We’re starting this article a little differently, we’re going to ask you an important question. As a marketer, where do you get your most important customer data from? Third-party cookies are more than likely to help you know your customers. As convenient as this process is, things in the world of online marketing are about to change.
The folks at Google have announced that starting in 2022, they will no longer support third-party cookies in their Google Chrome browser. In view of the fact that around 3.2 billion people in the world have Chrome as the default browser, this certainly results in a pretty dramatic change.
What are cookies ?
In case you didn’t know, cookies are a feature that marketers and web developers use to track the activity of people visiting their websites as well as the pages they switch to after visiting the site. These cookies collect important user data that can be used to improve marketing efforts.
Google’s announcement regarding the non-support of cookies means that this information and data will no longer be available. Well, they won’t be that readily available. Marketers will need to contact customers directly to determine their needs and wants.
This announcement is by no means a new topic of discussion. In fact, the company first mentioned it in February 2020. Chrome isn’t the first browser to do so. Firefox and Safari started blocking third-party cookies in 2013 already. Chrome is the biggest browser to make this change, however. In doing so, this is the last nail in the coffin, with many calling it « cookie death ».
Growing pressures to ensure data privacy in the ever-changing digital world have played a role in this somewhat drastic change in the usability of Chrome. While data privacy is an important consideration, it will influence how marketers will be able to review and access user data. This led to the announcement receiving mixed responses from businesses and individuals.
The world’s reaction to the end of cookies
According to Hub Spot, marketers fear that they will not have access to the “right data”. In an attempt to track their performance, 44% of marketers surveyed predict that they will need to increase their spending by up to 25% to meet the same requirements as in 2021.
Email marketing is set to grow in popularity as marketers attempt to connect directly with their customers.
How Chrome will provide information about the data
Google’s suite of advertising tools already give marketers access to so much important user data. With the demise of third-party cookies, Google’s tracking methods will be powered by APIs aimed at maintaining data privacy while providing relevant data to marketers and advertisers.
This change will only really impact marketers who had relied heavily on third-party cookies for data. Any marketer worth his salt should have several methods of data collection in place, and this ad shouldn’t change their marketing strategy so much.
It’s not all bad news
In the digital age, new technologies are inevitable to make data collection effortless while protecting the privacy of users online. The first thing to note is that the first and second party cookies will not go away. This means marketers simply need to rethink how they access and use this data.
A first-party cookie is a unique code that is stored on the computer or mobile device of a website visitor. The most basic purpose is to store the user’s login information. You can also use this type of cookie to monitor user experience and how they interact on your website. This differs from third-party cookies in that you can only access information based on the activity taking place on your website and affiliate domains.
Third-party cookies provide tracking capabilities beyond that of your website. This gives a more holistic view of the online activity of everyone visiting your website. For example, what other websites they visited, online shopping, and other online interests.
First-party cookies are automatically accepted when someone visits your website, however, if you use third-party cookies, users should be given the option to accept or decline the functionality.
You can still track website visitors
Third-party cookies are the only cookies that are disabled. First and second party cookies are always very available and will provide access to basic information such as user information, demographics and location. For more information, you will need to get creative with the strategy for connecting with your customers.
A future without cookies: you can bypass it
One of the first ways to navigate a world without third-party cookies is to use the Google Privacy Sandbox.
Much like a children’s sandbox, this is a space where marketers can come together to share and access anonymous user data. This means that targeted advertisements can still reach the relevant audience without violating user privacy.
Of course, nothing beats good old-fashioned consumer engagement – and marketers will need to find ways to encourage users to engage with the brand. One of the most powerful ways to do this is by playing on the emotions of their audience to elicit some sort of reaction or response. This should be done with caution as the results may not always be what you expect from them.
Beyond that, you need to be more attentive to the content you are broadcasting. Conceptual marketing campaigns that have research to support the effort will reap impressive benefits and should be considered.
If you want to contact customers directly – or even try to use third-party cookies – you should give users the freedom to subscribe or unsubscribe. In doing so, you give them the choice to engage with your brand while respecting their privacy.
It’s about rethinking your approach
The end of cookies is not the end of marketing or access to user data. It’s simply an opportunity to rethink outdated marketing practices in a way that respects the end user while providing your business with relevant data.