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As third-party cookie data becomes obsolete; marketing executives must prepare for a future of consent-based and cookieless advertising. But how can marketing organizations effectively target and engage with consumers using cookieless marketing and data strategies?
The enormous growth in online ad revenues within the last 20 years is primarily due to the fine-tuned targeting enabled by third-party cookies.
They allowed advertisers and marketing leaders to experiment with different approaches and techniques, strengthening brand-customer interactions. For instance, the prevalence of social channels has dramatically changed how brands interact and engage with their clients in the B2B and B2C spaces.
In addition, big data and artificial intelligence (AI) advancements have enabled marketers to target better and message consumers and, more importantly, evaluate the efficacy of those approaches. Ultimately, third-party cookies were and still are critical to these advancements.
There’s no denying that 3rd party cookie deprecation is about providing internet users with greater transparency and better consent management. But the questions remain, what are the alternatives to third-party cookies, and what do the future cookieless solutions look like for advertisers and marketing executives?
This article will dig into the third-party and first-party cookie definitions, Google’s cookie announcement, and its impact on digital marketing. It will also examine how to prepare for a cookieless future.
Third-party Cookies Definition
Third-party cookies are the data that adtech companies place on users’ devices and access across multiple websites over time. They enable businesses to observe what they are looking at and interacting with while providing insights into the prospect’s preferences, demographics, geographic area, and other data.
Let’s look at the third-party cookies example. When a user visits the news website, the cookies that initially live on its domain are first-party. Third-party cookies are placed by another website, advertiser, or social media platform.
First-party Cookies Definition
The publisher or a website owner places first-party cookies on the site. They collect user information for the publisher or owner while enhancing the user experience by matching user preferences. First-party cookies save relevant user data like usernames, language preferences, passwords, or items added to shopping carts.
Here are the principal differences between third- and first-party cookies.
What Does “Cookieless” Mean?
The term cookieless digital marketing refers to a strategy in which marketing professionals rely less on cookies.
When exploring the idea and concept of a cookieless world, it’s crucial to examine three parties involved in this significant marketing ecosystem shift.
Consumers are at the bottom of the pyramid and have long been irritated by intrusive digital marketing practices and irrelevant targeting but couldn’t intervene. After acknowledging consumers’ rage and frustration, businesses have started considering customers’ expectations when designing customer experiences.
The second party is tech companies like Apple or Google that have implemented cookie restrictions, significantly impacting the technological basis of all digital marketing efforts.
Marketing experts are the third party in this ecosystem that benefits from technological advancements. For them, gearing up for a cookieless world means creating innovative techniques and approaches to convert prospects into customers.
These techniques will allow digital marketers to create personalized experiences based on stable identifiers linked to known customer profiles and captured personal information.
Why Is Google Phasing Out Cookies?
Consumers, privacy experts, and advocates have become deeply concerned about how some adtech companies and marketers use third-party cookies for retargeting and tracking.
The advancement of retargeting, allowing advertisers to send targeted ads to visitors, has made this tracking more visible and frustrated many users. The main issues were the absence of transparency and explicit consent.
After the announcement about 3rd party cookie deprecation, marketing experts had to face all the possible outcomes and start getting ready for Google cookies to go away. At the heart of Google’s intent to remove the support for third-party cookies is the wish to build a more private web, protect anonymity but keep delivering results and offering value to publishers and advertisers.
But there’s no denying that Google getting rid of cookies will affect B2B and B2C advertising alike, preventing advertisers and marketing experts from tracking user behavior and habits.
After the introduction of Privacy Sandbox, which Google called “a secure environment for personalization” and claimed that it was also designed to protect user privacy, the industry feedback was mixed.
That resulted in the company’s decision to delay cookie-cutting until late 2024, making it clear that what Google hoped to achieve with the Privacy Sandbox keeps proving more challenging than the company anticipated.
What Is the Cookieless Future?
The term “cookieless future” implies a transformation in the digital environment and technology ecosystem due to Google’s cookie announcement.
Since most digital marketing activity relies on third-party cookie data, the vast majority of the ad tech sector is in a mad dash to find viable advertising solutions in a cookieless world. At this point, the principal concern for marketing executives is the quality and volume of the first-party data they’ll need to assess the effectiveness of a company’s use of specific cookie replacements.
While cookieless digital marketing has yet to become our present, it certainly lays the foundation for our future, making it hard to figure out how the ad tech industry will make it work and what to expect from this shift.
The Impact of a Cookieless Future
One thing’s clear: marketing in a cookieless world will be very different from what marketing executives can even imagine today. It should not be surprising that the implications of third-party cookie depreciation will be felt throughout the digital advertising ecosystem and across all levels of ad tech organizations.
