Google’s Third-Party Cookie Changes: A LiveArea Perspective
March 19, 2020
Marketers beware. Google announced recently that it will decommission third-party cookies on its Chrome browser within the next two years. To improve end-user experience and privacy in the browser, Google is creating a new solution for more secure and robust advertising. The bad news is that third-party cookie changes upend digital marketing. The good news is that focusing on first-party data collection and management can move you forward fast on this new digital frontier.
In short, say goodbye to third-party cookies in Chrome. This change will have far-reaching impact on anyone who leverages cookies to identify users or serve ads.
Third-party cookies enable brands to see if ads are converting. For example, assume a customer visits your website – call it, pinkpig.com – and you want to retarget them on Facebook, serving up a promotion for the pink pig they eyed on your site. Currently, when the consumer arrives at pinkpig.com, a cookie is placed on their browser. Later when the consumer visits Facebook.com, Facebook sees the cookie, knows the consumer visited pinkpig.com, and serves up a targeted ad based on their browsing history on the site.
With the cookie changes, Facebook will need a new way to identify a user who visited your site and a new way to correlate their visits to Facebook or other social media platforms. You can begin to see the problem not only for Facebook, but for any ad network trying to identify and target users, their interests, and behaviors.
Cheer up, it’s not all bad
Many advertisers view this change as an affront to their business. Google is altering how digital advertising is served via its ubiquitous browser. And, let’s face it, the primary beneficiary is, well, Google. In its defense, the company has stated that its goal is to create a new architecture for serving ads that is more secure and beneficial to end users. The fact is, a solution isn’t in place yet, explaining the two-year, slow roll for the change. But there’s work being done on an API that provides the data companies need. Considerable progress is required, though, before the solution can be widely adopted.
First things first
With that said, we believe marketers should be investing in their first-party data and data management that will yield returns regardless of how things shake out.
First-party data comes directly from your audiences, as opposed to second- or third-party data, which originates from outside sources (remember www.pinkpig.com and Facebook). You collect it from your customers, site visitors, email list subscribers or other people interacting directly with your brand. And, because you collect it directly from your own customers, first-party data is higher quality and highly relevant.
Over time marketers have relied on vendors to create somewhat of a black box solution that allows them to target and reach audiences or create a specific customer experience. Marketers should now look to shift their focus to investing in their first-party customer data as a valuable resource. Investing in technologies that allow you to collect, leverage and manage the information you already know about your customers allows you to create unique and impactful experiences independent of third parties.
Customer data platforms (CDP) create a reliable, persistent, unified customer data base that’s accessible to other systems. Data is pulled from multiple sources, cleaned and combined to create a single customer profile. This structured data is then made available to other marketing systems. If you have a clean, trustworthy data set of known customer values and actions, you can distribute that information to multiple vendors to create engaging marketing touch points across the customer journey regardless of vendor.
Leveraging a CDP
Take our example above, leveraging a CDP we could create a list of known customers who visited www.pinkpig.com and did not make a purchase. We can use that list of customers to retarget on social platforms, show them unique content and send personalized email communications. The more we know about our customers directly, the better we can create solutions that will serve relevant ads at the right time.
The benefits of a CDP extend far beyond our simple use case. A good platform can ingest multiple data sources both offline and online, which will improve targeting compared to the current model. Not only can we know a customer visited our website, we can also identify if they made in-store purchases. This saves marketing dollars when we know our customers already purchased the pink pig they were viewing on the site. A more intimate connection is forged with the customer.
We know digital advertising is going to rapidly evolve over the next two years. The change to cookies is going to shake up the current architecture, but by investing in your owned data you can set yourself up for success with a flexible, secure, and effective solution to get ahead of the curve.
Questions about the shift that’s coming? If you need help preparing your marketing strategies or want guidance on leveraging a CDP, contact us at LiveArea. Our digital marketing consultants have vast experience working with first-party data and putting clients in a position to tap into this digital gold mine. Contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Author: David Campanella
David has specialized in digital analysis, reporting, and technical implementation for LiveArea for the past 6 years. His biggest passion is consumer behavior and finding ways to create meaningful brand experiences that connect the consumer to your company.