Navigating a Cookieless World with Augmented First-party Data

by Stuart Russell Planning-inc

Ever since Google announced its plans to phase out third-party cookies in Chrome by 2023, there’s been an ongoing debate on what the true impact will be for digital marketers.

Many argue the move is unimpactful and long overdue – which is only fair if we take into account the low quality of the data or the fact that users’ are increasingly blocking or deleting cookie tracking.

On the other hand, if we take a closer look at marketers’ reactions to Google’s ban, the measure seems a little less easy to stomach.

Forty-one per cent of marketers claimed their biggest challenge going forward will be their inability to track the right data. Moreover, according to stats reported by HubSpot, 44 per cent predict a need to increase their spending by five per cent to 25 per cent in order to reach the same goals as 2021, suggesting the transition will be far from seamless. Besides, we must remember that Chrome accounts for almost 65 per cent of web browsing, and with Mozilla, Firefox, and Safari already banning some kinds of online tracking, the promise of a cookieless world mounts pressure on the use of first-party data – the only type of data marketers will have at their disposal.

So if your marketing team has been relying on third-party cookies, the restriction on this type of data will likely concern you.

By the second half of 2023, your marketing team will need to rely exclusively on the data that the brand is able to gather, analyse, and manage from its very own channels. Big or small, this brings many challenges. Stuart Russell, CSO at Planning-inc, explains how you can prepare ahead of time.

Touches of empathy

Think about it – every single brand will be focused solely on first-party data once third-party cookies are phased out, which means retaining customers and creating loyal relationships with users will become all the more imperative. But here’s the thing – referring to customer demographics, purchase history, website activity or email engagement data alone probably won’t cut it. While this might enable personalised campaigns, it’s unlikely to surprise and delight customers. So, the next step is to go beyond personalisation and demonstrate data-driven empathy.

By combining traditional first-party data with more personal details customers directly and voluntarily share with your brand, your marketing team will be set to contextualise communications with a broader appreciation of their customers’ beliefs and interests, moving beyond a purely transactional relationship and developing long-term success stories.

In addition, by periodically encouraging customers to give you more information voluntarily, by asking them how they want to be spoken to, treated, or even perceived, your brand will be consistently showing interest in their ever-changing needs, and in the same way, it will receive continuous feedback to deliver more hyper personalised campaigns.

Not only will this enhance your team’s persona segmentations, it will help you achieve the ultimate level of customer-centricity.

Like all good relationships, it’s a two-way street

Either you maximise your first-party data or you’ll fall behind in the cookieless world, it’s as simple as that. That being said, your marketing team might want to seize every opportunity it currently has to gather as much insight as possible from customers. But like in all relationships, it can be exhausting (or even fatal) to receive so much and not give something in exchange.

However, there are ways your marketing team can reward customers for voluntarily giving personal information. By using the insights they’ve provided, from their purchase intentions to how they want to be recognised by the brand, your marketing team can create and offer rewards for their customers that they actually want and engage with.

From loyalty packages, tailored communications to useful and insightful content that they want to read, the aim must be to make each individual’s experience flawless. To do this, you will want to avoid any frictions in the journey by using predictive analytics that make the relationship more consistent and, most importantly, your augmented first-party data invitations must factor in transparency about how you plan to use data.

Just because their cookies aren’t being tracked doesn’t mean they won’t be interested to see how the data they voluntarily share will be used.

Things grow stronger when you integrate

First-party data will be the one and only asset no one can take away from you in the post-cookies era, so this should be seen as the most precious tool at the disposal of marketers.

Augmenting this type of data will be crucial to retain your loyal customers, but automating the whole process of connecting, accessing, amplifying, activating across channels and, above all, having a clear control of the marketing performance will be vital.

Needless to say, this dynamic, agile process of data can’t be left to marketers alone to operationalise. In order to augment and implement first party-data correctly, dynamic infrastructures that collect, process, and activate an overwhelming amount of data in real time to gain a holistic view of the customer will be required. That will be the compass for the cookieless world and if marketers can navigate it before the deadline, they should have nothing to worry about.