Since January 2020, marketers have been left confused by articles and mixed information about Google’s impending plans to block third-party cookies in Chrome. As the most used browser worldwide, it marks the start of a great unknown for many brands and advertisers. There’s still time to prepare, however, as Google’s initial plans to have this implemented by 2022 have now been pushed to 2023.
A huge 81% of companies rely on third-party cookies, so there’s a lot of preparation that needs to take place. That said, the ultimate outcome of this controversial move will serve the best interests of consumers and even brands themselves in the long run.
What does the end of Google’s third-party cookies mean?
Brands will create better strategies for engaging with their audiences, build better experiences and ultimately gain more qualitative first-party data. Firefox and Safari have already blocked these cookies, but as they are used much less than Chrome, brands have not yet had their hands forced to consider new strategies.
Customers will also become more trusting and confident in brands and digital marketing generally over time.
Strategies brands can implement to prepare
Before we explore the simple yet effective steps brands can take, let’s familiarise ourselves with the different types of data that are collected and how.
How do companies collect behavioural data?
- First-party data – the data collected by your company directly from a prospect
- Second-party data – the data collected from a trusted authority or source, such as a relevant publication
- Third-party data – ‘First-party’ data collected by a company and then sold on
Based on this, one of the most obvious strategies for brands to take is to assess their existing customer communication and touchpoints, and determine where they can extract first-party data from. This could be from a CRM, customer service representatives, surveys or registered accounts that have opted into you collecting their data.
Another way to reduce the impact of no third-party data would be to create a strategic partnership with another brand in your industry. A legitimate partnership could allow you to share first-party data within certain segments and targeting.
Brands could also explore something called contextual advertising. This could be banner ads surrounding a relevant article, a sponsored product within an advertorial or segment-specific ads served on a publishing website. Location and time-based advertising will still remain, too.
Other effective ways to collect first-party data
#1 Polish your existing first-party data
As already briefly mentioned, your own data is your most powerful tool. Conducting a full audit of your data capture forms and mechanisms will help you establish higher levels of detail for your personalisation marketing. However, remember that the more effort a user has to put in, the less likely they are to engage.
If additional fields are critical, consider the design and UX of the forms themselves, and if there are any ways to improve upon the journey. The amount of data you collect will be slow and ongoing, so if you haven’t started yet, get on it right away. You’ll also need to make sure the way you capture your first-party data is compliant, otherwise, your efforts will be a hiding to nothing.
The good news is that first-party data will never be obsolete, so the investment will be worth it.
#2 Monitor behaviours on your own website
The more a user engages with your site, the more you learn. Implementing tracking on specific actions and behaviours will help you segment audiences for retargeting campaigns. When a user logs into your website, you can interact on a much more personalised level, without the new cookie rules affecting you.
#3 Uncover the power of the inbox
Email and SMS provide a great platform to monitor certain behaviours that can provide valuable insights into your marketing. Understanding who is opening what will help you segment audiences based on their interests, although without them explicitly saying they are interested. It’s a risk, but one well worth testing.
#4 Create surveys and opinion groups
Creating focus groups and asking for input on particular topics can give consumers a sense of authority and also help provide you with qualitative and quantitative data about your customers. Online surveys can be incentivised with discounts or vouchers to increase uptake. Often some of the most powerful insights can come directly from your customers.
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