Before the end of 2022, Google will no longer support the use of third-party cookies in Chrome. In doing so, Google joins a growing list of browsers that, under pressure from legislation and increasingly vocal calls for more privacy, have decided to curb the current method of tracking.
However, the end of third party cookies does not mean the end of tracking technology. Online marketers will have to use new and smarter ways to reach their target groups and goals. Consumer centricity is a key word here. The use of first party data is therefore becoming increasingly important. Read here what you need to do today to be ready for the end of third party cookies tomorrow.
A quick refresher: what are first and third party cookies?
First party cookies are placed by the owner of a website. The purpose of first party cookies is to gain insight into the behavior of visitors on a site, in order to enhance the experience of users.
Third party cookies are placed by companies, such as Google and Facebook, that are not directly involved with a website. Third party cookies are intended to pass information. By sharing this information, we can reach website visitors elsewhere based on their behavior outside of our own website.
First party data as a pillar for your data strategy
When we can no longer use third-party cookies, it becomes increasingly important to get to know our visitors well. Relevance and personalization are the basis of online performance. First party data is essential to measure the movements and experiences of visitors. It allows you to analyze how visitors behave on your platform. You can use it to make decisions aimed at improving the overall user experience, both broadly and on an individual level. Getting your data collection in order starts with a well thought-out data strategy. Those who do not get their data strategy in order today will have lost relevance tomorrow.
Scalable customer acquisition
With a well-established data strategy you get clarity and certainty about where your focus should lie in ‘customer experience’ and marketing. A better grip on these matters results in better conversion.
Developing a good strategy in advance and executing it correctly ensures that the data is easier to interpret. By knowing your visitor better, you are able to have faster insights and draw conclusions.
Transparency and reliability
Users demand honesty and transparency about what data you collect and what you do with it. Legislation requires us to obtain consent before placing cookies. If you are transparent and trustworthy, you can assume that users will give that permission. After all, our interest lies with users and improving their experience.
Important questions in the strategy process
Make a clear division (to whom does what belong?)
What performance/goals do we attach to the data?
How do we collect and organize the data?
What do you use, what don’t you use and how long do you store it?
What value does it have for you and the customer?
How do we ensure that this is collected uniformly?
Four practical tips to get started today
The growing importance of first party data is clear. So make sure that the data that you are allowed to collect is as complete as possible and that you use it efficiently.
Step 1: Get your cookie consent in order
An important precondition for a future-proof data strategy is obtaining permission to place cookies, using a “cookie consent”. Without cookie consent, the legal basis for your data strategy is lost. The lack of it is more than just an AVG risk; it undermines your entire personalization strategy. This makes it a continuity risk not to be underestimated for organizations that are increasingly dependent on their online channels.
Make sure that no cookies are loaded before the user indicates to accept them. Many websites still get this wrong, with all the associated risks. In some cases, the realization can be complex. An agency can assist you with this.
There are countless ways in which organizations ask for consent. Some are much more successful in obtaining consent than others. Regularly we see companies struggling with low consent rates, due to a standard notification that does not touch the target audience enough. The result is poorer data collection.
Using A/B testing and UX best practices, we ensure that the probability of acceptance is as high as possible.
Step 2: Implement Google Analytics 4
To be prepared for a future without cookies, make the switch to Google Analytics 4. GA4 is designed to fill the gaps created by the disappearance of third-party data. As Google itself describes it:
“Because the technology landscape continues to evolve, the new Analytics is designed to adapt to a future with or without cookies or identifiers. It uses a flexible approach to measurement, and in the future, will include modelling to fill in the gaps where the data may be incomplete. This means that you can rely on Google Analytics to help you measure your marketing results and meet customer needs now as you navigate the recovery and as you face uncertainty in the future.”
For the time being, we at DBOM recommend using both variants of Google Analytics alongside each other. This way you make maximum use of available data and insights, while being able to monitor data quality. Use the deployment of GA4 to set a new standard for data quality. This is the moment to look again at your KPIs and adjust your measurement plan to future developments. After all, the quality of your own data is becoming increasingly important. Set up a process for monitoring your data quality.
It is wise to ask an agency for support in this. It is the foundation of your future online success. It has to be rock solid.
Step 3: Target Group Matching
For advertisers it is of course still interesting for example to want to address new target groups with ads. For this there is the possibility to compare your first party data with a larger dataset and see if your customer and/or similar profiles are among them.
This is done in ‘Data Cleanrooms’. Parties with large amounts of data, such as Google, Facebook and the major publishers, are increasingly offering these. The concept itself is not new. For example, you may be familiar with Google’s ‘Customer Match’ and Facebook’s ‘Custom Audiences’. To be able to use these, a unique identifier must be given. Both Google and Facebook have options for this. This must be arranged per situation.
Step 4: Personalization using a CDP
Once your tracking and matching is in order, you can really get down to business. By listening to and analyzing your customer better, you can already personalize and compose target groups pretty well yourself. And find other look-a-likes based on these profiles. Reading your own data very well and intelligently enables you to create better campaigns. Campaigns that appeal better and land more effectively because they are more personal. But also because they look at what activates your customer or visitor.
The importance of Customer Data Platforms
In the future, we will increasingly use conversational marketing techniques to achieve this, such as chat (bots), email marketing and marketing automation. With the help of Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) we are able to personalize the entire customer journey across all channels, thus adding maximum relevance. A CDP is set up to build good and usable data and customer profiles and make them insightful for us.
Based on this insight, you can build target groups that you can address in an applied way. You understand:
Addressing a more targeted audience with personalized ads yields better performing campaigns.
A more specific way of addressing on the site will result in better conversion.
Almost all CDP’s have journey based models and force you to look at the best route for certain customers. By doing so, you can also see what qualitative improvements in your website/campaigns you need to apply for better results.
Assessing which CDP is suitable for your organization is a complex and risky job. As a platform-independent implementation partner, we are happy to advise you on the pros and cons of various CDPs, such as Datatrics, Blueconic and Squeezely.
Want to know more about what a CDP is and how it can contribute to your goals? Then contact us for a personalization quick-scan.