The cookie has crumbled, heavily altering the digital advertising landscape. Marketers rely on cookies for personalization solutions for their digital advertising campaigns. However, with new rules banning or restricting cookies in several countries, businesses must find new ways to target their audience and adjust to the new landscape.
Marketers now have multiple questions when creating campaigns, ranging from ad fraud to targeting capabilities, and efficiency of overall outcomes. They need to prepare for improving customer experience in a cookieless marketing future.
What are cookies?
When you visit a website, cookies are small bits of text (or code) the site sends to and stores in your browser. These cookies contain information such as unique user IDs, the site’s name, login details, language preferences, and more.
The difference between first and third-party cookies
First and Third-party cookies collect data and provide personalized experiences and help optimize engaging content.
First-party cookies are created by the website owner and collect user analytics data and personal information which helps run the site better. First-party cookies help understand user behavior by tracking users as they migrate through a website and improve their user experience by remembering settings and preferences to create a more fluid web experience.
In contrast, third-party cookies are not created by the website owner. They are instead created by advertising companies and other web platforms for tracking, re-targeting, and ad-serving purposes. Third-party cookies are not stored by the website. They can be used for wider targeting, audience profiling, and cross-tracking of ads.
For example, a brand may be interested in targeting individuals moving to a specific location, but may not be able to get relevant targeting data from their first-party sources. This may be due to limited organic traffic, an expansion of their service area, or many other reasons where their own data falls short of that they would need to target their intended audience properly.
In those cases, they could explore third-party data of their target audience as a possible solution. A platform that has used third-party cookies could provide multiple data sources regarding demographics to help the company best target its intended audience.
Both types of cookies can make a person’s experience personalized and engaging. They help businesses target users through paid advertising channels relevant to their interests.
This storage of data has serious implications for privacy. There is little visibility into which companies are processing user data and exactly how they are using it. For some users, this hyper-targeting feels invasive instead of interesting, and regulatory arms in several countries agree Thus companies like Google and Apple have taken steps to remove 3P(third-party) cookies in Chrome and Safari device identifiers, respectively.
This creates the need for cookieless marketing: a way to target users without tracking them via cookies. Marketers are now forced to find creative solutions that are more consumer-focused and privacy-friendly.
How to use cookieless marketing for any business
Cookieless digital marketing is the future of online advertising and marketing.
The onset of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and new data privacy regulations across the globe have led to stringent changes in the way businesses process, store, and use consumer data. This has resulted in new challenges for businesses and marketers since they now have to come up with alternatives that don’t depend on tracking customers through third-party cookies.
Cookieless marketing requires marketers to adapt and build scalable solutions in their media buying activities. To manage the change, don’t avoid; evolve!
First party data
First-party data is usually collected from sign-ups, loyalty programs, webinar registrations, and other downloads. This data can help marketers understand the user’s interests and preferences. Marketers can use this information for personalized ads that the user wants to see on their browser. This increases the level of intent to buy which is excellent for the business. Improving first-party data collection through the latest info-capturing techniques is helpful to build up a sufficient amount of data. First-party data strategies help improve digital marketing efforts through direct customer acquisition and customer loyalty strategies.
Zero-party data is defined as customer-provided or customer-generated data that directly and explicitly reveals something about the user’s preferences. It is considered the most valuable type of data because it is not simply revealed, like first-party data, but rather provided to a brand directly by the customer.
For example, if a user registers for an account with their favorite author’s website or newsletter, they may provide personal information such as their age, gender, and interests related to writing. This allows for personalized experiences through products or services tailored to those exact interests in mind.
Organizations or brands are on their own when it comes to collecting zero-party data from users. Rather than relying on third-party platforms or tools to generate that data, companies must actively solicit it from users via registration processes, email polls, or social media interactions.
Through these methods, and others such as loyalty programs and surveys, customers can be encouraged to provide accurate information about their preferences that could significantly enhance a company’s overall knowledge base of customers. By accumulating this type of knowledge a business can offer better customer service, increasing convenience and satisfaction over time while reducing churn rates and overall costs incurred in difficult conversations with uninterested parties.
Contextual targeting is also one way to skip the concept of cookies in marketing. Marketers can target users based on the kind of content they consume. This information helps marketers customize and personalize ads for a better user journey. Using geo-targeting to generate engagement and lead to increased communication can significantly help. For example, with partnerships like GumGum, DV, and Peer 39, illumin targets based on keywords, affinity, tone, and mindsets. You can create effective personalization without infringing on the consumer’s privacy.
Browser APIs offer invaluable insights when it comes to optimizing user engagement and facilitating interest-based marketing campaigns. The proposed Chrome browser API automates the task of recognizing and tracking topics of interest based on an individual’s browsing activities over a period of three weeks. This data can then be used to generate more personalized ads tailored specifically for each person according to their browsing habits.
However, successfully making use of browser APIs requires users’ consent, as they will have control over which topics are visible and activated at any given time. As a result, websites must ensure transparency by properly laying out their Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policies before opting for such services or asking for users’ permission to track information beforehand. Deploying such browser APIs can be highly beneficial in terms of marketing initiatives so long as the customer is informed about what is being collected from them and kept at liberty to make decisions concerning their personal data.
Device fingerprinting is storing information without cookies through a unique fingerprint. Fingerprint technology can track user behavior across devices and websites. This allows marketers to understand what users want and provide relevant information.
This technology lets digital marketers get an overall picture of user behavior and interests even if they cannot identify them specifically. Because it relies partly on identifying machines or networks rather than individuals, device fingerprints cannot be spoofed or blocked like traditional tracking methods.
That said, the data is not always entirely accurate because many users share similar device profiles, which leads to inaccuracies in understanding user intent and behavior. In spite of these shortcomings, device fingerprinting remains a remarkably effective tool for precise targeting in cookieless marketing campaigns.
Marketers also need to prepare for disruption with the right strategy. Rethinking ad measurement practices and the media mix will help prepare for cookieless marketing. Marketers may need to increase investments in data solutions from tech giants like Amazon, Google, and Facebook and also technology, media, and data.
The future is consent-based marketing which will set the base for data-driven advertising and media planning.
Since Google has set a two-year deadline for phasing out third-party cookies on the Chrome browser, there will be little impact on digital marketing in the short term. The use of third-party data for personalization on both owned media (on-website) and paid media (advertising on other websites and channels) may continue for the time being, but the clock is ticking.
Consumers will have more visibility about who collects their data and how it is used, as well as more privacy and transparency. In order to achieve the same level of personalization in the consumer journey and targeting that third-party cookies have provided, the entire digital community must come up with cookieless marketing strategies and solutions at all levels that address privacy, transparency, and data ethics concerns as well as the new mandatory practices around the same.
Marketers and publishers need to partner with the right technology platforms to survive and thrive in the changing landscape. It is also important to diversify into other media channels such as CTV and DOOH so that the erosion of cookies will not impact inventory and have a better cookieless marketing strategy overall.