Google has announced they are eliminating third-party cookies for good by 2022. Almost all browsers and websites currently add a third-party cookie to a customer’s device in order to track their browsing history, patterns and behaviours. They use this information to provide companies with the data they need to advertise and deliver personalized marketing campaigns accurately. Although the cookie elimination has been anticipated for some time, the update has caused concern about what this means for brands and how to properly track data attribution without cookies going forward. Fortunately, there are other ways to target users without the use of third-party cookies in a more privacy-friendly way. Here’s what Google’s cookieless update means for your brand and how you can still collect the data you need to advertise effectively:
Going forward in a cookieless world, many marketers need to focus on efforts that help them collect more first-party data, such as using first-party cookies to see who visited their sites or switching to cookieless attribution platforms. First-party data is the information companies collect directly from their audience including their behaviors, actions or interests across your website or apps. Companies will still be allowed to drop first-party cookies on their user’s devices to collect first-party data only and better tailor the user’s experience, but will not be able to use third-party cookies to see their prospects anymore or track them across the web. A great method to help companies gain better insights into their customer’s first-party data is through a cookieless attribution platform. It will provide companies with all their website tracking, while never placing a tracking code on a visitor’s browser.
Taking advantage of your first-party data will be the next step to ensuring you track your customer journey and still offer personalized advertising accurately. While your group of prospects will be smaller using only first-party cookies, they will be higher quality ones with stronger relationships. First-party data will still give you valuable insights that your company needs, even after third-party cookies are no more.
One of the advertising tools that is being proposed and tested by Google to replace third-party cookies is Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC). FLoc is a privacy-safe data collection method that groups people together based on their interests. As a person moves around the web, their browser uses the FLoC algorithm to add you to an "interest cohort", where thousands of browsers with a similar recent browsing history will be added as well. Marketers and advertisers will be able to request and use pools of people with common characteristics, rather than individuals, to still accurately target their customers. This method is still being tested but they have seen very accurate results in marketing campaigns so far.
With a strong inbound marketing strategy, you’ll still attract prospects organically through a combination of high-quality content, SEO, email and social media marketing. Email marketing will be more important than ever and is a great way to increase your collection of first-party data through opt-ins. Not only is it an effective cookieless marketing tool to increase your sales and nurture relationships, but it also allows you to better understand your customer behaviour and journey which will be crucial going forward. Once you’ve organically grown your first-party data it can then be broken down into customer segments for targeted marketing.
The phase-out of third-party cookies means marketers and advertisers will have to adapt. They’ll have to develop a deeper understanding of the customer journey and evolve their skill sets to reach and influence their audiences. If you adjust your marketing correctly, you’ll continue to grow no matter what data you have to work with. Make first-party data a priority and work on bringing in customers organically. Using these strategies and building direct relationships with your customers will help you market efficiently and accurately as third-party cookies become a thing of the past.
Marketers also need to invest in analytics tools to gather insights gained through first-party data analysis. These insights can be used to increase the relevancy of the experiences that companies provide for their customers. They can also run experimental campaigns and continuously tie engagement metrics with first-party customer profiles. This strategy can increase the effectiveness of a company’s personalized efforts and campaigns over time.
The end of tracking for marketers through third-party cookies doesn’t mean the end of attribution. The best methods for tracking and attribution of your visitor’s data don’t require cookies to be effective. Decision makers in marketing departments should start taking steps on how to transform tracking and attribution with privacy-driven solutions only. Marketers should be considering solutions which will focus on first-party data.