The news that online behemoths Google and Apple were set to transform web marketing as we currently know it, was understandably met with some alarm by many in the industry. With Google planning to get rid of third party cookie use across its popular Chrome browser, and Apple similarly looking to remove user device identifiers on its iOS platform, marketing professionals have been left to face a number of questions, ranging from the implications for successfully targeting individuals and ascertaining campaign outcomes, through to the risks associated with ad fraud.
A Seismic Shift For Marketers
It’s natural that marketers should be apprehensive about the changes in store. After all, the use of third party cookies has been integral to online marketing approaches for over a decade. With the potential to effectively target key demographics, track consumer behaviour and analyse campaign outcomes, at present it’s hard to imagine how successful strategies might be implemented in the future. However, there looks set to be plenty of positive news for marketing professionals once the real implications of a cookieless internet are examined.
Targeted Advertising Has Failed
One key benefit will actually be a direct result of an impaired ability to target ads at individuals. Whilst this seems to be counter-intuitive at face value, the reality is that, today, many marketing firms are paying ad tech companies for targeting services which are simply not fit for purpose. Ad tech firms sell their services on a basis of targeting parameters which, when scrutinised by academics, are far less accurate than you might expect.
Indeed, a simple gender targeting parameter was found to be accurate in only 42% of the time: considerably under the natural 50% gender split of the general population. Marketers who had paid out for the benefits of this supposedly targeted advertising would have seen better results had they saved their money. And when more than one targeting parameter is applied, the success rate drops accordingly, to an average 24% accuracy rate. A broad marketing approach would certainly be more effective.
The question of paying for “retargeted ads” can also be eliminated, and marketers can focus instead on seeing results through the binary metrics of “exposed” or “not exposed”. Marketers will be able to assess whether the “exposed” ad viewers went on to make a purchase, which is essentially the most important signifier of any campaign’s success.
A Chance To Innovate
Ultimately, the rise of a cookie-free future will mean that marketers will have the opportunity to get creative in their approaches. This can include a return to the more traditional ways of doing things, such as brand building.
It can also mean that innovative new marketing strategies can be explored and applied in the absence of cookies and targeted ad tech. Teaming up with pay per click marketing specialists can pay dividends too, by introducing you to new approaches that you may not have tried before, such as a new CRM platform.
After all, today’s consumers expect a great experience online, alongside a personalized approach, which until now has been largely afforded by third party cookies. Now, marketing must make better use of the first party data at its disposal in order to provide the engaging experience customers want.
What Needs To Be Done Now
A recent study by Adobe found that a mere 37% of companies consider themselves “very prepared” for a cookieless future. Amit Ahuja, vice president for Experience Cloud product and strategy at Adobe, explained “The fact that 63% of organizations are not prepared for a cookieless world points to a tremendous opportunity in moving to first-party data strategies now to create long-term differentiation.”
To avoid falling behind, in preparation for the demise of third party cookies, there are a few important steps to take now. First of all, run a thorough evaluation of the first party data that you currently collect from customers, and ensure that this is being handled securely and accurately. Carry out an audit to ensure that all of your tech systems will be able to deliver a solid foundation of accessible first party data, and make changes if necessary. This first party data can be used to produce powerful insights for marketing strategies, so have a plan in place for how you can maximize its benefits. Again, working with online specialists to devise such approaches can be very useful.
Gaining this data will require a new focus on the customer experience, too. Without the use of third party cookies, consumers will want to see value in giving up their personal information to brands. Consider how you can make the prospect more attractive through offering discounts, exclusive content, freebies or other perks, and look forward to building brand loyalty as a bonus.
A Bright Future
Happily, this cookie-free future looks brighter than many have feared. For consumers, the prospect of increased privacy helps build confidence and is surely a long-overdue improvement, particularly in light of the number of high-profile data breaches seen in recent years.
For marketers, meanwhile, the changes will necessitate adaptation and innovation, but ultimately the prospect of better results. Without the misplaced faith in targeted advertising, marketers will, instead, be able to develop meaningful strategies that can deliver tangible results. After all, with levels of online engagement currently at an all time high, now is the time for smart marketers to build meaningful, lasting -and rewarding- relationships between brands and consumers.