After all, third-party cookies have long been a pillar of digital marketing, and their demise will force marketing professionals to reconsider fundamental problems such as targeting and attribution.
Industry leaders and marketers must focus on identifying and implementing targeting and media buying strategies that do not depend on third-party cookies. It can be contextual advertising, cohort marketing, or connected TV.
They can also look for data or audience partnerships that will allow the companies to target prospective clients and existing customers across digital channels.
Here are some anticipated consequences for platforms, channels, measurement tactics, and marketing approaches associated with third-party cookie depreciation.
Source: Merkle | Cardinal Path
That suggests that marketers should be doubling down on the following areas in the coming years:
- Manage data collection: Consumers have more control over their experiences than ever, so businesses must constantly work to develop new touchpoints and personalize these interactions. Apart from looking for reliable first-party data sources, they need an all-in-one platform for marketing automation like Phonexa to track, collect, manage, analyze, and organize data from multiple sources.
- Leverage AI capabilities for consumer insights: The ability of AI to form connections that the human mind cannot is a symbol of its power and potential. Therefore, ensuring your long-term strategy or marketing solutions include AI can help you leverage first-party data and find new sales opportunities.
- Establish second-party data relationships: With appropriate data partnerships, businesses can understand their audience better. In other words, looking for complementary solutions, publishers, and partners will allow learning more about the shared audiences.
Naturally, there are still some unanswered questions about how a cookieless future and digital landscape will work, but that doesn’t mean ad tech companies are indecisive or directionless.
Retargeting in a Cookieless World
It’s no secret that most advertisers use third-party cookies for their retargeting campaigns. But since third-party cookies will become obsolete one day, how will a cookieless retargeting work?
The good news is that retargeting in a post-cookie world is still possible. For instance, companies can accomplish the mission by creating landing pages for their ad campaigns. Then, they can launch retargeting campaigns aiming at the visitors who arrive at the landing pages.
On top of that, businesses should consider focusing on the following two components required to understand how to prepare for a cookieless world:
- Hashing email data: Encrypted email addresses will likely become primary identifiers, allowing advertisers to target consumers wherever they are online, including social media, websites, and apps. Ultimately, hashed emails will enable businesses to transition from cookie-based to people-based marketing.
- First-party cookie IDs: These IDs are stored on company websites to collect information about user activity. IDs with third parties like marketing platforms will help you match customers’ website activity to their hashed email data. This way, you’ll eliminate the need for customers to log in each time they visit while allowing you to identify and retarget them anonymously.
However, marketers are still looking for the most effective ways to adapt to a post-cookie world and for an alternative to cookies. Let’s take a closer look at how ad tech companies, brands, and marketers can prepare for the 3rd party cookies going away.
How To Adapt in a Cookieless World
First and foremost, a cookieless future is not all bad. Advertisers and publishers will benefit from an upcoming shift by evolving and using other data types and cookieless digital marketing tactics.
For instance, they can use context and location data to deliver personalized ads to consumers or utilize a marketing automation platform offering predictive modeling to assess the likely outcomes of new marketing initiatives.
Let’s examine, in more detail, how ad tech companies can fill in the gaps once the third-party cookies are dead and gone.
Use First-party Cookies
First-party data refers to accurate information about clients and prospects you collect. It typically includes email addresses, demographics, phone numbers, and more.
Here’s how it works: consumer devices store first-party cookies, but the primary function of first-party cookies is to recognize returning visitors and their preferences. They also assist website owners and publishers with data analysis and ad campaigns.
One of the biggest challenges for businesses is identifying reliable sources of first-party data. Here are some of the best sources to consider:
|First-party Data Source||Description|
|#1. Company website||A company website contains a wealth of data on visitors and customers, such as transactions, names, or email addresses, which can be used for retargeting and engagement ad campaigns.|
|#2. Email and SMS||Marketers can collect and capitalize on granular first-party data with the help of email and SMS marketing. With E-Delivery – Phonexa’s robust email and SMS marketing platform, businesses can consolidate captured data, refine email lists, and deliver personalized messages to consumers.|
|#3. Phone calls||Since many meaningful customer interactions can occur during phone calls, it’s essential to implement a call tracking solution. Call Logic – Phonexa’s call intelligence platform – can enable small businesses and enterprises to collect first-party data, learn more about their digital efforts and clients, and acquire detailed attribution.|
Focus on Online Identifiers
Online identifiers can help marketers recognize visitors accessing websites, apps, or online tools in a post-cookie world. For instance, it can be an IP address, MAC address, or pixel tag. This way, marketers can create data traces and combine them with these unique identifiers to segment users and distinguish them from one another.
