What is one thing marketers, business owners and Sesame Street characters all have in common?
You guessed it; they all love cookies 🍪
For many years now marketers and business owners have been tracking what people are doing on websites, collecting this data and using it to help target ads to the right people based on user behaviour, using cookies. The process has been extremely efficient. With the future of third-party cookies looming, there is a lot of uncertainty around how to best move forward without them. It is a complete disruption to the entire marketing ecosystem.
The question on everybody’s lips is, are cookies going away? Third-party cookies will soon come to a screaming halt, for the most part anyway! The shocking news came as Google announced the end of third-party cookies on its chrome browser. Mark your calendars for 2023. Safari and Firefox have already made the move.
To many marketers’ dismay, these third-party won’t be getting replaced with new individual user tracking. This came as a rude shock given Google own over half the global web browser market (and traffic). If you run Facebook Ads, you would have already felt the repercussions of Apple’s decision to knuckle down on third-party cookies in the recent Apple iOS 14 update. Tracking of website visitors has now been minimised as has your ability to retarget.
The main driver towards removing third-party cookies is privacy protection. With the strict laws now in place around data collection and anonymity, many companies are forced to remove third-party cookies to ensure compliance. Let’s face it, nobody wants a lawsuit on their hands and it’s always better to air on the side of caution.
Going forward, you will need to learn how to target your customers and clients in line with their personal needs and wants whilst protecting their data and privacy. How do we achieve this without access to crucial information?
Unlike first-party data, third-party data is information collected that isn’t a result of a direct relationship between a consumer and a business but from an outside source. Third-party data comes from a variety of sources and is often collected through small digital text files like scripts or tags. The cookie itself, when accepted by a user, saves itself locally on a user’s computer or device. It helps the website remember and save information their activity.
A third-party cookie can be added on any website that loads the third-party server’s code such as Facebook’s pixel. By adding this code to a page or site, advertisers can track a user across many of the websites they visit and create a personalised ad experience for them based on what they engage with. It’s an extremely smart and efficient process and has allowed advertisers to achieve a lot of conversions from their implementation.
As you can now appreciate, many business owners and marketers haven’t been thrilled about the decision. This is because it changes the entire marketing ecosystem. It removes the ability to simply personalise the ad experience and capitalise off all the individual data we hold from tracking users.
Unfortunately, there is nothing you can do but jump on board and embrace the change, particularly before your competitors do.
Here is what we do know:
There are significant changes coming to the marketing world and we still aren’t 100% how they will look or impact your business. It’s imperative you adjust your marketing and implement strategies to combat the loss of third-party cookies before they leave us forever.
And since you’re here ready to take the next step, I’ve put together five ways you can prepare to stay ahead of the mass cookie extinction.
Building an audience will never be a waste of time
There is no time like the present to start building an audience, one that you own and sits on your platform. Consider how you could do this? My suggestion would be to start building an email list. Create a freebie or add a pop-up to your site as a means for collecting email addresses. Then nurture your customer or client list with a steady stream of content. It will help build up your know, like and trust factor and will never be in vain.
The changes to privacy are calling brands and business to take responsibility for the data protection of their users. Collect only the data you need to communicate with a customer or client like an email address and leave the rest. You will likely get more opt-ins given users are more likely to fill out a form when there are less fields to complete.
Utilise a first-party data strategy
Third party cookies are officially on the loose which means we need to get our first part data in line.
Let’s go back to basics. First party data is information you directly collect from customers or clients. Collection can come from different sources and software like interactions with them, purchasing history, preferences from different experiences like web or mobile app behaviour, in-store experiences or even call centre interactions.
First party data will become absolute gold in a cookieless society. It will force you to really understand your customers or clients better and go back to sales 101: relationship building. Consider how your business could better invest in collecting first party data. Could it implementing Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) or a Customer Data Platform (CDP)? Make it a priority, you’ll be so grateful you did.
Customer experience needs to be front and centre
Creating a good user experience will always serve your business well. This will become harder and harder with less data to use. At least, all businesses big or small, will all be on a level playing field in what data they have access to.
We all want to be the best at what we do and that means meeting the needs and wants of our consumers. How can you create a unique experience at different touch points in the user journey to keep people coming back for more? Get creative and go the extra mile. It will help build your brand and create a loyal following without third-party data.
Adjust your tech strategy
It’s important to understand how data will be collected going forward and build your marketing strategy accordingly.
The extinction of cookies has impacted so many businesses including advertising giants Facebook and Google. But…if you think for a minute they are going to let it impact their profit margin, think again. These brands have more first-party data at their fingertips than anyone on planet earth. Brands like Facebook will be able to help you achieve people-based targeting through their unique identifiers that connect the user across devices. You’ll also be able to target their users using real time behavioural data.
A second thing to consider is how you can best achieve your marketing objectives using these tech platforms. An example would be to use Facebook Ads to build your email list. If you need help with how to target your Facebook Ads, see my recent blog ‘Learn how to better target Facebook Ads to achieve success’.
It’s also more important now than ever to implement an SEO strategy. It’s a great way to bring visibility to your website and attract the customers or clients that are ready to buy your product or service. Who doesn’t want to be ranking in the top positions in Google. If you have no idea where to start with SEO, I’ve created the ultimate beginners checklist.
Embrace contextual advertising
The old school is coming back to stay and it’s time to start shifting your marketing budget to keyword based contextual advertising especially now that behavioural advertising is on the decline. Contextual advertising is all about creating ads that are relevant to other content on that page. For example, it’s like placing ads for baby products in a baby shop. It’s about showing up where you know your exact customers are.
Digitally, how does this work? When a customer searches a certain keyword phrase in Google, they click through to a site and an ad may appear that relates to that keyword. This ad is in context to the keyword they searched. From a user perspective, this kind of advertising is must less invasive than cookie based behavioural retargeting because the ads you see are based on the content you are looking for instead of your overall behaviour. For example, you could be reading a blog on running and then you get shown ads for running shoes. Can you see how it’s that much more relevant? It’s also less creepy because you don’t feel like you’re being followed around the web.
There is no denying that the extinction of third-party cookies is going to disrupt our marketing ecosystem. Adjusting your strategy and looking for the best way to build relationships with your audience is going to be your best bet.
What can you start today to put your best food forward ahead of your competition?
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