First-Party Hearty: Brands Race To Get Ready For Loss Of Cookies

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated digital development by an average 6.5 years for B2C brands. For 17%, it has jumped by 10 to 14 years, according to the State of Customer Engagement Report, a study released Thursday by Twilio.

And those that invested in digital are enjoying 70% revenue growth, with 7% seeing it triple. 

But only a minority of companies have moved to exclusive use of first-party data, even while third-party cookies are soon to be cut off. And consumers and brands disagree to a great extent on the quality of the customer experience being provided.  

Of the firms polled, 81% rely on third-party cookies. Yet 96% are at least somewhat prepared for the cookieless future, with 45% saying they are fully prepared.

For now, companies list these data sources:  

  • All third-party data — 12% 
  • Mostly third-party data — 23%
  • Even mix of third-party data and first-party customer data — 46% 
  • Mostly first-party customer data — 13% 
  • All first-party customer data — 6%  



What do they expect in the cookieless world? Brands anticipate the following: 

  • Lower return on ROI in ad spend — 42% 
  • Decreased ability to measure campaign efficiency — 42%
  • Decreased ability to acquire new customers — 37% 
  • None of the above — 15%

One thing is clear: third-party cookies are set to disappear. Firefox and Safari already block them, and Google Chrome will do so by the end of 2023, the study states.

Meanwhile, brands and consumers disagree on a number of topics related to the customer experience. 

Overall, 88% of companies consider personalization very or extremely important to their engagement strategy. But while 75% of firms believe they are delivering a good to excellent personalized experience, only 48% of consumers agree.  

Drilling down, 17% of brands think they are providing an excellent experience, while a mere 7% of consumers think so. 

In addition, 34% of companies believe that experiences are always personalized. But a mere 11% of consumers concur with that -- on the contrary, 37% of consumers think experiences are only sometimes personalized, with 14% of brands saying they agree.  

The stakes are high — 61% of consumers will stop using a brand if the experience is not personalized. Assuming that they understand the terms, 85% of consumers believe first-party data is used primarily for personalization, and 87% feel the same way. 

But consumers and brands also differ on execution. For example, 95% believe they protect data privacy, with 65% saying they agree. And while 95% of brands say they honor communications preferences, 76% of consumers agree that this is being done. 

Similarly, while 95% of brands believe they offer transparency of customer data usage, 62% consumers agree.  

One threat to brand ROI is digital fatigue. Younger generations are more prone to it, with these percentages saying they have suffered from it in the past 30 days:

  • Gen Z — 47% 
  • Millennial — 42%
  • Gen X — 30% 
  • Baby Boomer — 21%
  • Global — 36% 

“Personalization is actually getting harder to deliver, with high customer expectations, changing technologies, and the diminishing value of third-party cookies,” concludes Glenn Weinstein, chief customer officer at Twilio. 

Weinstein adds that Twilio has seen “five fundamentals to overcoming these challenges: embrace digital, personalize every interaction, shift to first-party data, close the trust gap, and avoid engagement fatigue by increasing the quality of your interactions.”

Lawless Research conducted two surveys for Twilio in December 2021 and January 2022. These included a survey of 3,450 B2C business leaders and 4,500 consumers.  

Both surveys covered Australia, Brazil, Colombia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Singapore, Spain, United Kingdom and United States, with two hundred to 1,000 responses from each country.



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