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Purnima Balraju & Samantha Lim

Published on

July 15, 2021


digital marketing, Marketing Analytics

With consumers pressuring Big Tech giants for greater privacy protection, it comes as no surprise that Google is phasing out third-party cookies.

Among marketers, this news has rattled the Ad world. It changes how we engage with our target audiences and brings a shift toward building authentic customer connections and handling their data ethically. This renewed emphasis on privacy has in turn restricted marketers’ access to ad-tracking data, pushing us to find creative ways to reach our target audience.

How can marketers survive a cookie-less world?

Without third-party cookies, identifying and reaching our target audience at some digital touch points may not be possible. Here are 3 ways to overcome this:

  1. Invest in strategies to get first-party data
  2. Going back to marketing fundamentals
  3. Leveraging mar-tech platforms

Invest in Strategies for 1st Party Data

So, you’ve implemented first-party cookies, that’s great. Take it a step further and analyse the data on your web analytics platform. What are the top 10 visited pages? What are the main traffic sources driving users to your website? Where are the opportunities to exchange information with valuable content? Use the information to continue to build out your customer journey map.

Apart from using data from your analytics tools, don’t forget data from your company’s owned social channels. For instance, examining your conversion tracking data on your Facebook shop would be helpful in determining your audience’s purchasing preferences and habits. This, along with data from your website, paints a big picture of the actions or signals required to convert your customer. Data consolidation gives you an idea of how to push your target audience further down the marketing funnel, and which actions would lead them to make a purchase.


Back to Marketing Fundamentals

Before third-party cookies, how did marketers engage their target audience? They went back to the basics – relying on customer journey maps to understand the pain points and delight points of their target audience.

Studying customer journey maps and plotting out what customers interact with at which online and offline touch points provides valuable insight on how your brand can create value for them. One key aspect is to review the content created for your audience. For instance, if your audience has concerns about how to use your product or service before purchasing it, an FAQ section would help resolve that pain point. Another example, if you have a wide range of products, creating a tool to help your audience find the most suitable one for them will create a pleasant experience when interacting with your brand.

Martech Platforms

The use of platforms such as ATS (Authenticated Traffic Solution) allows marketers to buy ad space on publishers’ platforms where consumers have a mutually exclusive agreement with them. It works similarly to a third-party cookie, this time with consent from the audience. It is an ethical way to market your brand’s product or service

Another pivotal martech platform would be the use of a CRM software. Personalise your message by segmenting your customer database – you could even go granular to deliver different types of content based on where they are at in the customer journey. Audience segmentation, prioritising which audience to target, and creating personalised messages helps nurture your customers down the marketing and sales funnel.

If Google is phasing out third-party cookies, could we just use its replacement?

To quickly tide marketers over, the ID-based model would be an option. It works like the third-party cookie, just that it tracks users via hashed email IDs. Google’s replacement for the cookie, the Privacy Sandbox, is currently in the trial phase. Unlike third party-cookies, this groups audiences by broad interests and online behaviours. This protects the privacy of users, albeit a little loosely.

While it would seem tempting to use Google’s replacement or other ad models, in our opinion, these are short-term solutions. Privacy is a key concern among consumers and privacy legislation is continually evolving. Seeing how ad-blockers and browsers that block the use of third-party cookies are now commonplace, marketers will need to continue exploring creative ways to reach their target audiences without overstepping data privacy boundaries.

A more sustainable solution would be to take the time to consolidate your company’s first-party data and use historical data to derive insights for your customer journey map. Keep validating that map with user testing and invest in a robust martech stack to help reach and engage your target audience at the right time.

With all these options and workarounds, it can be daunting to identify the best place to get started. But there is ample time to adapt and prepare for a cookie-less world in 2023, read how here.

Curious about digital marketing in a soon-to-be cookie-less world? Get in touch with our experts to rethink your digital marketing strategy. 

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