Third-party cookies are like Cretaceous dinosaurs. They eat away at consumer data as asteroids launched by Google, Mozilla, Apple and others are on the verge of wiping out the current marketing ecosystem.
Google is preparing phase out these online tracking tools by 2022. For its part, Apple plans to make its mobile device identifier – known as the Identifier for Advertisers, or IDFA – opt-in only: a measure that will prevent cross-application tracking of site visitors. Their plans are just two examples of a much broader pivot to consumer privacy that has also manifested itself in expansive privacy laws such as those in the European Union. General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act.
For better or worse, the internet has evolved to run on consumer data: the data that “third parties”, such as advertisers and marketers, collect so that retailers and other businesses can track visitors to the market. website, improve their customer experience, target ads, and determine what visitors see on other websites as they move from site to site. Now that tech giants have banned these trackers outright or are planning to ban them from their web browsers, how many companies are ready for a “no kitchen” future?
Prepare the cookie-pocalypse
The answer, unfortunately, is not much. A recent Adobe survey found that only 37% of companies are “very prepared” for a world without third-party cookies. Many companies take a wait-and-see approach, an attitude that typically results in “last-minute and short-term fixes and workarounds,” according to Amit Ahuja, vice president of product and experience cloud strategy at Adobe.
But the impending elimination of third-party cookies should not cause panic. On the contrary, a future without trackers offers an opportunity for companies learning to manage change, keeping experiences at the personalized level that customers expect, even without the use of third-party data. Now is the time to strike, Ahuja said: “The fact that 63% of organizations are unprepared for a world without a kitchen indicates a tremendous opportunity to move now to first party data strategies to create long-term differentiation. . “
You repeat, you lose. But before you dive into the awakening strategy, you may very well ask yourself, why should I care?
Consumers rightly demand transparency about how their data is collected and processed. Who can blame them? In recent years, organizations have suffered from massive data leaks that have led to billions of emails and broken passwords. This suffering is not without consequence. Consumers are harming businesses when they dig into data in this way. According to Gartner Brand Survey 2019, 81% of customers refuse to patronize a business they don’t trust, and 89% expect to disengage from a business that breaks their trust. “Consumers must have ultimate control over their data and how it is used by brands. This is essential for gaining the trust of consumers, ”says Ahuja.
But consumers still expect a high degree of personalization: personalization that was previously enabled by data from third-party cookies. “As consumers, we all expect a lot of personalization when we engage with brands,” says Ahuja. “Especially with everyone having shifted a lot of their interactions to digital over the past year, it’s now higher than ever.” Without third-party data, the customer experience will suffer, as will businesses.
That’s why they need to care and prepare, says Ahuja. The loss of third-party cookies will have an effect on the ability of businesses to find new customers for their products or services, as well as to retain and maximize the value of their existing customers.
A future not entirely without a kitchen
What can you do about it? First, keep in mind that the traditional use cases for third-party cookies (for example, using data to personalize the customer experience) will not go away. On the contrary, they will evolve. Businesses Must Maximize Value part one data: data collected from their own domains about customers. First-party data does not disappear: it is only third-party cookies that are gradually deleted, such as those that do not belong to the main domain opened on users’ browsers but are instead loaded by third-party servers, such as as ad servers, on publishers’ websites. “Brands now need to focus on first-party data strategies to effectively personalize experiences across the customer journey,” says Ahuja.
Businesses will continue to collect data and share or buy it from trusted partners. They need to ensure that consumer consent is respected and that the data is actionable – that is, businesses can act on the data, in real time and at scale to deliver personalized experiences. And they must continue to find new customers and maximize the value of existing customers. To do this, here is a mantra to keep in mind: real time or bust.
Relevant personalization must happen instantly, says Ahuja. There can’t be a day’s delay between when customers buy something and when they stop seeing ads. They should also start receiving emails right away, not days after. “We see this as a requirement for a future-proof data strategy: having a system capable of updating customer profiles in real time, as new actions are taken across all channels or when they have chosen not to participate or engage in different engagements, then able to activate those profiles with governance applied instantly for endpoint personalization, ”says Ahuja.
Opting out of third-party cookies does not have to be a cookie-pocalypse. Rather, it can be a catalyst: a catalyst that gives companies the opportunity to step back and understand everything, to wonder how they are going to improve their customer experiences. To make things even more interesting, businesses will need to manage data while ensuring consumer privacy and complying with regional restrictions.
The asteroids are on their way. Now is the time to catalyze.
This content was produced by Insights, the personalized content arm of MIT Technology Review. It was not written by the editorial staff of MIT Technology Review.