Connecting With Consumers In A Cookieless Future

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, August 10, 2022

Marketers are finding themselves in a prolonged journey to the cookieless future, with Google’s recent announcement that third-party cookie blocking will commence in late 2024.  

Despite the delay, there is no better time to reimagine and redesign the approach to targeting the masses -- moving away from a reliance on third-party cookies to support traditional digital marketing strategies.

Meanwhile, consumer demand for online data privacy continues to increase.

This raises a crucial question: How can marketers navigate their changing world while engaging with consumers in a meaningful way that serves consumers and meets shifting expectations? 

One potential answer is to develop a holistic and identity-based ecosystem that serves both marketers and consumers alike. 

Using Health Marketing as a Blueprint for Change

As limitations in data access and usage increase, marketers can no longer rely on acquiring more first-party data to meet their objectives.

Marketers can look to the example of health marketing to see how to evolve digital marketing efforts as the health-care industry has long faced stringent privacy guidelines and limited access to consumer (i.e., patient) data, leading to the development and use of alternative marketing approaches.

In order to face inherent industry challenges, health marketers must begin with a clear understanding of their patient base, which informs their understanding of who the best patients are. This may involve buying a dataset that provides insight into every single patient who is on a specific treatment — which then allows for modeling off the entire patient population, rather than a sample. 

Once health marketers harness their entire patient population, they can use content engagement as an indicator of consumer interest.

If health marketers know someone is researching the side effects of a treatment or an efficacy comparison of multiple treatments, that’s a very strong indicator of said consumer as an in-play patient. 

From there, success depends on the ability to build the right use cases for first-party and patient data, which can be done using predictive analytics to go beyond factors like age, gender, and lifestyle. Enabling marketers to leverage audience-based targeted media and connect with in-play patients to build meaningful relationships that are consumer-focused represents a new solution for marketers across industries that once relied on third-party data to reach their consumer base. 

Building an Identity-Based Ecosystem

The next challenge for marketers is to develop the ability to connect contextual engagements to identity in real-time and improve targeting of in-play audiences based on previous engagement. Developing and delivering the next best message to consumers further builds the relationship by delivering the information they need at the specific moment they need it. 

To draw these connections, marketers must identify solutions that can perform key tasks, following these key points:
1. The solution must have the ability to ingest data from multiple sources — and then unify that data around a single customer in an identity-based way.
2. The solution must enable marketers to measure and make decisions off the data by using pathways such as machine learning and artificial intelligence to learn more about      and thus improve segmentation and predictive modeling. 
3. Marketers must be able to activate against that decision-making.

In order to succeed with this new approach, marketers must start with a data source and build complexity over time to build a holistic identity-based ecosystem. 

Reconsidering Marketing Strategy and Execution

Marketers still face many unknowns, especially as identity solutions continue to come to market and with the limited understanding of identity-graph interoperability and the steps required to develop an identity-based marketing solution.

As we approach the new era of a cookieless future, marketers should begin by asking themselves a vital question: What is their end goal? From there, they can work backwards and self-audit to arrive at a comprehensive understanding of their needs.

Many brands want the capability of dynamic messaging that can involve hundreds of variations of messaging. This approach may be needed — but first, they should consider the actual benefit of having so many variations in approach. 

This new process also involves talent acquisition to limit inefficiencies and consideration of the impact of new workflows in achieving their new goal.

By conducting an honest evaluation of process and talent, marketers can establish measured steps and a roadmap to reach desired goals of digital maturity.  

Adopting a one-size-fits-all mindset will not lead to success in a post-cookie world.

Instead, marketers, brands, and media agencies must dig deeper to develop bespoke solutions that can help them connect with audiences in smarter, more meaningful ways. 

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