What the Death of Third-Party Cookies Means for Marketers

Let’s talk cookies — and I’m not referring to the classic chocolate chip vs. oatmeal raisin debate (although we all know which one is superior). As marketers and consumers, we’re more than familiar with third-party data, which gathers information about your customers’ demographics, including age, gender, location, interests, preferences, etc. As of September 2020, 80% of marketers felt reliant on third-party cookies, with approximately $19.7 billion spent on third-party data ($11.9 billion allocated to data itself and $7.8 billion allocated to data activation solutions) in 2019 alone.

The use of third-party data to track consumer behavior online is not a new concept to us as digital marketers. However, last year, internet browsers such as Safari and Firefox began blocking third-party cookies by default. In addition, the recent news that Apple will be launching enhanced privacy protection features with their upcoming iOS 15 update has likely shaken up many marketing strategies across industries because of limitations on consumer information companies are able to gather — largely due to restricted tracking through the Apple Mail app.

How are these changes to customer data privacy going to affect your marketing efforts? Keep reading to learn more and discover why a SmartHub CDP is crucial for giving your customers the personalized experiences they’re seeking without relying on third-party cookies.

Why are third-party cookies going away?

People depend on the internet every day for news, information, communication, shopping, media, and more. However, as the internet has grown in scope and depth, users have become increasingly wary of how their data is being tracked. According to Pew Research Center, roughly 6 in 10 Americans believe it’s not possible to go through their daily lives without companies and/or the government tracking their data. This third-party data paranoia has led to a greater demand for advanced privacy features that protect users’ identities online.

In response to this growing demand for privacy, Google made the groundbreaking decision to phase out third-party cookies across browsers — such as Chrome announcing its intent to remove support for third-party cookies last year. Though Google’s ban was planned to launch in 2022, it has been delayed until 2023 to allow time to make sure the changes are implemented thoughtfully and effectively.

Even as these privacy features give more comfort to people browsing the web, they also present challenges to marketers who are aiming for more dynamic content personalization. But all hope is not lost: first-party data (such as customer email addresses, purchase history, and behavioral tracking) is coming to the forefront of digital marketing, and Google’s changes will still allow your brand to target content to your existing customers.

What does the shift to first-party data mean for my brand?

As April Mullen, Director of Brand & Content Marketing at SparkPost, shared in a Blueshift webinar on the importance of first-party data, “Marketing should have always been a long game, and now it’s kind of forcing us to be in this long game.” From email addresses to phone numbers, there are several types of data that senior marketing and publishing executives believe may replace third-party cookies.

Despite the perceived risk that data deprecation will bring a loss of customer trust — 64% of marketers have this fear — the shift to first-party data presents an opportunity to increase customer loyalty. The top of the marketing funnel may be more narrow, but this means the customers your brand does captivate will move through the funnel even faster.

As customers become more selective about the companies with which they share personal data, engaging them with compelling personalized content becomes all the more important to achieve the above-mentioned goal. Now, there is a bit of irony here; how can you personalize content with limited data? We’ll get to that next.

How can a customer data platform improve my marketing strategy?

If you’re wondering how the elimination of third-party cookies and the consequent shift to first-party data will affect your brand’s omnichannel marketing strategy, you’re not alone. The great news is that there are platforms specifically designed to unify, activate, and maximize first-party data. That’s where Blueshift comes in.

Our SmartHub Customer Data Platform (CDP) was created for marketers, by marketers, meaning we’ve already anticipated your potential marketing challenges before you’ve had to face them. Using predictive, customizable AI, our customer data platform continuously drives engagement and growth, allowing you to create relevant content in real time and orchestrate meaningful user experiences across all channels.

With a SmartHub CDP like Blueshift, the fears associated with moving from third-party cookies to first-party data suddenly transform into advantages that give you an edge over your competitors. Learn more by watching our latest webinar on-demand now.

Want to prepare for the future of customer data and empower your brand’s marketing? Get in touch with one of our customer data platform experts today to schedule a demo of our SmartHub CDP.

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