Third party cookies are nearly out the door and marketers are becoming increasingly nervous about it. Mozilla Firefox was the first to stop using third party cookies in 2019, with Apple Safari following suit in 2020. Google Chrome will put the final nail in the coffin when its ban goes into effect in 2023.
But fear not, because personalized engagement isn’t gone for good. First party data can deliver, and for many marketers already is delivering, unique customer insights. However, to stay competitive, marketers must increasingly prioritize the ethical collection of first party data. Once Google Chrome’s cookie ban goes into effect, first party data will become the primary data source for personalized marketing.
Below are a few ways that marketers can better prepare for the loss of third party cookies. Apply these strategies now, and you won’t be scrambling to survive without third party cookies in two years.
Use First-Party Data for Better Personalization
Google, Mozilla, and Apple made the decision to cease the use of third-party cookies in response to consumers’ growing privacy concerns. Many felt uneasy with the idea that companies continued to track their behavior as they moved from website to website.
That said, the majority of consumers still want an individualized shopping experience. Nielsen’s 2021 Annual Marketing Report stated that 90 percent of U.S. shoppers enjoy personalization when online. What they don’t want is to feel as though an individualized shopping experience comes at the cost of being under surveillance by third-party cookies.
Consumers’ desire for personalization is currently at odds with marketer’s prioritization of it. In that same study, Nielson revealed that only 13 percent of medium-sized companies, and 2 percent of large companies identified personalization as their top marketing strategy. With the loss of third-party cookies, there is a risk marketers will continue to move personalization to the bottom of the list.
The truth is marketers shouldn’t feel that the loss of third-party cookies means they will be unable to deliver the personalization consumers still want. In fact, they may get better at it as their data becomes more accurate. This is because first party data is collected directly from your customers, whereas third party data is purchased from someone else. In some cases, it’s sold several times over before it lands in your hands.
Direct acquisition of a customer’s behavioral data means more accurate behavioral insights for personalization campaigns. First party data collection won’t deliver the immediate gratification that third-party data offers because it takes more work upfront to establish collection points. But once you’ve done so, you will have cleaner, more precise data with which to personalize the customer experience.
Catch-Up With the Competition
Companies that are already collecting first party data will be at an advantage when the third-party cookie ban goes into effect. This includes Google, which already has successful advertising tools that collect first party data from their users.
Those companies that haven’t yet invested heavily, or at all, in first party data collection, need to get started sooner rather than later. Below are several strategies companies can use to do so.
1. Adopt a multichannel sales approach: Businesses that give customers a combination of purchasing platforms have a big edge over brands that only operate in one channel. A multichannel sales approach includes a combination of things like; brick-and-mortar stores, e-commerce websites, mobile apps and more. Multiple channels give brands multiple opportunities to collect first party data.
2. Invest in loyalty programs: Personalized, first-party data strategies that include loyalty programs will become critically important for brands. Incentivized customers are more willing to share data with you voluntarily, increasing data quantity and accuracy.
3. Carve new data collection pathways: Consider overhauling your brand voice and content strategy to better connect with your customers. Update items like your website landing pages, social media campaigns and marketing email messaging.
Future-Proof Your Digital Advertising Strategy
Online marketing campaigns will be run differently after third party cookies disappear, and standards for digital ads and their rate of success will likely change. Once personalization is no longer powered by third-party tracking cookies, digital advertising will become less effective for a time. Many companies will react to this loss by increasing the volume of their digital advertising buys.
As we move into this new phase, it will be the job of marketers to prepare for these changes, future-proof their brands against a digital advertising upheaval, and make sure that their outreach isn’t drowned out by the increased volume of digital advertising. The third-party cookie ban means that marketers need to become more innovative, and first-party data can help.
The third-party data that your company is purchasing for personalized digital advertising is also being purchased by your competitor. First-party data is owned by you alone. It gives your company a proprietary look at what motivates your customers to click and purchase. The accuracy of first-party data will also give marketers greater confidence that their personalized ads are going to resonate with their target audience.
New Strategy, New Mindset
The third-party cookie ban ultimately means that consumer needs and expectations are changing, and the industry will have to change along with them. It’s never smart to be stuck in one mindset for too long, or to rely on one method of advertising without planning backups or alternatives.
The cookie ban should be viewed as an opportunity, rather than as a source of frustration. Internet search engines have done the work of identifying a growing customer concern and adopted their policies to address it. Marketers who take a consumer-first approach will find that their digital marketing strategies are also in line with consumer desires.
Learn more about how your brand can gain an advantage during the transition away from third-party cookies in this new whitepaper from Eagle Eye, The Cookie Might Be Dead, But Loyalty Isn’t.
The author, Joel Percy is an experienced Loyalty and CRM executive with deep expertise in retail personalization and data monetization. He is currently the Regional Director at Eagle Eye, where he helps clients grow loyalty and drive sales by building digital connections with their customers.