Monthly Marketing Moment: The Post-Cookie World

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f 2020’s word of the year was “pivot” (regardless of what Merriam-Webster says), we must once again revise our marketing strategies for 2021. Because of the pandemic and other external factors like the phasing out of cookies, companies are spending more and more time on owned content. With the enormous volume of content hitting consumers, how can brands make themselves stand out?  

How can they continue to attract new consumers and retain current ones without adding to the noise? What are the new best practices going forward? Most marketers know by now that retargeting will change drastically, and third-party cookies will no longer function as we once expected. 

Wait, Cookies?

(digital) cookie is a data file that web browsers save to a user’s computer to fetch images, track site preferences, monitor login status, see site activity and improve ads. Cookies can be first-party, i.e., originating on the site a user is currently visiting, or third-party, where the cookie is generated from another site. Third-party cookies are typically generated by pixels, which are bits of code embedded on websites that create digital crumbs to track users’ browsing behaviors.  

Third-party cookies are one of the main issues in the broad debate on data privacy and protections for users’ Personally Identifiable Information (PII). Privacy laws like the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) require websites to provide a chance for users to explicitly opt-in (active consent) to the various levels of use for their PII. In the U.S., users must explicitly opt-out (passive consent). 

Google, currently earning roughly 70% of search traffic, announced earlier in 2020 that it would phase out third-party cookies completely by 2022. Digital marketers will have to fundamentally reconsider how they approach future audience building, customer targeting, ad frequency management and ad optimization. 

Strategic Marketing Without Cookies

Marketing professionals will once again need to rely on their expertise in combining creativity with logic to adapt to a cookie-less future. 2021’s goal is to get people to hand over their PII, create user profiles on all the sites they visit and remain logged into those profiles.  

However, this does not change the core strategy of good marketing and communications: Showcase your value propositionand by extension, the value of your online contentwith a unified brand voice, appealing narratives and stunning visuals. 

Cookie-less Marketing Tactics

You won’t need to change your marketing strategy, but you will need to adjust your digital tacticsConsider a few of these solutions: 

  • Invest in robust CRM databases and first-party cookies 
  • Learn about probabilistic identification, psychographics and behavioral modeling
  • Explore identity solutions
  • Investigate creating or buying data clean rooms
  • Prepare for contextual targeting, AI, and machine learning 

2021 will surely bring further changes, prompting tech giants and small businesses alike to reconsider how they will continue to gain value for their digital ad dollars. For instance, Facebook recently acquired CRM provider Kustomer, a platform that manages high volumes of aggregated digital crumbs to create comprehensive customer profiles. Facebook’s existing access to billions of users’ PII combined with Kustomer’s automation and customer service functions will be a boon to advertisers. Even without cookies, Facebook is poised to offer advertisers targeted audiences, though less granular and customizable than available in the past. As the program develops, Facebook will be able to offer businesses its own all-inclusive, in-app CRM and vast “walled garden” of user profiles. 

That’s an extreme example of responding to the cookie-less marketing future. For small businesses, adaptation could be as simple as paying for a MailChimp account and building a small list of subscribers who actively engage with your business. 

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January Marketing Moment_digital cookies_digital marketing

Marketing professionals will once again need to rely on their expertise in combining creativity with logic to adapt to a cookie-less future. 2021’s goal is to get people to hand over their PII, create user profiles on all the sites they visit and remain logged into those profiles.