Digital Marketing Strategy,

The Cookieless Future: What It Is and How to Cope With It

Zlati

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While third-party cookies haven’t been completely phased out yet, the change is coming fast.

To successfully plan for a cookieless future, you need to start positioning your business for success before the shift occurs. Below, learn all you need to know about preparing for a cookieless tomorrow, including alternatives and steps you can take to future-proof your business.

What Exactly Is a Cookieless Future?

Third-party cookies have been around for quite some time. They are small bits of code stored by browsers that provide advertisers (and other third parties) with information about consumers’ interests and preferences. It’s worth noting that third-party cookies are created and stored by organizations other than the one that the user is visiting.

With tracking cookies, it’s possible to improve website experiences, target specific groups with ads, and analyze consumers’ activities on other websites.

Over time, however, the degree of tracking provided by cookies has become increasingly invasive, resulting in rising consumer concerns regarding privacy and security.

With the push for privacy intensifying, Google has announced its plans to phase out third-party cookies, and many marketers and advertisers are starting to prepare for a cookieless future.

Effectively, marketers will no longer be able to count on third-party data for research and consumer targeting.

While this change will inevitably affect the ad landscape, it’ll also help create a more transparent and trustworthy digital space. In turn – as transparency and trust grow – consumers will likely be more willing to share data with the brands they love.

Cookieless Advertising: What Are the Alternatives to Third-Party Cookies?

While keeping up with these new changes can feel overwhelming, new tools and programs are already in development to replace third-party cookies.

Here are a few leading privacy-friendly alternatives you should know about:

  • Google’s Privacy Sandbox – An array of experimental APIs and open-web tracking solutions that analyze online activity within the Chrome browser and use this data to assign users to cohorts. With the Privacy Sandbox, cohorts are presented with ads tailored to the whole group, instead of an individual.
  • Universal ID – A framework that strives to establish a unique ID for each user so that advertisers can still provide targeted, relevant ads but with more controls available to the user itself (e.g. users being able to monitor and adjust how their ID is being used).
  • Contextual Advertising – Contextual targeting is a great practice that enables you to focus on producing and distributing relevant content. In effect, the ads that prospects see are based on the content they are looking at rather than their overall behavior profile.

Cookieless Marketing: How Marketers Should Adapt to It

Once Google implements the third-party cookie ban, most third-party audiences will naturally diminish in size, until they’re no longer scalable for most advertising activities.

So how can marketers prepare for a cookieless digital space so that they can continue to effectively target and grow their audiences?

As with many things, the key lies in starting early.

Consumer trust expectations are only going to grow stronger, which means that you need to start making sure that the data you collect and use captures and reflects consumer consent.

From creating an account to signing up for a newsletter, individual consumer consent can be captured in a number of ways. The key here is to unify these sources and leverage their unique advantages.

Although the third-party cookie changes are not due to be implemented until mid-2023, here are some practical tips you can start implementing to make sure your business is future-proof.

Prioritize First-Party Data

In the absence of third-party cookies, having a solid first-party data strategy will be more important than ever.

After all, this is unique information that you collect from your own sources about your customers. Effective implementation of first-party data capturing mechanisms ensures robust data is available as input for targeting and personalization of consumers who have already engaged with your brand.

There are several ways to collect first-party data, like:

  • Customer service interactions
  • User registrations for your website
  • Surveys
  • CRM systems
  • Email marketing
  • Mobile apps

Regardless of how you plan on capturing this data, remember to start early as data often needs time to build up sufficient data volumes.

Focus on Data Consolidation

To make the most of your data – and ensure that it’s current, accurate, and complete – you’ll need consolidation.

Simply put, data consolidation is the process of combining and storing varied data in a single place. It allows businesses to streamline their data resources, discover various patterns, and gain crucial business insights from multiple types of data.

Even more, data consolidation can help connect users’ activities, customize data through interaction, improve data quality, perform effective data enrichment, and correlate online conversion data.

In effect, analyzing data that you’ve consolidated will allow you to better understand your customers, hyper-target personas, as well as identify channels and content that work best for your business.

Explore Different Cookieless Targeting Strategies

If your advertising strategies rely heavily on third-party data, it’s time to start considering alternative cookieless tracking strategies.

Third-party cookies are coming to an end, but there are plenty of other targeting methods rising up to fill the void. Here are a few tactics that have been rising in popularity:

  • Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) – FLoC, also part of Google’s Privacy Sandbox, uses browser data to put together large cohorts of users with similar behaviors, preventing individual’s data from being accessed specifically
  • Walled Gardens – A walled garden is a closed ecosystem that gives providers full control over everything that happens on their digital property.

Walled garden ecosystems (such as Google and Facebook) offer advertisers a safer alternative to connect with their audience by providing powerful features that translate to more accurate data.

  • Server-Side Tracking – Rather than running tracking scripts directly from the browser, server-side tagging allows you to run a Google Tag Manager container in a server-side environment. This gives you more control over the data, higher security, and a base for cookieless marketing automation and personalization.

As the algorithm starts learning, you can start scoring the leads and assigning them value based on their behavior or data, essentially enabling you to do value-based bidding, as well.

  • Location-Based Targeting – This allows you to target users who are currently in the defined campaign area, as well as re-target users who have visited certain places in the past. Location-based messaging doesn’t require knowing who the individual user is, instead it simply registers location points coming from the native app or website

In addition, continue to stay up-to-date and follow the news related to third-party cookies and other Google Ad trends that could impact your business. In the process, don’t forget to also vet any solution that can help you better transition away from this type of tracking.

The Cookieless Future: Say Hello to Data Science for Marketing

While we are inevitably headed towards a cookieless future, there is still time to adjust to the changes and benefits from the increase in consumer trust.

To succeed in the privacy-driven future, though, B2B marketers need to start today focusing on collecting first-party data and carefully analyzing these new insights. In turn, the data will enable them to better understand their target audience, target the most valuable customers, and deliver more personalized customer experiences.

Ready to embrace data as part of your digital efforts? Here’s how to get started with data science in marketing.

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