. This data can also be collected directly from consumers and test groups through surveys.
Targeted ads from brands like to know what their consumers want and prefer, but third-party cookies sought maximum information without context as they were catering to a set of diverse industries. You only need to know who wants your product, and the way to find out is through contextual advertising and publisher targeting where your ads would only be placed on pages that would be visited by someone who needs or prefers your product. Second-party data partnerships would facilitate contextual advertising through ecosystem partnerships like one between a diaper brand and a baby oil brand, both of whom would want to target the same consumers, so would benefit from data sharing. They could host each other’s ads and also share data at the back end.
If you wanted to read your consumers’ minds, cookies were as helpful as a therapist leaking secrets. But an even better way perhaps is to ask the consumer directly! Build trust and ask for feedback. First-party data from direct consumer feedback will be the most reliable source of insight into the minds of your audience.
Within your organization, you may need new data infrastructure. Simplify the system. You are now the data collectors, so you need to organize it efficiently.
A team focused on data collection and management led by a data relationship manager must be able to communicate the data privacy measures your company is taking to build trust and ensure that the data is clean and honest.
While your data must be organized, it cannot be in silos. The essence of data sharing and data-partnerships is that data is more useful when it is shared. Communication is essential in a cookieless world, so make sure data flows freely through your teams to enhance context. Rethink analytics & ad measurement practices, moving from individuals to cohorts through smarter grouping and targeting practices.
The solution to data management within your organization is an efficient Consumer Data Platform (CDP), where all the information on a consumer–from how they found you, to their service feedback, from different departments–is stored in one place, building context and eventually a rich data repository. Now that your websites won’t track traffic the same way, use a single domain name to funnel all your traffic in one place and develop your web pages in a way that you can capture people-based durable identifiers. The identifiers, along with the CDP, should be able to facilitate predictive analytics.
Fearless marketers see the cookieless world as a unique opportunity to respect their consumer and ask them for their data, earning their trust. Marketers now know better than to track consumers secretly and pop an ad up after eavesdropping on a private conversation that merely mentioned a word. They know better than to be creepy. They understand the value of trust and are almost glad to be rid of the privacy threat.
Though cookies were threatening privacy, how do we replicate their delicious convenience? Some people are making it sound like this is the end of data collection and mining, but this is only the beginning! What is ending is only third party cookies- the ones consumers don’t trust- not such a big loss, eh?
But data collection is a vast and generous playing field with enough for everyone and everything for the fearless. All the data cookies were providing us with is still available through other avenues, and without the isolated decontextualized narrow understanding of variables that cookies provided with their silos and lack of correlation.
The problems of third party cookies are leaving along with them and we are free to develop a new paradigm of holistic information with context and make marketing more humanized even with automation. The sensitivity of correlation is born out of the context provided in voluntary data.
Create consumer trust with compelling consumer experiences
Get a good DRM system
Create value through personalization
Follow privacy regulations and tell consumers through data dialogue
Enable a better platform for consumer control of their data by investing in “Privacy by Design” with a data security center
Just Ask!- Data invitation
Give something in return, be it greater access, an ebook, or a discount. Why should they give you their data? There must be a worthy data value proposition.
In the absence of cookies, we must be more efficient with how we analyze the information that is available to us. It is prudent to look to systems that can handle our data and give insight that surpass the information cookies could have brought us.
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