Digital marketers need to start preparing for changes to how data is gathered via third-party cookies. To help, we gathered a panel of industry experts to discuss how advertisers can navigate a landscape stripped of third-party cookies.
The third-party cookies phaseout at-a-glance
Why are third-party cookies such a hot topic in 2021?
Who will be impacted most by the decision to phase out third-party cookies?
How will the decision to phase out third-party cookies impact advertisers?
Sleepless nights have been a lot more common for marketers and advertisers since Google announced it would block third-party cookies.
The tech giant has pushed back the deadline to mid-2023, but the race is on for organizations to nail down new strategies and ensure they can maintain meaningful customer relationships without third-party cookies.
It’s going to be a big change for many organizations and it gets the full attention of some of the most experienced names in the market in our latest webinar, Preparing for a Cookieless World, Future-proof Solutions for Meaningful Customer Experiences.
Impact of the pending third-party cookie block
The biggest impact for marketers and advertisers is that most are going to have to rethink and remodel their existing customer engagement campaigns, which have become reliant on affordable and scalable third-party cookie strategies.
Andre Yee, Founder at Triblio says: "One of the chief impacts of third-party cookies being phased out is really the impact to advertising. I think what third-party cookies gave marketers was an easy and inexpensive way to get reach at scale.”
How targeted and effective that reach actually was is open to debate, he says, but it was an approach the market had got very used to. "Third-party cookies advertising; programmatic advertising—we have been on that drug for a long time. It is going to be painful to get off it."
In short, the challenge for marketers and advertisers is to rebuild the basis of their audience relationships. It is not an insurmountable task by any means, but it demands they rethink the status quo.
First and foremost, if you’re an organization and you want to prepare for this post third-party cookie world you’ve got to get started with managing your own data in a privacy-safe way and do consent management actively around your own data.
Different options to replace third-party cookies
The good news is that there are a number of options available to marketers and advertisers looking to take a different approach on customer engagement.
Yee continues: "Speaking particularly to advertising, there are a lot of initiatives being proposed, but I think there are two that jump out. One is actually what Google itself is proposing, which is known as Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), and is part of their privacy sandbox initiative… The other initiative that is interesting is called Unified ID 2.0."
Essentially, FLoC uses your browsing history to get a sense of your interests and to then put you into a particular cohort. And as part of that cohort, advertisers and marketers can target you with their content.
Unified ID 2.0 creates a unique identifier based on a hashed and encrypted email address. If the website a user visits supports Unified ID 2.0, it can then serve you up appropriate content based on your anonymized identity.
Neither of these potential solutions are silver bullets and both have teething problems to overcome.
For Unified ID 2.0, there are question marks over consumer acceptance in the B2C market, while there have been a number of issued raised about FLoC's ability to comply with the criteria of global privacy regulations.
FLoC will also take time to reach critical mass. Mike Anderson, CTO and Founder of Tealium, says: "It will take time to fill and roll out FLoC enabled browsers. Then you get to the point where you have audiences who have not updated to something that is FLoC enabled."
Commenting on FLoC’s ownership, he adds: "I think FLoC would have a better chance of succeeding of it was rolled out by a third-party, independent system rather than as something that was managed by Google."
But before organizations invest all their time and effort into seeking out an external solution, Anderson believes there is a lot they could do for themselves.
"I believe many businesses should focus predominantly on building better customer experiences, and they should start with that," he says. "Once they have done that, they can then look at leveraging the tools that are out there to support it. How many times have you unsubscribed from an email that was well written, had relevant content and was well timed? Never."
Growing your impact in a world without third-party cookies
As organizations wean themselves off third-party cookies, they are paying greater attention to how they engage with new and existing customers and the content they use in these exchanges.
This is going to be an increasingly crucial consideration going forward. Making this point, David Gang, Brightspot's CEO and Co-founder, says: "People talk about the customer journey all the time. They need to be talking about the content journey as well. It is really about taking that content and presenting it at the right place, at the right time, to the right audience. It is important to invest in both sides of that to be better marketers."
Taking the argument a step further he adds: "The way that technologies have been built over the last couple of decades is a little upside down for the next generation world. You now have to start thinking about the user as the most important part of everything you do in the technology stack and not treat them as just a part of it."
We’ve always felt that it was about building a better first-party relationship with your customers and exchanging first-party data in a way that they were aware of.
In what is a more thoughtful approach to customer engagement strategy, it is also true that quantity should not take priority over quantity.
Anderson comments: "A lot of companies think the way to double their business is to shove a lot more leads into the top of the funnel. But many of them have very narrow conversion rates at the bottom and so we feel that it is not about bringing twice as many people, but about getting more conversions out of the people you already have and widening the bottom of the funnel. You do that by building better customer experiences."
And the better those experiences, the more willing customers will be to give consent to your organization to use their data and provide them with content going forward.
It is this more meaningful relationship that waits for organizations who can get their strategy correct and Yee says: "If you want to prepare for this post third-party cookie world, you’ve got to get started with managing your own data in a privacy-safe way and actively doing consent management around your own data."
There are no simple answers for organizations as they contemplate being unable to lean on third-party cookies. But if they can develop an excellent customer experience, couple it with relevant and appropriate content and proactively manage their first-party relationships, there is no reason they should not be able to prosper in the years ahead.
The good news is that there is buy-in at a senior level to get these strategies right, given the impact they will have on businesses and their ability to enable organizations to steal a march on competitors over the coming months.
Gang concludes: "I think everyone has got a big investment to make in technology, whether it is existing or new technologies that they are going to use and/or develop along the way. I cannot imagine that a thoughtful executive team is not wanting to hear about this today."
To view the full discussion, watch the webinar.