The Future of Digital Marketing In A Cookie-Less World

Is relying on third-party data providers a viable option given that data security is a major concern in today’s day & age?

Every day we hear news about data breaches at significant companies. Data being the new currency, malicious hackers find new ways to exploit data safe keeps and use it to obtain rhetoric ransoms. Therefore, the question arises if relying on third-party data providers is a viable option given data security is a major concern in today’s day & age?

Cookies have been an important part of the digital ecosystem. Their introduction brought a sense of ease to online marketers and advertisers who were otherwise counting on traditional mass-marketing options like TV ads and outdoor hoardings. From improving customer experience to identifying audience behaviour, cookies have been an integral feature of web browsing. With the coming of cookies, it was made possible to target consumers directly, understand their journey and offer personalised services tailored to their experience. After all, personalisation has been a driver of digital and cookies allowed efficient tracking and a better buying cycle.

However, last year, cookies came under fire and vast speculation. Advertisers bombarded cookies onto their customers, with an average publisher hosting over 10 advertising cookies at a time for every user. These third-party cookies, acting as trackers, came under the radar as more and more people across the world started talking about concerns regarding user privacy, data security and regulations. In 2020 Google, the behemoth whose ad cookies were a staple to browser diet, announced their plans to move away from the archaic technology.This came following the suite of the #2 and #3 of browsers, namely Safari and Firefox, decided to block out-of-site cookies by default. 

No Third-party Cookies: What Does It Mean For Digital Marketing?

Once eradicated, the delivery of personalised messages and predictive consumer behaviour was bound to be difficult. The customer acquisition cost (CAC) and the return on ad spend (ROAS) were also sighted to bear the damage of cookie-lessness. Other areas that would suffer were frequency capping, behavioural targeting and retargeting, customer retention, and getting a similar audience base and driving customer engagement. 

All this will make the brand building more challenging than earlier, given that brands heavily depend on data to design an effective marketing campaign. Third-party cookies also provided important insights on page visits, views, clicks, etc. So, without them, marketers will retrain visibility on which touchpoints are leading to conversions, which will impact the choice for the appropriate channel and ad spend planning. 

However, with an increased cyber security threat, it is well established today that user data safety is inviolable. With lawmakers watching and the increasing reach of the privacy debate, it is wise for brands to go cookieless to acquire customers in the long run. 

How To Go Cookie-less And Still Dominate?

Brands need to adapt quickly as the elimination of third-party cookies is very close to getting completed. And given the uncertainty of the near future, it is expected that we will see a few months of confusion and several hits and trials before we get a clear understanding of the whole cookie-less internet. 

According to a report by ET and Aroscop, 8% of the participants claimed they are already venturing into alternate solutions. A key player that will emerge more victorious than anticipated now is first-party data. Brands can easily use the data they collected from their visitors and process them to devise their marketing approach. All you have to do is skim through and analyse your site’s CRM, page interaction, conversion funnels, key performance metrics and other similar yardsticks. 

Third-party cookies made marketers forget the power of declared data. It is time that declared data gets its due since it is one of the most reliable and rich sources of customer data. Many customers are happy to provide authentic information about their demographics and purchase intent in return for personalised services. Declared data can be collected with the help of marketing chatbots and consolidating them with Facebook Messenger and Instagram. 

The coming time will also see the increased incorporation of email marketing. Email marketing is one of those classic marketing mediums that is here to stay for the long run. Email marketing is an outstanding tool for driving sales revenue, building a relationship with your audience, and understanding them better. 

The immediate cookie-less scenario does seem a little hazy, but this is also an exciting time for witnessing innovative cookie-less marketing solutions using AI and machine learning. There is no doubt that access to data is precious, but consent makes that data use ethical. This step is also aligned with the common global goal of free and open internet. Hence, the cookie-less world will be a stepping stone for creating a healthier online world while still offering enough opportunities for relevant marketing plans.

The Author is Manas Gulati, Co-founder & CEO, #ARM Worldwide.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article above are those of the authors' and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of this publishing house. Unless otherwise noted, the author is writing in his/her personal capacity. They are not intended and should not be thought to represent official ideas, attitudes, or policies of any agency or institution.