The ending of third party cookies by Apple, Google and others should come as no surprise to anyone. The writing has been on the walls for years. As far back as even 2013, when both Safari and Firefox started blocking them over privacy concerns of users. Then there was GDPR in 2018, and CCPA in the beginning of 2020. With each and every movement towards user privacy, the converse is also true: Platforms where ad dollars are spent are trying to control the information that marketers need to create actionable insight and confidence with regard to marketing spend.
So, as an innovative marketer looking to be as tactical, efficient and effective with every dollar spent in your brand’s ecosystem, how can you prepare for the inevitable sunset of 3rd party cookies by using some of the channels you already have access to? First let’s define what cookies are, how they’re collected, how they’re used and what’s the difference between a first and third party cookie.
What is a cookie?
Cookies are little bits of code that are added to a website visitor’s browser when they’re visiting different websites. Advertisers will use this cookie to collect information about site visitors that can help them deliver more relevant information or experiences for that specific visitor.
What kind of data is collected from cookies?
Cookies capture things like previous website engagements, login information, geographical location, what’s in an eCommerce shopping cart, past websites visited and more. This information gives marketers an idea of what kinds of messaging or content to serve to individuals and when.
How cookies are used?
There’s a multitude of ways in which cookies can be used, from understanding a site visitor’s preferences in terms of the content they like to see to serving branded messaging to someone who might be looking for products and services they’re offering.
What’s the difference between a 1st and 3rd party cookie?
Simply put, the 3rd party cookie (the one that’s going away) is created by something other than the website you’re visiting. So perhaps you ‘liked’ something on a website at some point, and a cookie was created on your browser. That cookie can then be accessed by platforms like Google and Facebook to identify site visitors and see where else they’ve been. Ever searched for something and then felt like it was following you all over the internet? That’s a 3rd party cookie at work.
The 1st party cookie is stored on the site that you’re visiting. Say you go to randomwebsite.com. That website will create a 1st party cookie that will remember things like stored preferences, pages visited, what’s in your shopping cart, etc. That information is then used to personalize your experiences on that site. What’s powerful about the 1st party cookie is that it’s not reliant on your behavior outside of that website, so it’s uniquely tailored to the individual and their journey on that site.
How can the end of 3rd Party Cookie be a good thing?
Good question. There are those who contend that the companies who control the information also control the flow of marketing dollars. The good news is that two can play that game. As those companies do away with 3rd party cookies as a means of advertising to their audiences, they too are becoming more reliant on first party data to improve customer experiences. And so can you. Your first party data and owned media assets like your website, your blog, your social media sites and your content can all be harnessed to create a powerful first party customer journey.
What’s even better is that as your customer journey relies less on the externalities of the 3rd party cookie, you can create incredibly powerful and optimized first party customer journeys with Click360. You can start to optimize for the kinds of content customers should see based on the sites that they’re coming from, predict the kinds of next steps you’d like to surface throughout the journey based on their behavior, and even change UX/UI to address the behaviors of how people are navigating the website and converting to revenue. Read on for more ways Click360 can help you prepare for the end of 3rd party cookies while also moving towards a first party customer journey.
7 Simple Ways Click360 Can Help You Prepare for the End of 3rd Party Cookies, While Also Making Your Entire Customer Journey a 1st Party Journey at the Same Time:
- Capture Everything First Party – Once you stop relying on 3rd party cookies for search and marketing intent, and instead start capturing your customer journey first party, you won’t need to guess where your most valuable customers are coming from. You’ll see exactly which paid and organic channels drive your most profitable website visitors, which will give you focused budgets and allocate efforts to those most valuable channels.
- Reduce Dependency on Data Enrichment, Search Intent and Marketing Intent – While these are super valuable components of your overall customer journey prior to prospects showing up on the website, they’re only a source of insight for who might be buying from the business. The problem is, most of that information tells you a lot about what they did somewhere else, and little about who is going to convert to revenue for your business. What Click360 provides you is a clear picture of what your actual customers are doing. It tells you what their specific behaviors are both prior to and after the click. So instead of designing your experience for people who might buy from you, you can optimize it for people that demonstrably do buy from you.
- End Reliance on External Data Factors – Like it or not, in many ways you’re already reliant on the first party data of platforms you’re spending ad dollars with. They capture your first party data, anonymize it, and sell it back to you as things like personas, interests and look-alikes. That data is yours, it belongs to you, and you should be able to wild it with confidence.
- End Your Dependence on the Performance Data of Paid Media Platforms – Much like what comes out of the bakery, no cookie lasts forever. In many cases, 3rd party cookies expire prior to the end of the customer journey. That muddies the water when what you really need is the data that determines what your best top-of-funnel, middle-of-funnel and bottom-of-funnel channels, platforms and campaigns are. If you capture the customer journey with first party data, then you never have to guess which marketing efforts should drive the most valuable behaviors. Instead, you’re looking at which marketing efforts actually did drive those behaviors.
- Outperform the Algorithms of Paid Media Platforms – There’s a big reason why platforms would capture their own first party behavior and sell it back to you as personas, interests and the like. It gives them total control over the kinds of data they share with you. That makes you reliant on their algorithms instead of the direct observations of behavior from your best audiences. Click360 cuts out the middle-man and arms you with the actionable insight needed to target the most valuable audiences for your business. Businesses are like snowflakes in that not two customer journeys are alike. And therefore, neither are their persona profiles.
- Never Lose Attribution – Measure End-to-End Customer Journeys – Digital cookies, like edible ones, disappear over time. If you’re using free analytics tools as a part of your media strategy, or tools that only look at snapshots of customer journeys… once those cookies are gone, they’re gone forever. And, you’ve lost the ability to understand behavior over time. If your customer journey is longer than 7 days, you may be spending money against channels that look like they’re driving revenue, but aren’t. You could also be cutting ad spend against channels that ARE driving revenue. The longer the journey, the harder it is to capture – and platforms like Click360 don’t rely on those cookies for capturing the entire customer journey.
- Start Now. Win Later – We still have some time before the cliff of all 3rd party cookies are going away. Some platforms have already started doing away with them, some will go away later this year, and most major platforms will have eliminated them by 2022. That means you have quite a bit of time to capture your end-to-end customer journey as a first party customer journey. Those who start sooner vs. later will know exactly how to allocate marketing dollars when the time comes.
Creating a First Party Data Customer Journey
There is no better time to get started on building your first party customer journey. Start by creating owned and inbound marketing pieces like content marketing, blogs, email and social media. Get a feel for how customers are converting to revenue and optimize UX/UI towards those behaviors. Leverage platforms like Click360 that can capture the most valuable revenue generating on-site behaviors. Use those behaviors to optimize your audiences, understand which marketing efforts draw them to the site, and how to move them through the marketing funnel. Instead of chasing every site visitor with re-targeting, save those precious paid media dollars to target only those customers most likely to buy from you. Then, you can even see which channels are worthy of your marketing budgets by understanding exactly which ones drive your most valuable first party customer journeys.
At Click360, we believe that marketers deserve the insight needed to be confident in their budget allocations, that they deserve credit for the revenues they’re driving, and that the data belongs to the business that created it. If you’re looking for ways to improve your customer journey, optimize marketing expenditure and stay ahead of the 3rd party cookie debacle, we’d love to chat.