Anne Curtin
Jun 8, 2024

Navigating the cookieless future: Insights from industry leaders

Although cookie deprecation on Chrome has been delayed yet again, more and more industry experts are urging the 75% of marketers still relying on third-party cookies to make the change to first-party data.

Navigating the cookieless future: Insights from industry leaders

If you’re among the 75% of marketers still relying on third-party cookies, it’s time to take action. While Google’s delays might have lulled many into a false sense of security, the most successful brands have long prioritised trust and transparency – and are reaping a competitive advantage as a result.

So, why wait? We recently hosted a webinar featuring industry experts discussing marketing and advertising in a cookieless world and the steps companies can take to future-proof their business. Let’s delve into some of the valuable insights they provided.

Seize the first-party data opportunity

In the face of cookie loss, savvy marketers are turning lemons into lemonade by prioritising first-party data to deepen their relationships with customers.

According to Milin Shah of UPS, the shift away from cookies should serve as a wake-up call for marketers to maximise the potential of their existing customer data. "The whole cookieless thing is more or less just a trigger for us," he said, while stressing the importance of leveraging the first-party data companies already have.

Shah said: “Irrespective of cookies going away or not, if you don't use the data you have, you're not going to be able to create [personalised] experiences, and you’re going to fall behind your competition.”

While first-party data offers in-depth insights into consumer behaviours, interests, and preferences, it’s often siloed across disparate systems. That’s why many companies are partnering with customer data platforms (CDPs) to unify their data and make it more actionable.

He added: “You can use the same set of signals across different channels whether somebody calls in or goes to the UPS store. We now have a way to truly hyper-personalise.”

Unleash your personalisation potential

Third-party cookie deprecation has sparked innovation in alternative methods to improve personalisation while protecting consumer privacy at the same time. This includes advancements in AI and machine learning, which, when combined with privacy-compliant first-party data, unlock new capabilities.

Mindshare’s Shane McAndrew said that third-party cookies were never really fit for purpose, and firmly believes that personalisation will improve in the privacy-first era. He said: “Cookies are illusory objects. People believe that they’re much more accurate and stable than they actually are, so I feel like we’re treading water, and we can do much better.”

McAndrew also believes that privacy-enhancing technologies, like data clean rooms, will further facilitate opportunities for companies to build upon their valuable, consented first-party data.

Data clean rooms enable second-party data sharing with trusted partners in a neutral, privacy-compliant environment, so companies can garner new customer insights and better tailor their marketing messages without compromising the privacy of individual users.

McAndrew added: “We’re going to be able to get more personal in more spaces with a more collected and connected kind of experience.”

Take advantage of alternatives

While first-party data offers clear advantages, scaling it can be challenging. When used in conjunction with universal identifiers (UIDs), companies can tap into the broader data ecosystem to reach a wider audience, gain deeper insights, and deliver more targeted campaigns, while still respecting user privacy and consent.

For example, The Trade Desk’s UID2 is a privacy-centric identifier derived from a user’s email address or phone number and is completely independent of third-party cookies. Companies can then use these identifiers to create more detailed audience segments based on user behaviour, preferences, and demographics and deliver more granular and targeted messaging. In fact, Disney, a client of Trade Desk, has found UIDs to be 12 times more effective at reaching its audience across Disney’s ad marketplace.

But as the Trade Desk’s Natalie Kansteiner cautions, marketers need to be clear on their identity strategy.

She said: “How are you going to use your customer data platform (CDP) to its advantage using universal identifiers to power your solutions and start moving away from cookies? And that includes your website, too.

“You need to think about how you can ensure you’re getting authentication or generally getting people to provide an email address so that you can provide them with personalised content both now and into the future.”

Rethink measurement and attribution

Finally, the deprecation of third-party cookies means brands and media companies will effectively lose the primary mechanism they’ve used to power their attribution and measurement strategies for decades.

Fortunately, UIDs enable marketers to track user behaviour across multiple devices, providing a comprehensive understanding of the user journey and the ability to attribute actions to specific marketing efforts.

As an additional safeguard, McAndrew noted how MindShare is encouraging clients to pair what-if scenario planning with machine learning-driven media mix modelling (MMM), which is faster, more efficient, more granular, and covers a more comprehensive channel mix.

“MMM is the core, and we pair that with incrementality testing,” said McAndrew. “It’s the one-two punch that gives you both a macro view with MMM, along with a micro view on what’s happening incrementally, tactic by tactic and audience by audience.”

The future is first-party

Ultimately, brands that fail to prioritise first-party data are at risk of losing customers and revenue.

Staying ahead means adopting technology that enables them to collect, unify, and activate the first-party data they already have, and exploring ways to expand this data using privacy-compliant methods like UIDs and data clean rooms. Only then can marketers future-proof their business while gaining deeper audience insights, delivering better personalisation, and ultimately gaining a competitive edge.

Anne Curtin is director of corporate marketing at BlueConic

Performance Marketing World

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