The following was previously published in an earlier edition of Marketing Insider.
The “cookieless future” has been much-discussed during the last few years, with plenty of opinions coming from marketers (like myself). However, the vast majority are not prepared to take action.
It can be easy to fall into the trap of feeling that there’s plenty of time, especially with the just-made announcement that Google’s new target date for blocking third-party cookies has been delayed until 2024.
Sure, there’s always the possibility Google could delay once again, but the reality is inevitable. There will be a day when cookie-based targeting and tracking will be gone. Inaction today will result in failure in the future.
Here are three key ways marketers can set themselves and their brands up for success with the upcoming changes:
Celebrate the safety net while still exploring uncharted territory. The great news is that we are not losing all cookie-based marketing in the immediate future. To begin evaluating cookieless solutions, you don’t have to abandon what has already been working (at least not yet).
Instead, take a test-and-learn approach, allocating a portion of your marketing budget to cookieless tactics you might have not previously tried, such as contextual placements, custom content, and connected TV. This creates a safe environment to begin building new technology and publisher relationships that can inform future marketing strategies.
Benchmark now to define success. Marketers are familiar with the challenges of shifting success metrics with the iOS privacy changes – when attribution windows shrunk, last clicks became less powerful, and front end, lower-funnel KPIs took a nosedive.
Some brands began to lose faith that marketing impacted their business, or felt campaigns were not being optimized properly, because trackable conversions had diminished.
However, smart marketers know to look beyond the front-end data and search for correlations with business performance to determine directional success.
The same process will be needed in the cookieless future, but on a compounded scale. Compare performance of cookie-based tactics vs. cookieless tactics, then analyze backend data to determine the effect on business results. This will not only help level set expectations for media metrics, but will also help narrow in on media’s leading indicators of success.
Create a value exchange for first-party data. It’s more important now than ever to be customer-obsessed. Why? Consumers are becoming increasingly privacy-focused while their data is becoming more and more valuable to brands.
The only way brands can continue to build trust is to home in one what their audience values. Then you can offer them a mutual benefit in exchange for their data.
Take time to understand what generates affinity, whether it be discounts, personalized offers and gifts, early access to deals, etc. If you don’t have the mechanisms in place to acquire first-party data, begin building relationships with publishers, retail media networks, and tech companies with ID-based solutions to ensure access to more addressable targeting segments.