What’s the Next Step for Marketers Post-Cookies?

How will marketers brace themselves for the eventuality of a time when third-party cookies will no longer exist?

When Google announced the depreciation of third-party cookies in January 2020, the world of marketing heaved a collective sigh and a whole school of data collection strategy began to crumble. Cookies have long been a staple of marketers, informing key decisions that guide the crafting of customer journeys. Brands have relied on them to identify website visitors on their digital properties — including website, social media and beyond — to improve user experience and collect first party intent data.

Third-party cookies specifically help marketers “follow the trail of crumbs,” collecting third-party intent data, information collected from outside sources that provides a broader view of a buyer’s intent to make a purchase.

And therein lies the creep factor. As the general public becomes more aware of how the internet works, they are more likely to be wary of being “stalked” across the web. 

Despite the public’s growing wariness around cookies, the ban has been pushed back multiple times since Google’s initial decree. As a stop gap, we currently find ourselves in a collective opt-in/opt-out pop up limbo that is cumbersome for consumers and a momentum-killing hurdle for marketers. 2024 is the next deadline Google set for itself, but in the meantime, how will marketers brace themselves for the eventuality of a time when third-party cookies will no longer exist?

Related Article: 5 Targeting Recommendations for a Post-Cookie World

Privacy > Personalization?

While marketers scramble to find alternatives, there is one overarching takeaway from the gradual demise of the third-party cookie. The people have spoken and they want privacy. But will that perceived privacy come at the cost of the personalization they have come to expect? If cookie-enabled convenience disappears overnight, users may feel a bit lost as they navigate their favorite websites.  

At the end of the day, buyers have come to expect a bespoke experience, and data is the only way to serve that level of personalization. Once that goes away, there will be a rude awakening not just for marketers, but for the buyers who have grown accustomed to the convenience cookies afford.

How to fill this cookie-sized hole? The elimination of third-party cookies means that brands will need to pivot to find new ways to connect with and earn the trust of their core audience while also improving brand engagement. Publishers will need to find different mechanisms to identify who their buyers are. They’ll need to plug the personalization gap with B2B first party data, voluntary visitor authentication and intent data derived from online behavior so they can serve welcomed customer experiences. 

Related Article: Google Gave Us a Reprieve on Cookies. My Advice? Don’t Take It

The Age of the Self-Service Buyer Is Here

With cookie-enabled data collecting methods crumbling, marketers are reevaluating their approach to reaching buyers while also adapting to their shifting demographics. TrustRadius’ recently released TrustRadius 2022 Buying Disconnect report — a survey of 2,185 respondents that shows year-over-year trends in business technology buying and selling — confirmed what astute marketers had already suspected: the age of the self service buyer is here. According to the report, virtually 100% of buyers want to self-serve all or part of their buying journey, up 13% from last year.

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