Last year Google announced they will stop the use of third-party cookies in Chrome before 2022, joining an increasing list of browsers ditching the notorious tracking technology. The tech giant followed up with an early March 2021 announcement that they do not plan to leverage alternative user level identifiers in their proprietary advertising technology platforms or across the web as the use of cookies is phased out.

However, the demise of third-party cookies does not mean the end of tracking consumers’ habits. Thus, more consumer advocates are asking for true end-user consent to collect and utilize personal data after third-party cookies, as newer technologies arise leading to the potential for similar data security and privacy concerns.

Brands that have a large ecommerce presence or have customer engagement initiatives that rely on data collected via third party sources to power their efforts will continue to face new challenges on that front as more legislation and more restrictive regulations come about to ensure consumer privacy online. But our partners see a silver lining to these recent developments that could be a win for both consumers and brand marketers.

Lack of Cookies Should Not Be An Issue
Richard Jones, Chief Marketing Officer at Cheetah Digital, firmly believes in the idea of ‘no cookie, no problem.’
“Google killed the cookie, and recently condemned the email as an identifier for tracking, but they made it clear brands with the rights to their own customer data will have an advertising solution. Because of this I predict that upwards of 40% of CMOs will adopt a zero-party data strategy in 2021,” he says. “Zero-party data is data that is willingly and transparently given by the consumer about their motivations, desires, interests, and preferences in return for a value in exchange.”

Jones says this data allows marketers to personalize content, advertising and offers in a way that is consented to by the consumer.

“When combined with next-generation personalization technology such as ML and AI, this data becomes the most powerful tool a marketer can have,” he says.

Randy Braatz, Global Director of Information Security at PDI, says brands should not panic, that third-party cookie tracking is going away, but not first-party cookie tracking.

“Other browsers such as Firefox and Safari implanted these changes years ago with little negative impact,” Braatz says. “Understand your marketing data ecosystem to determine what additional data points can be leveraged.”

Transparency is the Key
Chris Bosco, Vice President and General Manager of Digital at SMG, says one of the keys to the future will be transparency. Customers will be able to make decisions about the use of their data and need to clearly understand the value proposition.

“Those that feel that the benefits are worth their information being used for marketing can opt-in and participate in a more personalized marketplace,” Bosco says. “Let them know how this information is being used and let them decide if the benefits such as preventing generic advertisements — including offers and alerts — from being blasted on their websites are worth providing the additional data.”

For example, Bosco says don’t show advertisements for baby products if the consumer doesn’t have a baby, adding, “If you are going to see ads, then it can be beneficial if they at least align to your interests.”

Jeff Hassman, Product and Marketing Strategy for PDI Marketing Cloud Solutions, says that, in general, good brands are recognizing customer privacy.

“They’re being up-front, clear and honest with customers about what data they are collecting, and how they plan to use it to make the customer’s life easier,” Hassman says. “It’s not just about making the brand more money; there has to be a value exchange. Consumers will allow you to see/have some of their data in return for better services from you.”

No Hidden Information or Agendas
Just like any other value exchange, Hassman says there must be no hidden information or agendas.
“The consumer must actively engage in the transaction,” he says. “And it shouldn’t be done without their knowledge or consent.”

Jones says that for far too long, marketers relied on walled-gardens and third-party data to get the insights they should have been focused on.

“Collecting zero-party data will future-proof brands from impending privacy legislation which is sure to get tighter,” he says.

Braatz encourages brands to leverage emerging technologies that combine loyalty programs, data science, and predictive analytics to track user behavior and combine it with first-party cookie tracking data.

“It’s a better way to more effectively invest marketing dollars and improve the consumer experience,” he says.

Do’s and Don’ts to Tracking Customers
Bosco says there are obvious do’s and don’ts when it comes to tracking customers:

  • Inform customers of the types of cookies being used on the site and the purpose of the cookies. Let customers clearly understand what data you collect from them and why.

  • Create a campaign to hear directly from your customers what they think and want.  Gather feedback on their thoughts to help shape and generate a data management campaign that endears you to them rather than puts you at odds with them.

  • Express the value of your policies and provide incentives for individuals to share information with you.

Bosco’s advice on best practices for brands to assure they are compliant —  and yet still aggressive — is to identify the approach that a brand will leverage for future advertising targeting and begin a proof-of-concept program to test out the various methods this year, including Google Privacy Sandbox.

“Create your own first-party dataset, and allow users to opt-in to tracking systems before the ban, and keep this setting as a profile change customers can make as part of their account system,” Bosco says. “In addition to customer site behavior such as actions and interests, your dataset can also include information such as customer feedback and customer surveys to create a truly complete profile of the customer.”
 
Thank You to Our Expert Panel:

  • Richard Jones is Chief Marketing Officer at Cheetah Digital. Visit cheetahdigital.com

  • Randy Braatz is Global Director of Information Security at PDI. Visit pdisoftware.com

  • Jeff Hassman, Product and Marketing Strategy at PDI Marketing Cloud Solutions. Visit pdisoftware.com

  • Chris Bosco is Vice President and General Manager of Digital at SMG. Visit smg.com

 

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