Cookie Anxiety: Why Brands Are Sweating And What They Can Do About It

The recent Interactive Advertising Bureau conference featured presentations by Dr. Anthony Fauci and Stacey Abrams. But the hot topic for brand marketers was the end of the cookie.

“They were hand-wringing,” laughs Ron Jacobs, CEO of Jacobs & Clevenger, a Chicago-based ad agency. “You could see the beads of sweat on their brows.” 

In contrast, direct-marketing people who know how to use data “couldn’t care less,” Jacobs says. They are able to talk to their customers directly. 

To get perspective on this, and how brands can use zero-party data to compensate, MediaPost spoke with Jacobs, the author of several editions of Successful Direct Marketing Methods, the book series started by the late Bob Stone.



MediaPost: Are people really dreading the end of the cookie?

Ron Jacobs: Only 30% of brand people are ready for this, but 70% of the data people are -- an amazing point of difference.

MP: They’re ready because they have access to first-party data?

Jacobs: First-party data is relevant and accurate because it provides brands with data about their existing prospects and customers, and allows a marketer to create highly personalized experiences. As many as 80% of marketers plan to increase their use of internal first-party data over the 12 months. 

MP: What about the privacy issue? 

Jacobs: I’ve been a direct marketer forever, and I never had a problem renting third-party data for a client, but I have to think about it more. In email or direct mail, you  can use variable data and talk to people in a way that’s not really very spooky based on past purchases.  But it gets a little harder with intent and motivational data.

MP: What’s the difference between zero-party and first-party data? 

Jacobs: I don’t see a great distinction. Forrester says zero-party data is where a consumer is asked to do something like answer a poll or a quiz or give additional data.

This type of data can include demographic information, email addresses, purchase history, website interactions from only the company’s website, ad impressions, and more.

It’s kind of next-step behavior marketing — very big for email, retargeting and direct mail. But it’s just another flavor of first-party data, in my view. 

MP: Is zero-party data a possible privacy issue?

Jacobs: When people have actively given information to a marketer to use, the consent is clear enough — consumers expect it will be used to make ads and personalization contextually better. But consent is important. Look at what Apple is doing: Instead of just having mobile ad IDs tracking you, you have to opt in.

MP: Privacy policies aren’t always very clear...

Jacobs: Companies want people to understand what data they’re giving up and how it may be used. But nobody reads [the policies]. You can go to a four-page software acknowledgement in 7/8s of a second, click on it and not read it. 

MP: Will the email address will be the primary identifier in the post-cookie world?

Jacobs: That’s most likely to be true. But remember, email companies have a lot of terrestrial data. All that other data is also important for identity resolution. When you add preference and behavioral data added to email address... that part of ID resolution is getting short shrift.”

MP: What are the other challenges in using first-party data?  

Jacobs: First-party data is easily applied to email. But the digital display guys aren’t talking to the email and direct mail people — they're on their own islands. People have to collaborate.




3 comments about "Cookie Anxiety: Why Brands Are Sweating And What They Can Do About It".
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  1. Dan Ciccone from STACKED Entertainment, April 15, 2021 at 10 a.m.

    In all of these articles, it always baffles me that nobody talks about getting back to basics. Take the time to identify content that your target customer is consuming and present a message that is appropriate for the content.  That is a tried and true model for 60+ years - the cookie made advertisers lazy - time to roll up your sleeves again!

  2. David Mattson from Not Ordinary Media, April 15, 2021 at 11:40 a.m.

    @Dan Ciccone - couldn't agree more.  

  3. Cory Cox from GPO, April 15, 2021 at 2:02 p.m.

    There are other tactics brands can take too, to generate more awareness, visibility, and top line revenue, that are hyper-efficient.  My question is: when will more brands open their minds to what is possible beyond which they have been led to believe is all there is?  Would 30:1+ returns on spend all day long, ongoing be of interest?  Would generating traffic specific to the query, that converts at 2.5-3x what they normally see be of interest?  That makes for a better consumer experience and brand experience? 

    Why have such consternation about cookies, when there are so many more impactful marketing tactics in the toolbox?  I get the importance of advertising and targeting to efficiently build brand awareness, but driving top line revenue, and gaining visibility and awareness, can be accomplished in other ways.  As the article says, those who understand the power of data, could care less.  Indeed there is a modicum of truth to this. 

    Want to discuss?  Hit me up.  615-280-0269.  Cheers!  :)     -Cory

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