As the data privacy regulations ride their momentum of introducing new directives, we now stand in front of the latest shift – phasing out of third-party cookies’ support in Chrome browser scheduled to happen by 2022. Google has announced its plan to phase out support for third-party cookies, following Firefox and Safari browsers’ footsteps that have blocked third-party cookies since 2013.
This data privacy movement is not news. Over the last decade, we have witnessed data privacy coming into the spotlight ever since the European Union updated its Privacy Directive to encompass cookie consent collection from individuals, giving them the right to refuse cookie use on them.
Later on, regulations such as CCPA and GDPR have shown how governments are moving the needle to protect the privacy rights of website users.
Over the years, cookie applications across the internet have become more transparent with both organisations and consumers.
Naturally, the most prominent players in the tech industry – Google and Apple – have detected an opportunity to showcase the embodiment of the ‘trust’ value by standing by the customer and its data privacy rights.
Still, Google’s latest move on eliminating the support for third-party cookies will hit most marketers hard, as Chrome holds almost 65% of the browser market share.
Why do third-party cookies matter?
Third-party cookies are the primary mechanism by which companies track users across the web. The main distinction between first-party and third-party cookies is that first-party cookies are generated by the website that a user is visiting. Therefore, they are deployed to remember preferences and shopping carts.
On the other hand, third-party cookies exist on the website users visit, however, being third-party means — they are not owned by the specific website they have visited.
Third-party cookies enable companies to cross-track users online even if they don’t visit their website directly. This way, companies can cast a wider net for targeting and advertising purposes. Advertisers rely on them to understand consumer behaviour, actions and attribution.
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How will this change affect organisations?
The overall implication will be evident in ads becoming less relevant. Since targeted advertising relies on third-party cookies, chances are, more web users will notice those ‘out of the blue’ ads.
However, if users browse a specific website, their experience on that website can still be personalised due to first-party cookies.
Third-party cookies withdrawal effects on marketing departments (aside from frustration and overwhelm) will have a few symptoms:
- First-party data will become critical
- User’s web behaviour will be less understandable
- Attribution across the customer journey will be unattainable
- Targeted advertising will become difficult
- Measuring overall ad performance will be challenging
- Digital campaign effectiveness will become unclear
- Wasted marketing resources due to less-informed budget allocation decisions
How can organisations navigate the cookieless future?
Changing the attitude towards data privacy is paramount. If marketers aren’t building long-term sustainable solutions that will endure the next data privacy regulation, they will face the same challenges in the future.
To effectively meet the cookieless future, marketers can:
1. Focus on first-party data optimisation
85% of U.S. marketers say increasing their use of first-party data is a high priority. The simplest way forward is strategising data and tech ownership to obtain the most usability of first-party data. Integration of the martech stack will enable tying data from different sources and eventually will help stitch the customer image. Organisations will have to focus on allowing visitors to identify themselves. This process can be done by levelling up on visitor authentication through value exchange practice in the form of personalised offering or exclusive product add-ons.
2. Implement a transparent data collection practise
Another crucial step in positioning your organisation as a trustworthy leader with which visitors will happily interact is implementing best-in-class cookie consent management solutions. The customer tracking consent should be freely given and unambiguous, followed by an explicit affirmative action.
3. Upgrade one-on-one engagements
Interactions with visitors and customers are already taking the spotlight through channels such as email and chatbots. AI-driven conversational chatbots on the company’s website help visitors engage and share their preferences more conveniently. This channel, in return, is valuable to organisations to double down on first-party customer data. Another channel that uses one-on-one interaction is email — which is still one of the most effective marketing channels that don’t collect cookies but is extremely valuable in understanding customers.
4. Leverage second-party data partnerships
Platforms such as Google and Facebook provide collected audience data retrieved from users across their platforms, otherwise known as Walled Garden data. This data can be put into practice by organisations for contextual targeting purposes. Another route to take is to use publishers — by applying their first-party data leading publishers can provide specific customer segment targeting.
5. Employ AI-driven attribution
With second-party data, organisations can leverage look-alike modeling to reach new customers and then apply AI-driven attribution to better understand their behaviour across channels and segments. This data-driven approach helps identify offline and online touchpoints along with the events that influence customer journeys.
How is your organisation preparing for a cookieless world? Head over to our LinkedIn comment section to join us in this discussion and share your opinions.
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