The future of marketing is cookieless. Cookies, or small pieces of code that track users’ interaction with websites and apps, have been key to targeting in online advertising for the past few decades. By storing information about site preferences and location, cookies have allowed marketers to deliver more relevant content—and improve the user experience.
Soon, however, cookies are going away. Google announced plans to stop supporting cookies in their Chrome browser. Even though they’ve extended the timeline to 2024, this shift away from using cookies still represents a significant change in how businesses market to consumers online.
While cookieless marketing isn’t the end of personalized marketing, it does require rethinking your approach. The time to start is now. The good news? There are multiple steps you can take to prepare for cookieless marketing.
Ensure you have first-party data systems in place
The most straightforward solution to the end of cookies is using first-party data—that is, data you collect about your audience yourself—rather than relying on third-party data from cookies.
Third-party data refers to data businesses purchase from outside sources that are not the source of that data. So, company A collects the data and sells it to Company B. Company B may combine multiple data sources and then sell it to Company C, who uses the data to develop marketing campaigns and target users.
The issue with third-party data is it’s not always accurate. In addition, you’re not the only business that buys it. This means you might not be helping your marketing as much as you think. First-party data, however, is data collected on your website about your actual site visitors. This data is more accurate (because it’s about real site visitors) and provides a competitive advantage, since your competitors can’t access it.
Before implementing first-party data, make sure you have user consent in place for first-party cookies (also known as a cookie notice). As you collect data, analyze it in order to uncover important insights you can then use to optimize the customer journey.
Consider contextual advertising
Cookies allow advertisers to target users based on their behavior. For example, advertisers can target based on words searched or links clicked.
Contextual advertising targets users based on the type of content they are interested in. Contextual advertising is bidding for space on websites that rank for keywords related to the products or services you offer. This will allow you to reach a broad audience and expand your customer base. For example, say you sell televisions. In a cookieless world, you’ll no longer have access to as much data about which consumers are actively looking for a television. However, with contextual advertising, you can target users reading a site that compares different television models.
Contextual advertising doesn’t require cookies and can deliver more relevant ads. Using contextual advertising is automated, so this won’t take up much more of your time. And, because you’re reaching a carefully targeted audience, ad spend should be lower than display ads.
Survey your customers
Since you’re no longer using third-party cookies to create hyper-targeted ads, strategize on new ways that you can strengthen your relationship with customers. Find creative ways to get customers’ information to better understand your audience and what they need.
Start by building your email list. To get customer emails, you can offer downloads, tools, or newsletters that offer relevant information about their industry. Then, you can send out a survey at regular intervals to better understand how the people on your email list feel about your brand. What are their pain points? What features or products could you offer to solve those issues?
Leverage that input or data to reshape your marketing efforts. You might ask which platforms they prefer to communicate on or how they rate the usefulness of a new tool you launched. Market research metrics like Net Promoter Scores can also help understand how customers feel about your brand.
Finally, pay close attention to metrics like retention or average order size. These help you learn how engaged your audience is with your brand.
Explore second-party data solutions
Second-party data refers to marketing data you buy directly from the source that gathers it. This can include data on website activity, in-store purchases, survey history, and app activities. For example, both Apple and Google offer aggregated data about consumers.
Second-party data from sources like Google and Apple offers some of the same benefits of first-party data—it’s higher quality and you can purchase just the data you need to better target your audience.
For example, say you sell fashion apparel. You know cookieless marketing is coming, so you have implemented a plan to gather first-party data by building an email list and requiring users to sign in to make a purchase. But, you want to better understand your audience so you pair with an online publication about sneakers to purchase their first-party data and combine this with your own data.
Now you can integrate this data into your marketing strategy and use it to deliver more relevant offers, styles, and content to your customer base.
Ensure you have a marketing data platform in place
The end of cookies represents a shift in the way businesses market to their customers, however there is still plenty of data businesses can use to better understand their audiences and deliver a better customer experience.
To make the most of all those data points, use a marketing platform like Zeta Global CDP+ to connect your diverse data points and create an omnichannel marketing strategy. Using Zeta Global’s CDP+, you can pull all your data together, clean it, and use the resulting insights to target users on social media, through paid ads, and build a more effective website. Unlocking insights from your data is key to navigating the cookie-free marketing world.
Final thoughts on cookieless marketing
A cookieless marketing world is in the very near future. While you have a bit more time to prepare for Google, third-party cookies are already banned on Safari and Firefox.
The good news is the end of cookies isn’t a bad thing for marketers or businesses. Rather, it serves as an opportunity to rebuild your marketing strategy and reconnect with your customers to deliver a more personalized and relevant experience online.
Zeta Global CDP+ helps brands deliver personalized experiences without cookies and provides more control over data. Contact us to learn how we can help your organization thrive in a future without cookies.