Given Apple’s changes to Identifier for Advertisers and Google’s announcement that it plans to remove third-party cookies in the near future, marketers now face cookie deprecation and a virtually third-party cookieless future. The announcements have thrown many for a loop, as cookies have long been the go-to method for harvesting data in digital advertising, tracking user activity and engagement, and informing future advertising strategies.
Clearly, the cookie crisis demands clear data solutions. If marketers want to continue to use sophisticated strategies for targeting customers, they’ll have to actively embrace third-party cookie alternatives and new advertising tools, primarily by better using and growing first-party data. Only by doing this can marketers effectively use customer data in digital advertising.
Below are our best practices for improving your first-party data practices and gathering info across multiple platforms without cookies:
1. Reprioritize first-party cookies.
Third-party cookies may be going away, but you can still leverage first-party cookies (anonymous code dropped directly by the website customers visit, rather than by a separate vendor or domain). First-party data collection is consent-driven and inherently more transparent than other methods, so leveraging it gives you a leg up against other advertising competition. Customers these days can smell inauthentic, irrelevant advertising from a mile away, so providing a transparent yet relevant and helpful experience will foster invaluable brand equity and rapport.
2. Be transparent about your data practices.
Tell your customers exactly how and where you’ll be using their data — and let them choose how much they share with you. Be sure to also clearly demonstrate the value they get from sharing their data in different ways, such as by outlining the benefits of joining loyalty programs to receive exclusive offers. First-party data is only as good as the actionable insights it provides. Because customers must trust your brand before they’ll share their information, focus on building that trust through transparency.
3. Keep a single view of the customer with tech tools
Customers use different devices and channels, meaning every person has multiple cookies attached to themselves (generally, you can expect one cookie per user per browser per device). By establishing advertising tools and technologies to merge these profiles into a single customer view, you’ll better understand which ads and interactions are most effective in spurring action. The best advertising tools and measurement solutions that marketers can invest in for first-party data are centralized and organized.
In keeping a single view of the customer, you’re better able to measure the effectiveness of campaigns and data-driven strategies. Simply building your first-party data will only result in more leads. As this data becomes more important, you’ll need to understand whether these leads are valuable and moving down the funnel. Measurement solutions, specifically, will ensure that you are targeting consumers with the right messaging that speaks to their needs and wants rather than simply having a large pool of contacts.
4. Prioritize relevancy
Consumers continue to demand relevant and personal experiences. First-party data delivers the most accurate consumer intelligence, allowing you as an advertiser to serve up the timeliest content. Based on the data you have about consumers, use strategic touchpoints to create unique experiences customized to their specific interests, preferences, locations, and purchases. For example, if a customer leaves three dresses in their shopping cart at your online boutique, you might send them a targeted advertisement about dresses, a coupon code to prompt them to complete their purchase, or a reminder not to let the deal pass them by.
5. Make a mindset shift to first-party data
As with adapting to most changes in life, adjusting to a cookieless future requires a “mind over matter” mentality. While marketers have long leaned on third-party cookies for their primary data sources, these cookies aren’t the end-all, be-all of metrics tracking. By staying curious and open-minded to new methodologies, including third-party cookie alternatives, you may just find even more innovative and personalized tracking techniques because of the change.
The notion of having to find third-party cookie alternatives in a cookieless future is daunting to many advertisers — but it’s all about your mindset. If you view this shift as an opportunity to think creatively and innovate new ways of harnessing customer data to develop future campaigns, you will have a major advantage over other marketers. Plus, the better you figure out how to use first-party data versus third-party cookies, the more personalized your messaging will be to customers, which is exactly what they’re demanding.
And don’t miss our next blog post covering the benefits and growth of walled gardens in the wake of third-party cookie changes. Check out the full post here.