All stakeholders in the advertising ecosystem will be impacted by the shift away from cookies in 2024. Prepping in advance is your best bet for when cookies go away. B2B and B2C brands have an opportunity to shift gears and establish more meaningful transactional exchanges of content and goods with target audiences.
Download our E-Book on advertising without third-party cookies to see what we’re thinking. Here’s a little preview below.
The big change: Despite delays, third-party cookies will be history in 2024.
Why it’s important: Brands and agencies must adapt and transform to prepare for the resulting creative disruption in advertising.
Shortly after 1994, when cookies were introduced and marketers began harvesting data from websites other than their own, their goals were clear—they wanted to learn about consumers’ dreams, desires, and demographics to fashion digital pitches closely tied to their preferences.
Cookies have become the go-to technique for fostering ad revenue for publishers. Investment in this information reached nearly $12 billion in 2019.
In July 2021, more than half the 500 senior marketers in the U.S. surveyed said third-party cookie data made up much of the data their company uses when making marketing decisions. Another third said it was an important part of the data mix in their advertising campaigns.
But have 3PCs really delivered on their promise? The answer isn’t clear.
Certainly, 3PCs have been the best offense for many businesses without the means to breach the walled gardens of digital advertising erected by Facebook, Google, and Amazon. These three providers, who together generate hundreds of billions of dollars in ad revenue every year, don’t share data or technology with third parties. While this effectively eliminates the privacy concerns that 3PCs have caused, the three giants’ aggressive algorithms and questionable content monitoring have raised the ire of concerned citizens and regulators.
There’s no doubt that the marketing ecosystem is undergoing a realignment on several levels as retargeting without cookies comes into play. To find their footing, ad executives will need more robust metrics for determining campaign success.
Simply put, third-party cookies allow marketers to gain insight into users through the collected data to deliver the unique and personalized experience so many people crave from brands today.
A recent survey by McKinsey underscores the power of personalization. It reports that 78% of consumers surveyed are more likely to make repeat purchases from companies that personalize and nearly 80% are more likely to refer friends and families to companies that personalize. Fortunately, at least 65% of people are willing to share the information brands need to offer customized experiences for their audience—you just need to make it value exchange.
Cookies offered a lot of important information to advertisers that they will now need to ask for if they want insights into who their audience is, including:
Strengthen your first-party data with credible new offerings. Pull out all the stops to amass information about consumers who visit your site. Launch programs and campaigns that encourage the exchange of personal information for a product, service, or rewards that your target audience can really benefit from. Earn trust by providing content that is unique, deeply informed, and highly credible. Make the site easy and pleasant to use. Then, ensure that the information you gather is stored in databases that are prepped for machine learning and AI. And if you don’t have data, get some by working with a data strategist who understands your business and goals.
Be personal—to a point. Don’t try to analyze your consumers to the extent that you’re splitting the atom. That can get unnerving. While personalizing remains vital, attempts to get a more granular picture of your website visitors shouldn’t preclude other targeting approaches. For example, broaden your reach by seeking out data on larger, more loosely identified cohorts that share your company’s values and goals. Explore new channels and reconsider older ones where likeminded groups reside. Build communities of trust around your products and services and the data will follow.
Technology is your friend. New tools will make the transition to a time beyond 3PCs much easier. If you haven’t already undergone digital transformation, now might be the time to consider doing so. Machine learning, AI and natural language processing can crunch names, numbers, traits, and preferences anonymously to deliver detailed pictures of the consumers you wish to target. These assets can even tell you where to find prospects, and how to approach them. When doing so, remember that privacy should be the center of your strategy.
Paramount: build and earn audience trust. Publications are going to be held super accountable by their audience for the quality of what they’re producing. Publishers who hold themselves accountable to these tenets will get the edge. Those just starting to lean in now have ground to make up but doing so will be worth the effort.
Cookies may be exiting but there are still lots of ways to connect with audiences. Download Practical and Tactical: Connecting with Audiences Without Cookies.