How the cookie crumbles – marketing in a cookie-less world

Ben Shipley - Chief Innovation and Marketing Officer, Ovato

Marketers are preparing for a cookie-less future following Google’s announcement that it intends to join Apple, Firefox and Mozilla and begin blocking third-party default cookies in Chrome from 2022. This means that brands won’t to be able to target and serve advertising based on the specific data captured as consumers browse the web.

Marketers have been busy working out what they need to do to mitigate the potential negative effects of Google’s move. The cookie-less open web means you’re now facing a proper challenge, but this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

All the major players have made it clear that this is a conceptual shift, not a technological one. While there are ways to tracks individuals without cookies, it is likely that these workarounds will suffer from some restrictions.

The following 4 tips are a good place to start for marketers looking to take back control of their brands. 

1. Build your first-party data assets

First party data is the mass of information that you collect from the properties your brand owns – your website, app, and CRM. This data is shared as part of the relationship you have built with your shoppers, clients or customers. It is vital because it’s coming straight from the customer, it’s collected relatively easily and most importantly, you are allowed to use this data to talk specifically to that person. 
It consists of pretty much everything about your customer that you’d want to know. Where they live, their purchase history, marketing preferences, interests and even the amount of time that they spend on your website. It’s great because it’s easily enhanced with third-party data, such as transactional data sets.

This type of first party data is one of the reasons that retargeting is not dead thanks to this change. Brands will still be able to remind you of that cheeky red velour number you were looking at, but only brands who you’ve bought from, and websites that you’ve been logged into when you are visiting them for a lunchtime browse.

With all that information, it’s impossible not to like the sound of first-party data. 

2. Develop contextual marketing to replace audience targeting

Contextual targeting shifts away from allowing creepy, unsolicited customisation and groups people based on interests, location, or other behaviours that make it clear it is relevant to target them. FLoC and the rest of Google’s Aviary themed approaches will give marketers the ability to target baskets of people with similar patterns. I think it has the potential to significantly lift the performance of digital approaches.
Long before Google, Ovato was using this type of methodology in the targeted distribution of catalogues and print marketing materials to homes. We have worked with Dan Murphy’s to shift their targeting to focus on higher densities of people who shopped at liquor stores in the last 12 months. 

Done well, contextual marketing brings together online and mobile marketing and uses targeted advertising based on search terms and other activity to attract the desired customers. It requires marketers to speak in terms that are more broadly relevant. This strategy, while counterintuitive to the segment of one digital advocates love, aligns more closely with the work of Byron Sharp, Peter Field and Les Binet. Brands should be able to reach larger segments of new audiences as part of their mix, and broader propositions might convert more of the parts of the market who are in churn.

3. Use data enrichment strategies to expand your customer knowledge 

Businesses and marketers must adopt a strategic approach to enrich their data as it has the most potential for both marketing and sales. 

The process involves adding new data points to your current view of your customer, largely through developing a better understanding of them. 

Expect to see more simple short surveys in places where customers are receptive, such as on your website through a LiveChat pop-up. Just a single question, even yes / no, can inform you about what they might be looking for from your brand, their needs and more.
There will also be de-identified third party data sets that will be available that can help you add value.

4. Invest in identity solutions

Identity solutions help companies and brands regain the ability to target, optimise, frequency cap and report accurately. They are a new standardised way of IDing and storing user data without using third-party cookies.
This commonly looks like an identity graph, which is a database that collects the identifiers that identify individual customers. It’s an overview of customers that shows their ever-evolving activity across all their touch points, be they web, mobile apps or physical bricks and mortar. 

Identity solutions take work and investment across multiple departments, and in a post-cookie world, will require significant lead time and collaboration.
An integrated solution
A connected ecosystem is important in a post-cookie world. Relying on just one solution isn’t feasible. Multiple solutions will be necessary – and they must be inter-operable across channels and platforms.
Some solutions are best matched to upper funnel activities, such as large-scale brand awareness and recognition, while others are designed to find and engage prospects, then move them through to consideration. Others still are a better fit for helping to close the deal and convert the sale.

As much as this represents change and yet another technical disruption for marketers, much of what has always been true about marketing remains so. Talk to your customers in a way that shows them that you know them. Talk to everyone else like you want to know them. And do it consistently in as many different places you can afford.
Whichever solution you select, you must make customer privacy a priority. This is now a non-negotiable element, and with GDPR and other privacy regulations around the world, consumer transparency and privacy controls are foundational to the future of digital marketing, 

Start the process by seeing how fit for purpose your current privacy settings are and identify the work you need to do to future proof them. 

Looking for advice on negotiating a post-Cookie world? Talk to us today.