A cookieless future is still in the future? Will you be ready when third-party advertisers can’t target and track as well? Can you change your perspectives of how we handle our customer data and privacy?
While we’ve all been busy the last year something has slipped under the radar. At least I think it has for a lot of people, maybe not for you. We’ve all been busy adjusting to engaging with customers and staff remotely, digitizing touchpoints and pivoting offerings. So, we can give ourselves a break if we didn’t notice trends in technology vendors making big changes to increase user privacy. We may have been focused elsewhere.
Google announced in January 2020, that they will remove third-party cookie support by 2022. (2022 doesn’t sound so far away anymore.) In the release of IOS14 last fall, Apple started on a path where tracking of behavior in apps is something app vendors need to make optional. Optional initially for app builders, but it will be mandatory in the future. Facebook has been very publicly speaking out against.
You could say this is just a point on a trend of increased transparency in using user data that has been happening for a long time. A big part of this trend being that people (yes, users are people), want to have some control over what gets tracked about them. As well as what is shared and where. It’s been a big driver of changes in privacy legislation in the EU, California and Canada. What’s interesting to see that trend moving in to Big Tech, not just in government regulations.
It’s sometimes difficult to see how this trend impacts us as marketers. Right here right now are we bothered by a cookieless future. When it’s in the in the future or outside our target markets, it can seem like something we can bury our head in the sand about. At least for today.
I believe that if we embrace clean data practices and a healthy respect for privacy, we will find ways to adjust and respond when the changes eventually impact our work.
The third-party part of it all
The biggest impacts of a cookieless future and opting out of being tracked will be on advertising. Advertising targeting and remarketing.
Which is why Faceback is railing against Apple. If you do any advertising on Facebook, you likely received their announcements that future ad campaigns may not perform as they did in the past. So you are considering how it all impacts you today. You should also do a check of your Facebook pixel. It may have broken if you track too many events or use a third-party domain to host funnel pages. But that’s an aside.
The third-party part of it all is when we have other people do the tracking and targeting for us. Or it seems that we do. (Which is a big part of what we do pay them to do for us.)
What this trend may really do is make us a little less reliant on these third parties. And a little more responsible for enabling ways for people to opt out of our marketing. Which might not be a bad thing.
In the EU they have found that with increased privacy laws, lead quality can improve, even if lead quantity can go down.
The first-party part of it all.
In some ways it illuminates the need for us to smarter ways to do the tracking and targeting ourselves. As the first party.
It also increases the need to retain customers and providing them continuous value. Making the old adage that it’s easier to retain a customer than acquire a customer, even truer. What is key is building out a robust customer database, with a schema that is really tailored to what we need. Whether that is in a CRM system or in our marketing automation products.
Often it can be a time vs cost dilemma. High ticket marketing automation products are building in features that will help you recognize customers across channels, so you can respond to them uniquely. (Adobe Customer Data Platform is one.) Or you may need to take the time to design a robust system of segmenting and tags, so that you can better tailor campaigns and funnels.
Most of the digital advertisers allow for a feature that you provide the remarketing list, rather than rely on them to decide who should be targeted again. We may have to use our first-party data in more creative ways. Advertises, are likely to innovate alternative features in their quest to retain our advertising spend.
The point is we have to get smarter about what we store about a customer and how we use it.
Changing our focus to behaviour
Another change that may be coming is to focus more on how an ideal customer may behave rather than on the demographics. To better understand the motivations and emotions behind this behavior.
It’s a shift in how we look at a customer. Away from who they are to what they do. It requires us to really give more depth to building our customer avatar. So we understand more the context in which they buy or do an action we want them to do. Customer data becomes less individual and private and more about segmentation.
In some ways, grocery stores have been doing this for years when they put sweets and magazines at the checkout counter. They know that they catch the eye of the bored person standing in the checkout.
A digital example may be to present a different upsell on a confirmation page, based on how long the use lingered on the landing page. We may give more thought to our funnels. And build up a profile based on general user behaviour rather than individual user demographics.
These things can be done cookieless.
My purpose here today was not to provide the ultimate answers. After all the cookieless future is still a future. And a lot can happen and change in the mean time.
Rather it is to make us aware that things are changing. And that it may require us to change our perspective. To make some shifts in how important we consider privacy to be. How much we rely on our vendors to just deal with it. How we can better manage our customer data.
So that when that future does come, we will be better prepared for it.