The insecurity of the cookieless future
Only one out of three marketers feels confident about the future of cookieless, in other words, most marketers feel unprepared for this change and may even feel frustrated, disappointed or confused about it. This is because over the last few years marketers have put a lot of effort and energy into tracking ads and third-party cookies as a fundamental part of their strategies, until they have become almost dependent on third-party cookies.
With strategies based on this information, brands have been walking a delicate balance on the fine line between personalization and relevance of their messages and their consumers’ sense of privacy. Until this tricky balance has been shaken by both brand strategies and announcements from companies like Apple, which explained that it would block third-party cookies in Safari through ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention), and Google, which in the interest of “greater privacy, transparency, choice and control over data use” said it would phase out third-party cookies.
At this point, and with Google’s recent announcement to postpone the death of third-party cookies until the end of 2024, the web ecosystem and developers, marketers and digital advertising specialists have a few months to find the best answer to how to continue advancing the relationship between brands and consumers in terms of privacy, personalization and relevance.
First-party data to reset the dependency on cookies
On the one hand, we are seeing alternatives such as the already dismissed FLoC, where user data is not sold individually to advertisers but grouped in batches, Topics, the classification by tag of users’ interests with a duration of three weeks, or Universal ID, which would allow users to decide with full consent the tracking of their activities, but they run the risk of being mere substitutes for third-party cookies. And, therefore, they could place us in the abyss of continuing to rely excessively on third-party data and putting the relationship between brands and consumer privacy in a delicate situation.
But on the other hand, there are those who, in this cookieless future, see the opportunity of an improved world in which Marketers and Data Analysts can obtain relevant information from their first-party customers at different moments of their life cycle and with the full knowledge and consent of both parties with a common goal. If Marketing has always been closely linked to building brands and communities around them, it is time for Marketing strategies to serve brands to collect customer data that are better and more reliable than those existing so far and, in return, offer them more valuable experiences with their products. If we agree that the most valuable data are the ones that consumers share voluntarily, it is clear that these are the ones to get and to place at the base of any action.
The value of first-party customer data
The high value of first-party data lies in its origin, directly from users and with their explicit consent; in the contact information that accompanies it; and in the certainty that the users who provide it are interested in the products and services of the brand to which they provide it. In this sense, having more reliable data and owning it frees brands from the dependence that ties them to third-party advertising companies to know their own customers. But just having it is not enough, and good data management becomes essential.
It is true that there are high-value third-party data that help brands find the people who are looking for their products, but there are also many reasons to focus on building a community. To create one, to offer personalized and connected experiences to its members and to improve their experience with the brand, it takes a lot of effort, commitment and very good first-party data management.
CDP: the cornerstone of data management
Without cookies, in order to best analyze and act on first-party data, brands will need to use customer data platforms with which they can manage source data and, if it ever arrives, also third-party data such as FLoCs. In this way, the Customer Data Platform -CDP- becomes a cornerstone of any company’s technology stack.
The CDP allows Marketers to understand who their real and potential customers are, make smart decisions on how to engage them, personalize the Customer Journey of each of them and use machine learning and AI to deliver connected experiences by recognizing them and predicting their behavior in a sophisticated way to offer the best answer to their questions and needs.
Rediscovering the essence of marketing with CDP
In some ways, the demise of cookies has something of a back to basics and rediscovering the essence. With a good technology to make the most of first-party data such as CDP, it is as if we were going back to the beginnings of Marketing but from the future: the Marketer has to focus on communicating the differential characteristics of the brand, explaining the advantages of each of its products, and connecting with its audiences at the right time with the most relevant message in a meaningful and genuine way. This can be done on a large scale and in real time, deploying as many individual experiences as there are leads and customers.
You don’t need cookies to test ideas, collect data, make decisions, or to meet customers directly and honestly. Rather, where the will to respond to needs, creativity, data analysis and personalization intersect, we may find the way to continue accompanying and building identity and community.