Third-party cookies have been at the forefront of helping brands create successful marketing campaigns by collecting customers’ personal information and using it to deliver advertisements that are tailored to their interests. However, this method has sparked controversy over the years, with customers persistently insisting that their online data be kept private and only be used with consensual agreement. As a result, this ongoing debate has seen search engines such as Google Chrome re-evaluate their tracking security, leading brands to ask – “will cookies be banned?”

In this blog, we examine this topic in detail and look at how brands can adapt to a marketing world without internet cookies.

While You’re Here: Internet of Behaviours as a Marketing Tool

Third-Party Cookies Explained

What are third-party cookies? These ‘trackers’ are created by identification strings set by a website other than the one that customers are initially visiting. These tools are stored onto their device and help brands with behavioural targeting,  making it easier for them to promote products to their target audience. In other words, it provides brands with technical analytics including which sites customers visit, their dwell time, and common search terms when browsing the internet.

As effective as this strategy might be for brands, it has created privacy issues for online users with 91% of customers significantly concerned about the amount of personal data that companies collect about them. Furthermore, studies show that customers are more willing to buy from brands that are ethical with almost half of customers having taken drastic measures to decrease the quantity of data that they disclose online. So, with privacy concerns against third-party cookies on a steady rise, more browsers are beginning to act. Cross-site customer targeting is no longer admissible and personalised advertisements are less common. What does this mean for brands?

According to KoMarketing, 83% of marketers are currently utilising third-party cookies. This indicates that the future of advertising needs to be re-evaluated for brands that are still dependent on this data collection method as this will inevitably affect their customer targeting and measurement techniques. In addition, brands are likely to experience what is known as the cold start problem which stems from not having the appropriate technological resources to deliver personalised online experiences due to limited information regarding customers’ interests and past buying behaviours.

Brands now need to rethink their marketing strategies when it comes to this segment and recognise that the end of third-party cookies could be an opportunity to formulate a new customer data acquisition plan.

Further Reading: Predictive and Augmented Analytics: The Future of Business Intelligence

What’s Next for Brands?

Fortunately, there are several ways brands can make the transition from using third-party cookies to developing processes that will provide personalised customer targeting and improve their overall integrity in the online realm. Here are five methods that brands should consider:

First-Party Data

What better way to start collecting data than from your own customers? First-party data enables brands to acquire information about a prospect’s past purchases and company interactions through innovative tools such as customer data platforms. This allows them to understand when and how the data was collected thus increasing its level of reliability. Although this method might take time to set up, it can provide great benefits in the long run!

Contextual Advertising

With new advancements such as artificial intelligence-powered contextual targeting which is used to conduct real-time analysis through live data, brands can do away with the restrictions of keyword targeting and third-party cookies. Moreover, this strategy can provide a good indication of where the relevant and less anticipated audiences may be located thus assisting brands in expanding their customer reach.

Unified IDs

These are identity solutions with stricter privacy regulations that are designed to assist advertisers in tracking a customer’s browsing patterns across various online platforms. A single sign-on by providing your email address is all that is needed for customers to opt-in and receive targeted advertisements across the relevant publishers’ websites. This technique’s long-term user identification period makes it easier for brands to engage with and analyse their target customers’ online behaviours.

Server-to Server Tracking

This tool enables brands to track conversions without requiring customers to enable their cookies. By connecting online users with advertisers, data is sent directly to a secure server instead of relying on browser extensions. From a marketing perspective, your server assesses and responds based on the content that is received. This ensures that brands have more control over the data that is sent to multiple platforms, allowing them to maintain an efficient site speed.

On-Device Targeting

Finally, we have on-device targeting – also known as the alternative to using your first-party data server to store user information. On-device targeting can help brands deliver real-time customer experiences by using clustered signals. Google has already taken initiative by developing a method called the Federal Learning of Cohorts which aims to hide customers in a crowd of individuals with similar interests thus keeping their browsing habits secluded.

As outlined above, even without the use of third-party cookies, it is very much possible for brands to receive and share customers’ personal information provided that the chosen respondents have given their consent to the request.

Also Read: A Marketers Guide to Progressive Web Apps

In Conclusion

With third-party cookies being phased out, brands need to adapt to what has now become the new norm by using this opportunity to go back to the drawing board and formulate new strategies that are in line with building strong customer relationships based on trust.

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