Don’t Be Caught Unprepared When 3rd Party Cookies Go Away
The marketing world is facing a disruption with the coming demise of 3rd party cookies. However, this sea change in how marketers collect data and deliver digital experiences could bring opportunity for savvy people who are ready to pivot and engage buyers with more relevance.
What’s Up with 3rd Party Cookies?
Just in case you’re unfamiliar, Google announced that 3rd party cookies will be phased out of its Chrome browser by 2023. Since Microsoft Edge is based on Google’s Chromium technology, this will affect Edge users, too. Plus, Apple’s Safari browser and in Mozilla Firefox already block them, so 3rd party cookies are truly on their way out.
What is a Cookie Anyway?
Cookies have been around for so long that it’s easy to take them for granted and not really think about what they are or what function they serve. At it’s most basic, a cookie is a packet of information about web users that allows a website to remember who you are and what you like.
Cookies can be temporary – collecting information only for one session – or permanent. They allow you to do things like save logins, preferences, or items in a shopping cart on a website.
The “Cookieless World” Isn’t Really Cookieless
To understand the future without 3rd party cookies, it’s also important to understand that they’re not the only cookie in the jar.
There are two types of cookies:
- 1st Party Cookies – the ones created by websites you visit. These are the ones that save your information for that particular website, like your password, etc.
- 3rd Party Cookies – the ones created by external websites. For example, if you’re reading an article on a media website, and there’s an ad for a product, the company selling the product may use a cookie to collect information about you even though you’re on someone else’s site.
With 3rd party cookies, marketers and advertisers can track buyers around the web to see what else they click on or like. They provide the individual identifiers to understand how target accounts behave online, and to personalize content and advertising for them.
This kind of data is the foundation for modern digital marketing strategies and tactics – especially account-based marketing – that allow marketers to provide more meaningful experiences and engagement for buyers. Without 3rd party cookies, marketers will need new strategies for identifying and reaching buyers.
Downsides of 3rd Party Cookies
Right now, although 3rd party cookies are everywhere, how marketers use them isn’t as efficient as it could be. There are potentially hundreds (or more) cookies collecting data on you and your preferences as you browse the web and interact with content.
When you leave one website to go to another, a different cookie has different data on you. Your data isn’t carried from one site to the other, and you have to check off preferences all over again.
Because the cookies and the data they collect is so fragmented, that data has to be aggregated and mapped. It isn’t a consistent way to get a comprehensive view of your customer or identify people – and modern marketing is all about people.
1st Party Cookies May Become King
The consensus in the digital marketing world at this point seems to be that 1st party cookies will be the way to gather information and personalize experiences, at least in the near future. However, the key to successful marketing with 1st party data will involve the ability to unmask and de-anonymize your web users.
A good de-anonymization solution for B2B marketing should, at a minimum, offer you enough information about your visitor so that you can engage with them in a meaningful way. Some basics include their company information and job title so you can know who they are.
One way to gather 1st party data is by leading with valuable gated content. With the right solution or platform driven by AI or machine learning, you can take your 1st party data and match it to other types of data, as well as enrich your data with buyer insights. For example, you could link your individual users to firmographic and intent data to determine which of your users are decision-makers and when they’re in-market to buy.
Where Opportunities Lie
What marketers really need is a persistent, secure identifier to gain a single view of their buyers – one that pulls from all of the different touchpoints a person may have and allows marketers to engage with relevance.
Some things this new solution should account for:
- People are Power – Modern B2B marketing is about engaging with people, not companies. People are the ones who research purchases and make decisions, so the key to a successful marketing strategy is to personalize engagement and connect with those decision-makers. That means having consolidated data and a single view of the buyer.
- Privacy is Paramount – Increasing privacy concerns are part of what’s driving the decision by Google and others to ban 3rd party cookies. People don’t want data collected or shared without their knowledge and are more and more suspicious of how companies store data. Rampant data breaches reported in the media have fostered distrust, and trust needs to be restored through privacy protections.
- Consent is Cool – Another way to build trust with buyers is to allow them to opt-in for data collection. This gives your users a feeling of power over their own information and may make them more willing to engage with your brand.
- Go Omnichannel – Sophisticated marketers aren’t only engaging with their buyers in one place. They’re planning for multiple touchpoints across their buyer’s journey and thinking about how to accelerate them from awareness through to purchase. Marketers will need a data collection strategy that supports always-on, omnichannel campaigns.
Above all, the solution that carries marketers forward after this year needs to be adaptable and sustainable so there isn’t another seismic shift in how digital marketers work in another few years. By putting the needs and problems of users first, we can achieve that sustainability.
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