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Third party cookies have been under significant consumer fire since UK cookie law made their consent mandatory back in 2011. Since then, Firefox and Safari have both taken industry-changing moves to block third party cookies that have the potential to leave consumer data, and general ethics, at significant risk.
Back in January 2020, Google announced that it would phase out third party cookies in Chrome by early 2022. While this date has since been pushed back to 2023 to enable further development of the ‘Google Privacy Sandbox,’ with which Google plans to replace third party cookie usage, the fact remains that elimination from Google Chrome looks to be the final nail in the coffin for third party cookies.
Only by preparing can marketers ensure that cookie-less campaigns don’t take a hit. In this article, we consider what exactly that preparation should look like, and how that can help when Google Privacy Sandbox finally launches.
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The death of third party cookies
Traditionally used for ad tracking and the collection of general browsing trends, third party cookies are placed on a user’s hard drive by domains other than those that they’re browsing. Increasingly sceptical consumers already admit to blocking third party cookies in as many as 64% of cases.
While even the companies who use them can’t deny that this shift is positive in terms of privacy, the fact remains that the total elimination of third party cookies also poses a significant risk in an age where 80% of modern consumers favour the personalised experience that their usage makes possible. It’s this realisation that has led to the development of Google’s ‘Privacy Sandbox’, an initiative that aims to directly replace third party cookies in terms of marketing value, while simultaneously addressing long-standing issues that include:
- Previous misuse of data: By limiting collection to only essential data, and also eliminating the need to share data through a proposed ‘Federated Learning of Cohorts’ (FLoCs), Google’s Privacy Sandbox aims to ensure only efficient, value-led data use that avoids previous misuses, as seen in cases like Facebook’s Cambridge Analytical scandal.
- Privacy compromises: Increased privacy, and transparent data collection processes, are at the heart of all aspects of Google’s Sandbox, including an Aggregated Reporting API that intends to address fraud in real-time.
- Compliance with privacy laws: By eliminating the tracking of individual users in place of collective data sets, Google Privacy Sandbox also intends to simplify compliance with new privacy laws.
Preparation is key
For marketers who still lean heavily on third party cookie usage, continuing to achieve those same personalisation benefits across online advertising is dependent on preparation that should be well underway by 2023. Here, we’re going to simplify that process by considering what those preparations are, and how they can help businesses overcome the loss of third party cookies in Chrome.
1. Focus on first party cookies
Generated from all consumer activity on a website, including page views (which generate an astonishing 40 data points!) and interactivities, first party cookies offer a far less questionable way for websites to collect relevant data. Right now, companies could benefit from implementing tools that narrow down on this first party focus, as well as better utilising the first party data that they already have for the continued development of relevant consumer profiles that include age, location, and even browsing histories.
2. Grow your first party database
Implementing more driven first party policies, as mentioned, will help to grow first party databases, especially with the right tools or partnerships to better harvest all relevant data of this nature. Internal efforts towards first party growth should also be implemented for the most expansive possible reach, and will generally include:
- User registration
- Event-based tracking across activity/searches
- Email subscription sign-ups
- Increased interactions across social media
3. Clean up your current first party data
The seamless capitalisation of first party data isn’t possible if your repositories are stuffed with unwieldy, and often non-compliant, information. It’s therefore essential to undergo extreme clean up operations that bring first party databases to a point of usability. The ability to sift through, and automatically sort/eliminate first party data in accordance with organisational objectives, and compliance will be imperative for efficient functionality after Google discontinues third party cookies in Chrome.
4. Consider people-based targeting
Defined by MartechSeries as “a means to create a customer-centric, cohesive marketing system that revolves around customers and their real-time behavioural data,” people-based marketing strategies aim to treat each consumer as an individual. rather than part of a collected whole. Companies should especially focus on implementing the three determinants of successful people-based targeting right now, which are:
- Identification: The ability to identify and connect consumers correctly to various devices.
- Data: The ability to connect both historical and real-time data points across devices, including website views, cart activity, browsing, and more.
- Automation: Single-source data generation eliminates the need for third party cookies by enabling an automated, omnichannel marketing approach across devices.
5. Take time to strategise
A well-implemented strategy can spell the difference between success or failure, and this has never been truer than in the face of such a significant operational shakeup. Modern strategies need to reconsider overall marketing objectives, as well as target audiences and potentially diverse ways to reach them through transparent data collection processes, including social media platforms, surveys, and more.
6. Place more emphasis on context
Contextual advertising that’s relevant to other content on the screen (e.g. advertising books on a book reviewer site) offers a fantastic way to achieve personalisation even without third party insight. By taking the time to develop contextual strategies through the use of tailored keywords and tools like Google’s AdSense, companies can better ensure relevant, conversion-creating placement without a cookie in sight.
7. Implement a diversified marketing strategy
Diversification is the only way to cover the gaps that third party cookies will inevitably leave. Hence, as well as implementing the full scope of alternatives mentioned here, companies also need to make sure that they’re perfecting marketing across a wide range of often neglected alternatives such as:
- In-person marketing
- Word of mouth
- Social media campaigns
- Collaborate to understand audiences better
8. Collaborate to understand audiences better
Displayed perfectly through examples like Uber’s collaboration with Spotify, collaborative marketing that involves the coming together of complementary businesses for mutual benefit can enhance brand trust and reputation, as well as granting access to entirely new consumer sets. By developing positive brand relationships through outlets like social media and networking events, companies can get to work creating positive, profitable collaborations that will help compensate for the loss of third party cookies.
9. Don’t panic
Panic at this stage is both unhelpful and potentially damaging, as well as being fundamentally unnecessary considering that everyone’s in the same boat. Google is still very much in the development stages (and accepting feedback) for their Privacy Sandbox. As a result, a calm approach to adaptable, testable solutions is required to ensure a smooth and seamless transition when D day comes.
10. Partner with a digital marketing agency
With Google policies still very much in flux, and marketing approaches that omit the traditional usage of third party cookies often feeling like a stab in the dark, pairing with a digital marketing agency is a great way to prepare for the upcoming changes with Google third party cookies. The help of experienced professionals can not only ensure real-time shifts in accordance with whatever Google does next, but also the stress-free preparation that allows you to focus on other areas of your business. The assistance and oversight possible with digital marketing agencies also means that you can quickly begin to understand, and even flourish, in a post-cookie Chrome.
There’s still a little while left until Google puts the final nail in the cookie coffin, meaning that you still have time to make sure you’re fully prepared when that day comes. In fact, ample preparation here could see companies turning the potential hurdles of this change presents into opportunities to gain a competitive advantage against less-prepared competitors, especially if they take this time to get ahead with key focuses such as:
- Enhancing all elements of first party cookie usage
- Developing transparent, consumer-led strategies
- Making use of fully diversified marketing
- Staying calm, and carrying on selling
All of this will be far easier to achieve by working with a digital marketing agency. At Gripped, our team is here to provide the expertise, knowledge, and guidance you need to prepare for the end of third party cookies. This much-needed support makes it far easier to kiss goodbye to third party cookies, and say hello to a future of marketing that really gets your audience on board.