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Google Going Cookieless: Here’s What That Means for Marketers

Posted by Emily Hegland on April 1, 2021

The end of third-party cookies is on the horizon...  

Mozilla Firefox and Safari already block third-party cookies. And Google announced that it will block cookies through the Chrome browser by the end of this year. What does this mean for digital marketers?  

First, let's look at how third-party cookies work.  

Cookies are tiny pieces of code. They remember the actions of users as they browse the web. They might contain information about what websites you’ve visited, what you put in your cart — even your demographic information, like your age and location. Cookies can even gather information about psychographic information, like your hobbies, preferences and interests. 

Digital advertisers use third-party cookie data to target advertisements to each user’s browser. It’s why you’ll see banner ads or social media ads for similar items you’ve been looking at online — even across devices. But as privacy concerns increase, people are more wary of how their information is stored online.  

Moving forward, digital marketers will have to shift their focus to first-party data.  

According to David Temkin, Google's director of product management for ads privacy and trust, “We will continue to support first-party relationships on our ad platforms for partners, in which they have direct connections with their own customers. And we'll deepen our support for solutions that build on these direct relationships between consumers and the brands and publishers they engage with. 

That means marketers will need to foster connections and deepen their relationships with customers in order to build rich first-party data. Stop thinking short-term, quick-hitting ads and start focusing on long-term customer relationships. First-party data is more privacy-friendly than third-party data. And ultimately, first-party data can have a much bigger impact on advertising campaigns.  

Now let’s see how to capitalize on first-party data.

As a brand, you may have access to more first-party data than you think. If you have first-party data, that means a customer has already shown interest in your brand. They’ll probably be more receptive to hearing from you.  

Give customers a good reason to volunteer their information. Encourage customers to offer up an email address by promoting a discount or offer. Or lead them through a short, fun quiz about their preferences before they enter your site... and prompt them to give their information to see the results. People are willing to share their information if there’s something in it for them. And better yet, they’ll expect to see your brand engage with them... instead of feeling like they are being watched and tracked in a “creepy” way.  

When it comes to collecting data, start small and build. The more a customer interacts with your newsletters, explores your website, or makes purchases, the more customized their experience can become. In fact, people like a customized, personalized experience... they just don’t like to feel as if their privacy has been violated. That’s why you need to focus on relationship-building, customer experience and sustained engagement. 

Consider contextual advertising 

Contextual advertising displays ads that are related to what’s already on your screen. In the real world, you might see liquor ads in a bar... clothing ads in a mall... or auto insurance ads along the highway. Quite simply, you’re meeting your customers where they’re at. People browsing the web see content that’s based on what they’re currently looking at, rather than their historical behavior online. So you might see an ad for binoculars while you’re reading through a bird-watching blog. Google AdSense can match web page content to specific keywords that advertisers target. 

This makes it important to create relevant content. People tend to dislike ads... so content can be more palatable to customers than blatant advertising. And ads associated with that content seem more natural (and less creepy) than ads based on previous behavior. Keep people informed, entertained and give them relevant offers along the way.  

J&C is made up of experts in the art and science of customer engagement. If you need help developing a powerful digital campaign using first-party data, contact J&C today. 

Topics: Digital Marketing, Data Marketing, Relationship Marketing

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