Third-Party Cookies are dead. Earlier this year Google announced its intention to bring an end to cross-site tracking (essentially what 3rd party cookies do) in Chrome Browsers by 2022. The first phase of this change is already being felt as Google blocks cross-site tracking “by treating cookies that don’t include a SameSite label as first-party only and require cookies labeled for third-party use to be accessed over HTTPS.”
This change was however not a surprise to many in the tech sector. Third-Party Cookies have been a bone of contention since they were introduced. Cross-site tracking, while very lucrative for marketers, is a level of privacy invasion that many users are opposed to.
This opposition led to the rise of alternate ‘privacy first” browsers such as Mozilla. It was however Apple’s introduction of ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) in mid-2017 that catalysed an overall shift in policy that eventually led to the overall ban of Third-Party Cookies across main browsers, the most important being Chrome with over 2 billion users worldwide.
While this shift has been good news for users in terms of privacy, it will force a rethink of marketing strategies for stakeholders in this hugely lucrative niche.
You see, third party cookies have for long been the main data source for digital marketers worldwide. They provide an easy way for businesses to gather essential data about current and potential users/customers so that they can then tailor their ads to gain better traction.
Bringing an end to this strategy means that publishers and marketers will have to find alternative ways to gather data about their users. Different companies, marketers and software vendors have tried to address these new challenges with a variety of solutions. These include Google’s “Privacy Sandbox”, device graph, publisher alliances and even non-cookie-based ID matching technologies.
Each of these has had varying degrees of success, but none has been able to replicate the effectiveness of Third-Party Cookies.
Forward-thinking organisations will, and some already have realised that the best strategy going forward is to maximise their use of First-Party Data. This is the information organisations collect on users based on their behaviour on their very own websites and/or app.
First-Party Data had for long been relegated to the bottom of the list in terms of importance, as many marketers thought it to be hard to scale and required too much work to gather.
However, in a cookie-less era, First-Party Data has never been more important. Leveraging this data may mean the difference between success and failure in the digital marketing landscape.
Here are a few tricks for gathering First-Party Data.
With the death of the cookie, profiling users is going to be a little harder. To understand the user you need to know information such as their demographic and their firmographic attributes.
Now that we are only using First-Party Data it is not advisable to ask for such info upfront during registration. This usually kills the process. Many people are just unwilling to give up data about themselves or are just too ‘lazy’ to fill long forms.
The best way to approach this is to first collect the bare minimum information about the users and then slowly collect additional data down the line. A process termed as ‘progressive profiling’. The most popular way is to just do a simple email registration at first and then collect additional data as the user engages with your content.
2. User Registration
Third-Party Cookies provided businesses with an easy route around the hustle of having to ask users to register on their websites. With the incoming ban, however, such websites will have to go back to this method. Most will have to invent new and interactive ways to ask users to register to their website.
One creative way might be to allow the user to continue browsing the website without necessarily having registered at the first request. American e-commerce company Wayfair uses this strategy very well. By allowing the user the chance to skip registration at first request, the user can browse the website thereby increasing the chance of a purchase.
The registration form will pop up again during checkout if the user has made a purchase. If not, Wayfair has already gathered information about the user’s behaviour on their website and can use it to better customer experience.
3. Testing Out More Channels
Google is undoubtedly king in digital advertisement. It is however not the only medium that businesses can use to reach new users. Platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram have proven to be very important tools that can be leveraged to find users willing to come to your websites and offer their information. These platforms can be a linchpin for creating much more interactive content for better traction.
The death of cookies is sure to take a huge toll on digital advertisement. It is however not the end but rather a chance to come up with new ways to engage with users in a way that will respect their privacy.