Nowadays, it’s nearly impossible to enter a website that doesn’t require users to accept cookies. There seems to be no corner of the world wide web where consumer data isn’t being mined; however, Google has recently pledged a change.
Privacy concern for most consumers rests in the fact that direct or first-party data can become indirectly used through third-party publishers, telling a larger story than we consent to. This gives an advantage to brands, marketers, and apps which are designed to encourage engagement, conversions, or sales.
What are Third-Party Cookies?
Third-party cookies are script files that are set by a website other than the one you are currently on at the time. For example, a Facebook “Like” button on your website isn’t just to garner more followers. It can also store a cookie within a visitor’s browsing history that can later be accessed by Facebook to identify which websites were visited by the app user.
These would be considered third-party cookies which are often used to track users between websites and apps in order to display more relevant ads. Other examples include support chat functionality provided by third-party services like Zendesk.
Third-party cookies can be stored in your web browser and used to send information or targeted advertisements based on the search you facilitated. Let’s say you recently browsed vacation rentals in Tulum, Mexico but plans changed, and your trip won’t be top of mind for another year. After a few days, you may receive ads for resorts or airfare deals on unrelated websites. Third-party cookies leave an unintentional trail of breadcrumbs. Leaving a browser tab open and exploring or researching throughout multiple tabs constitutes a “session” and can relay information about your search history to other parties.
What is Cookie Deprecation?
According to Tech Crunch, Google recently announced its plans to create a “Privacy Sandbox” which has been delayed until the second half of 2023. This means that tracking cookies will no longer be supported through the search engine. While Google relies heavily on third-party cookie tracking, it’s response to user’s privacy concerns can be fueled by government scrutiny.
Google’s third-party data phase-out is accompanied by a more direct approach to “ad measurement, delivering relevant ads and content, and fraud detection.” Assuming Google will be using its own first-party data to carry out these initiatives, the resolution should benefit both the company and the ad tech space.
Impact of Eliminating Third-Party Cookie Data
Cookie deprecation has and will inevitably and drastically change the advertising landscape, so a delay gives ad tech industries more time to adapt to a post-tracking online realm. 62% of customers prefer personalized products and services, but almost the same number feel as though they have no control over how companies use their information. With the growth of data breaches, data misuse, and identity theft – 1,387,615 cases being reported in 2022, there is a greater sensitivity to how accessible data is and to whom it can be sold.
The loss of third-party data, while not promised, may prevent data breaches and lead to a safer e-commerce experience for consumers. It will however, undoubtedly make targeting users and measuring ad efficiency more challenging.
Whether or not preliminary updates will be rolled out prior to the 2023 start-date is unsure, as is the future of targeted marketing from third-party tools. The absence of third-party cookie data does bring unforeseen advantages as well. Many large publishers and widely-known brands like Amazon for instance have begun utilizing first-party data to target their audience at scale. Brands are seeing that when retail combines with programmatic media, it creates a compelling opportunity to drive awareness and “lower funnel” actions like stocking a shopping cart or repurchasing an item.
What is First-Party Data?
So what is first-party data and how can businesses acquire it? As we know, there are three types of cookies:
- First-party cookies are stored under the same domain you are currently visiting. So, if you are on example.com, all cookies stored under this domain are considered first-party cookies. Those cookies are usually used to identify a user between pages, remember selected preferences, or store your shopping cart.
- Second-party cookies are some first-party data shared from a trusted partner. This data can help a company achieve greater scale than relying on its own data alone. For example, a credit card company might get customer information from an airline to target based on specific traveler needs.
- Third-party cookies, as explained before, are cookies that are stored under a different domain than you are currently visiting. They are mostly used to track users between websites and display more relevant ads between websites.
To gain an advantage in a cookieless world, businesses can collect first-party cookies in the following ways
- Mobile apps and website
- Social Media
- Automated Text
- Customer Service Interactions
- CRM Systems
- Point of Purchase
- Direct Mail
First-party data is essential for organizations to deliver a personalized experience to customers and can be used to target audiences based on demography, interest, and purchase intentions. If capable, integrating your first-party data with a data management platform will allow you to store users’ data and analyze their purchasing behavior more effectively. This allows you to create segments and send personalized ads even after leaving your website.
Following a consent-based approach through polls, surveys, or other direct data studies allows businesses to utilize key elements like purchasing history and website analytics to make more meaningful optimizations. For many marketers, customer insights are limited to one channel at a time. Integrating customer data from all touch points when viewing the purchasing lens of one individual can paint a bigger picture.
How to Leverage First-Party Data
Using first-party data shifts the strategy from “prospecting” clients to honing in on current and likely customers. As most marketers know, it is less expensive and more profitable to retain customers than to find new ones. Repeat customers spend 33% more with a brand than new ones, and just one-fifth of existing customers account for 80% of future profits. Thirdly, your existing customers who have already interacted with your brand have given you the most valuable asset thus far: first-party data.
Advanced omnichannel measurements will only improve your campaign in a post-cookie “apocalypse”. By connecting data from all channels, brands can see how a customer moved from email to website to mobile app, and beyond. This tells us how long the purchase took (previously, which websites were researched) and any other actions made before completing a purchase. Marketers can segment and optimize this behavior within other audience members that lead to faster conversions.
Next, integrating and accessing first-party data per one customer identity asset complete, marketers can map the buyer journey and deploy the right message at the right time and place, informing strategies to pull customers back on the road to conversions. Understanding how each point in the customer journey affects conversion provides a more accurate way to analyze attribution and discover how budget shifts affect online engagement and in-store sales.
Without throwing marketing dollars into the ether and hoping for sales, you can use real-time first-party data to make significant impacts on your bottom line. The more a brand knows about its customers, the better it can customize their experience, encourage behaviors throughout various touchpoints, and improve brand loyalty.
Preparing for a Post-Cookie Future | Data Street Marketing | Digital Marketing Agency in Jackson, MS
Building a foundation for long term success starts with a small boutique agency who knows how to market your brand. While beneficial for brand recognition and amplifying your leads, third-party data only provides a fraction of the audience you can earn when you utilize first-party data and behaviors gained solely from your own backyard.
As Jackson’s forward-thinking digital marketing agency, Data Street Marketing has the tools to advance your business without reliance on soon-to-be-extinct customer cookie trails. Staying the course with today’s consumer is a huge challenge, but with the right tools, expertise, and technology based around first-party data, you’ll discover all you need is the right agency on the job. Data is in our name, and data is what we do. Contact Data Street Marketing today to learn more about our services.