How much of your revenue is reliant on third-party cookies?
We ask this question because Google has proposed to remove support for third-party cookies through its Chrome browser. Chrome is used by over 66.6% of the global desktop internet browser market, so blocking cookies will have a significant impact on the whole advertising and marketing industry.
Google intends to develop its technology through a Privacy Sandbox, intended to build innovations that protect anonymity, while simultaneously delivering results for advertisers and publishers.
While other browsers such as Firefox and Safari removed their third-party cookies years ago, Google now says they are not sustainable. Third-party cookies will not meet the increasing consumer expectations of privacy controls, nor will they comply with rapidly evolving regulatory restrictions.
If you think Google will create an alternative, think again. Google says they will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse the web, nor will they use them in their products. However, they are developing a new tool called Topics (a Privacy Sandbox proposal). Topics will keep your identity and searches hidden from advertisers as you browse. It will collect code from the websites you visit and collate information on your interests. It will categorise you with tags from a list of interests such as ‘travel and transport’ or ‘fitness’ and the data will be held for three weeks.
It is currently in early development stages, after which a trial will follow, before the final release is then produced.
The UK competition watchdog, the Competition and Markets Authority, was concerned about Google’s Privacy Sandbox with respect to competition in digital advertising and how it may entrench Google’s market dominance. As of February 2022, Google has made commitments that address the CMA’s concerns, including the adoption of compliance monitoring.
There are two types of cookies used on websites.
First-party cookies consist of information that is collected by your website for each of its visitors. This cookie remembers your visitors to give them a good user experience each time they visit your website. For example, they remember the products a shopper has placed in their shopping cart.
Third-party cookies track a consumer’s movements as they visit different websites to build consumer profiles or to provide targeted advertising. The information is collected by a third-party outside of your website such as Google.
Adform and Dynata research found that 75% of companies globally believe the removal of third-party cookies will impact their business.
However, 90% of marketers in the UK have no tested solution in place for 2022, and only 22% have a first-party ID solution.
Since Google’s Topics product is still being developed and the push for privacy continues, extensive changes to the way businesses collect data to understand, target, advertise and engage with your customers will ensue.
Here are some ideas on how you can prepare your business for the removal of third-party cookies.
Step 1 - Collect first-party data
Improve the way your business collects its customer first-party data to become familiar with and understand them. That way when third-party cookies are removed, your business and marketers are not reliant on indirect data sources. Collecting first-party data means you own this data and can use it to inform your marketing and sales campaigns.
Remember, any mechanism for collecting first-party data must consider existing regulations that govern its collection and use. In the UK it is The Data Protection Act 2018.
Companies who prepare before the cut-off will put themselves in a position to obtain a competitive advantage.
etika’s embedded secure finance provides its clients with a data-rich source of information on customers through the checkout – this is a great example of information you can use to build up your data warehouse.
Step 2 - Unify your data
Your first-party data is only valuable if used in a meaningful way. Your customer data may be sitting in silos scattered across your business, and best practice is to consolidate all in-house first-party data sources.
Look to your customer service and marketing departments, customer loyalty programs, POS transactions in store, social media, lead management, after-sales support, eCommerce sales and logistics to bring the data together into a panoramic, privacy compliant and actionable view of consumer profiles. With this view as the foundation of customer data in your business (that is accurate, provides insights that are more actionable and is agile against external influences), you are set up to obtain maximum value from your data.
Anchoring a powerful data management platform will help you to capture and activate your consumer data, to efficiently strengthen consumer relationships across every touchpoint. If your business doesn’t have the resources to do this in-house, there are vendors to help consolidate data across multiple sources and channels to apply segments and share journey stages with your marketing applications.
To supplement customer data, information from third-party data sources such as Nielsen DMP or OnAudience, utilise artificial intelligence and other innovative technology to analyse user behaviour to extend the information.
Step 3 - Get creative with your data
Without third-party cookies, the reliance on easily obtained third-party data for short-term marketing campaigns needs to be reduced. A valuable focal point of o the customer experience strategy is first-party data. It will be crucial to spread marketing budgets across a broad range of online channels, using customer data capture to influence paid-for online ads, traditional marketing and PR and influencer partnerships.
So how do you reach your target audience in a cookie-less world?
Go back to basics. Invest in and concentrate on content creation and email marketing to build stronger relationships with customers. They’ll enjoy the content and you’ll continually gain valuable insights and data.
Keyword or keyword contextual-based advertising is the next best option to cookie-based behavioural targeting.
Refocus on producing and distributing ads that are relevant to the content on the screen – for example, an ad for a suitcase pops up in a travel article. Dust off your keyword playbook, to create contextual ads that are relevant to your audience and your brand will be seen as more relevant and less creepy!
Use inviteUse invited personalisation marketing to collect first-party data from membership and loyalty programs, or surveys and quizzes. Incentivise the consumer to participate in a value exchange with initiatives such as loyalty schemes, helpful information, exclusives and member discounts.
With third-party cookies gone and continued investment by eCommerce businesses, we’ll see renewed online growth that relies on consumers who are happy to participate in a value exchange that facilitates a more personalised shopping experience.