Leverage Contextual Targeting
What is contextual targeting? The term implies placing the most relevant ads in the most appropriate context. For instance, it can be an advertisement for a skin product in a women’s magazine or placing an ad promoting a new car on a car-related TV channel. The principal idea is that the high-intent audience will see these ads and act on them.
Since the cookieless future is all about privacy and a secure digital environment, this approach allows creating personalization without invading user privacy and ensuring brand safety by giving marketers control over the content that appears alongside ads.
Collect Zero-party Data
Marketing executives know zero-party data is unquestionably the most meaningful and challenging to obtain. While there are numerous ways of collecting it, it is always up to users to provide it.
Here are some of the common ways to obtain zero-party data:
- Ask questions during the registration
- Launch conversational pop-ups
- Create post-call IVR surveys and post-purchase surveys
- Ask about email marketing preferences
- Initiate social media surveys and polls
Ultimately, zero-party data allows for creating more personalized experiences and establishing long-term customer relationships.
Capitalize on Cohort Marketing
Cohort analysis refers to utilizing behavior data and information consolidated from different platforms or web apps to divide it into groups for further examination. These groups, otherwise known as cohorts, have common traits and characteristics.
If you’re new to behavioral analysis, you might need clarification on why the terms “segments” and “cohorts” are used interchangeably. You first need to know that these two terms are not synonymous, and here are the principal differences between cohorts and segments:
In the cookieless world, cohort analysis will help marketers determine what connects users who take similar actions and design ad campaigns accordingly.
Keep Up With New Developments
Since Google is the determiner of the cookieless future; the digital world is waiting for the company to offer cookieless future solutions when the time comes. But as mentioned before, the process is not that simple.
Implementing FLoC (Federated Learning of Cohorts) was Google’s initial proposal. As a cohort-based system, it aimed to group users based on their interests. The idea was to ensure user privacy and enable advertisers to target customers and prospects.
However, this approach created a new challenge: creating cohorts that are large enough while still having attributes for precise and reliable personalization. As a result, the idea was abandoned by Google in January 2022.
The latest proposal is Topics – a system that enables a browser to identify specific topics representing users’ top interests based on their weekly browsing history.
But what’s next to come, and what should marketing executives look forward to when it comes to cookieless advertising? The matter continues to be a source of concern, causing marketers to monitor new developments and prepare for all possible outcomes.
Start Unifying Your Marketing Data Today
Finding the best mix of cookieless marketing tactics to target, reach, and engage with your audience will take time and effort. But one thing’s clear: to compete in a cookieless world, you must do everything right.
Marketing leaders must stand out and conquer marketing in a cookieless world to unify their marketing data and manage it across their ecosystem. This way, they will understand the efficacy of their digital output and ensure that their operations are efficient and profitable.
Learn more about how Phonexa’s suite of solutions for marketing automation can help your business deal with 3rd party cookie deprecation and adapt your marketing mix by scheduling a consultation with one of our experts.
Frequently Asked Questions
Why are cookies going away?
Google’s reasoning for cookie deprecation is the users’ need for privacy, transparency, and more control over their personal information. In a nutshell, Google is advancing while striving to create an ecosystem that meets these rising user demands.
Are first-party cookies going away?
First-party cookies will not be removed because they are always active and are essential for website performance.
When are cookies going away?
Google has postponed its plan to remove third-party cookies in Chrome until late 2024.
What does a cookieless world mean?
The synonymous terms “cookieless world” and “cookieless future” refer to Google’s initial announcement on cookies going away in 2023. The company’s decision will have ramifications for most sites and ad strategies.
How do you prepare for a cookieless world?
By developing first-party data strategies that reduce the reliance on third-party cookies, marketers will create comprehensive customer profiles that include data collected with users’ consent and are not limited by browser restrictions.
What happens if you do not embrace cookieless marketing?
Preparing for a cookieless future implies adopting cookieless tracking and cookieless targeting. If marketers do not embrace it, they will be left in the dark when Google delivers on its promise to phase out 3rd party cookies. Therefore, they’ll be forced to serve the same marketing messages and content to everyone, regardless of their stage in the customer journey.
What are the leading marketing alternatives to third-party cookies?
There’s no denying that marketers will look for an alternative to third-party cookies. The best approach is to consider several options, like capturing zero- or first-party data and utilizing digital fingerprinting, data pools, and contextual advertising.
How can brands adapt their marketing mix?
A more balanced and healthy marketing mix implies greater marketing transparency. As Google reconfigures its data regulations, products, and capabilities, marketing leaders in charge of ad budgets, media mix, planning, and measurement must adjust strategies and adapt to future cookieless advertising.
With the help of marketing mix modeling (MMM), ad tech companies and marketers will understand global marketing trends, like seasonality or brand equity. Ultimately, MMM offers a more comprehensive picture and a way to answer simple questions about the buyer journey.