Arrow_Puzzle Pieces_March 2021 blogReady or not, how building products and manufacturing marketers target audiences and collect digital campaign analytics is changing more in the coming year than it has in the last twenty years. The gist of these changes revolves around the end of 3rd-party cookie tracking technology as we know it, which has been a staple for the industry since the 1990’s. 

Today, our agency is researching these changes to learn what they mean to our clients and what solutions will lead to success for future audience metrics. Below, we offer three actionable steps for you to take now to prepare for the cookieless future, but first let’s dig into the “what and who.”

First, what’s happening? 
Driven by new laws and public outcries for more privacy options, marketers will find that platforms are moving towards a privacy-focused user experience. For example, Apple has made changes already by removing cookies from Safari and is still finalizing larger tracking initiatives they’ll make this year. Google’s Chrome browser is on pace to block 3rd-party cookies completely in January 2022. What does this mean to you as a marketer?

  • Lookalike audiences based on third-party details will end.  
  • Retargeting/remarketing through different steps of the user journey will no longer be available.

How will the platforms initiate the changes?
It’s going to be different for each platform and the majority of them have yet to announce complete details. However, the main component across the platforms is that they will make individual opt-out options stronger and limit cross-site tracking of a consumers’ online activity. 

Some will strengthen opt-in tech and others will block data from leaving the user’s device. The effects this will have on you as a marketer include:

  • Inability to track user journey and behavior. 
  • More difficult to find/target quality audiences. 
  • Less (but more impactful) data available, because the data will be a result of explicit consent of data exchanged between the user and the platform. It’s estimated that 70 percent of users will opt out when Apple applies explicit consent to their platform.*  

A cookieless future is a given and there’s no time to waste. It’s time to develop solutions that in the end still deliver results that can be tracked, reviewed and are actionable to the success of your brand. 

Take these 3 actionable steps to begin preparing NOW
While many rules from the biggest platforms are still in flux, we’re working diligently to look into the fuzzy crystal ball of what will happen between now and 2022. Bottom line is that we’ll be ready to respond even before a platform announces and implements their cookieless initiatives. 

Our clients count on us to expertly guide them through these channels and to provide them with solid analytics that drive the brand’s KPIs and are trackable. While we do our part, here’s what you can do to develop an action plan for your brand:

  • How are you using 3rd-party data now?
    Many of your campaigns likely include the tracking of the user’s journey. These cookies currently generate effective retargeting/remarketing tactics. With this ending, you’ll need to be able to have an answer to what KPIs your company will establish without missing a beat. What do you use to report the success and opportunities to leadership after a campaign? You’ll want to do your homework now.
  • What plans will you have in place to test alternative KPIs sooner rather than later
    You have the 3rd-party data your company already uses so it’s time to look at finding comparable metrics that will work for your brand. As the industry grapples with the future, you’ll have the foundation in front of you to be successful. You’ll have a side-by-side comparison of what works and what doesn’t while cookies are still an accepted tracking device. Develop your strategy and KPIs for how your team will act and report on consumer information, driving your brand awareness and sales. 
  • Who on your team is the champion for analytics and KPI strategy?
    Let’s face it, the time involved in keeping up with the daily changes in tracking 3rd-party cookies and other data is only increasing and articles on the topic are often written in heavy tech and legalese-speak. Determine who on your team has the technical acumen, an ability to pull information together and can create strategy that keeps your analytics on point. Be sure to make this a part of their role as he or she needs the time and responsibility to dive into the latest and can effectively research what’s coming ahead; without the pressure of it being a secondary assignment. 

Prepare as if your marketing function is dependent on tracking and KPIs
Because it is. Legally and morally, we’ll be called upon to follow these rules. The experts are strongly recommending that advertisers don’t work to find loopholes or alternatives to cookies. With the steps taken above and the partnership with an agency such as Point To Point, you can find new strategies that are CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) and GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) compliant. 

There are good solutions
We’re working with our clients on the changes, issues and solutions. For example, we’re working with clients to rely less on 3rd-party data and focus instead on building 1st-party data where the information collected is owned by the brand and tends to be more on target to campaigns. Along with contextual targeting, we’re finding that the data can go hand-in-hand with what we’ve traditionally collected through cookies.  

Large media platforms are also working on solutions that they can bring to the advertising community. Google is looking at a technology it calls FLoC, where they use Chrome to analyze users’ browsing histories and place them in groups with similar browsing habits. Google is reporting that with FLoC, advertisers can expect to see at least 95 percent of the conversions per dollar spent that they would see when compared to cookie-based advertising. This claim is still open for interpretation so it’s important to keep an open mind on solutions, for which many will follow. 

Additional information and a consultation
The fast-changing technology and new laws make it nearly impossible nowadays for an advertiser to approach analytics alone. Find a reliable agency or third-party vendor with expertise to help you develop the necessary tactics to be successful using a new set of data collection techniques.

I invite you to contact me so I can hear about your company’s barriers to a cookieless future and see if we can offer some advice, such as the role of programmatic media buys to target the audience. I look forward to hearing from you. 

*Kholod Y., 2020, How IFDA opt-in will change the way we advertise in apps, ClickZ  

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