The year 2021 brought many changes, one of which was the beginning of the gradual death of cookies. Global experience makers were shocked by Google’s announcement that they would be phasing out cookies by 2023.
Third-party cookies account for $100 billion in digital advertising spend currently, so the announcement caused concern among many. Only 37% of brands are prepared to move to a cookieless future, according to research – while 60% of all experience personalisation is currently based on third party data.
Nevertheless, it shouldn’t matter how Google timed its announcement. Digital experience is dominated by first-party data – data that sites collect directly from their users. It is estimated that companies that don’t figure out a strategy to maintain and even grow their access to first-party data will spend 10 to 20% more on marketing and sales in order to generate the same results.
What does this mean, and what can be done to prepare?
First-Party Trust Is The Way Of The Future
No matter what your stance on third-party data is, we know that great customer experiences are built on first-party data. We know that consumers expect their brand experiences to be personalized, while maintaining control over their personal data. Consumers want brands they can trust to give them authentic experiences.
By fostering trust and enabling value exchange between you and your customers, first-party data strategies and platforms promote growth. This moment is less about the ‘death of cookies’ and more about building trust and connecting creatively with customers, says Adobe’s Gabbi Stubbs, Senior Product Marketing Manager for APAC.
Stubb says: “Consumer trust is key, and first-party data sets the foundation for a trust-based relationship with customers. The simple act of owning our own data, and having our customers willingly opt-in, redefines our relationship with them and puts it on an equal footing. First party data enables you to really know your customers and develop more meaningful insights about them to help develop better experiences with their evolving needs”.
Phaseout of Third-Party Cookies: A Brief History
In February 2021, Google announced the phaseout and provided initial reasoning for it. Google explained the move was introduced to protect users’ privacy.
“Users are demanding greater privacy–including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used–and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands” – Google
The tech company wrote that Google will gradually phase out the third-party cookie over the next two years as it works with advertisers to ensure this pivot won’t compromise online advertising. Firefox and Safari had already phased out the third-party cookie before Google’s post.
There have been browsers that have responded to these concerns by blocking third-party cookies, but the blog post notes this can negatively impact both users and the web ecosystem. Google believes that blunt approaches to cookies undermine many ad-supported websites’ business models and lead to the use of opaque technologies such as fingerprinting, which reduces user privacy and control.
In spite of the fact that Chrome isn’t the first browser to phase out third-party cookies, it is the biggest. By the end of 2019, Google Chrome had more than 56% of the market. More than half of all web traffic worldwide is driven by Google Chrome.
Among the browsers that block third-party cookies, Safari and Firefox come in second and third, respectively.
By 2022, Chrome, Safari, and Firefox will all no longer support third-party tracking. Media outlets like Digiday have called Google’s phase-out the “death of the cookie.”
The Key To A Successful Strategy Is Collaboration
When developing first-party data strategies, there are three key factors to consider. According to John Mackenney, Adobe’s Principal Digital Strategist APAC, brands should move to long term thinking, galvanize their leadership and empower their employees.
As challenging as it is to move from a sales strategy focused on lifetime value, there is also a tremendous opportunity here. Although third-party cookies cannot be replaced, it is now time to focus on first-party data. An organisation whose first-party data has been compiled for some time now has the opportunity to see the benefits of that investment.
Data-Driven Action In An Infinite World
Do you want to optimize your own journey from third-party to first-party data? Here are three steps to get you started.
Begin small and simplify
By starting with the smallest depth of data first, you will avoid analysis paralysis. Identify low-cost campaigns or initiatives that have high business impact, so when you go to your stakeholders, you can demonstrate your success.
Optimise and learn
From dimensions to messaging to UX and UI design and all the way down to targeting rules – consider not only the rule but also how it is applied. Optimisation is a vital part of improving customer experience.
Increase your first-party data
It’s great to be able to understand where, when and who, but what we’re missing is why. By looking at things such as user testing or talking to your customer-facing team, you can gain a more holistic understanding of your customers.
To read the full Google article, click here.