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Marketing experts on viable substitutions to third-party cookie loss: Part II

As explored in our previous deep-dive into Google’s decision to jettison third-party cookies in 2023, marketers and brands all agreed on the importance of zero- and first-party data.

This comes in the wake of software giant Adobe releasing a report claiming that 44% of consumers would part with an additional £250 a year if brands showed themselves to be good corporate citizens, and use their data responsibly.

Here, representatives from Mindshare, B2B Media Group, Immediate Media and others offer their advice on how to make the most of consumers’ data.

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Jennifer Brennan, digital strategist at Fox Agency: Expect teething issues

“As Third-Party cookies fade out, the most important thing will be trust and partnership. To continue harnessing accurate and useful data, marketers need to build strong relationships with publishers, agencies, and advertisers. Teething issues are inevitable, as with anything new, so act now rather than waiting until the last minute to find out what works for you. Through regular transparent and collaborative conversations, marketers can be secure in the knowledge they are using compliant data to continue delivering successful campaigns.”

Kerry Dawes, technical director at Digitas UK: Focus on enhanced content

“Consumers now know the value of their data and have little tolerance for irrelevant experience. In the third-party cookie-less future the focus is to grow and know more about your audiences. But to do that you must ensure there is a robust value exchange for why consumers should hand over their contact details and consent. Enhanced content, exclusive access and premium features are all great ways to do that.”

Kate Amos, head of experience sciences at RAPP UK: Think visual and gamification

“Be selective in what data you are going to collect and have clear use cases that demonstrate the value in collecting the data for both the customer and brand. Then think about how you make data collection part of the experience and build data progressively. Plan visual and gamified experiences to encourage hand raising and data sharing. Relook at your preference data. Do you actively use it to personalise, when did you last ask customers to update and how can you signpost preference updating across your customer experience?”

Morys Ireland, head of data & technology services at Mindshare: A balance between privacy and utility

“The balance between accuracy and utility for marketers versus privacy and data security for consumers has yet to be settled in many areas of digital activation. Add to this an increasing focus on going beyond regulatory compliance to achieve ethical data usage and it seems there is still plenty for the industry to navigate through. The first step in preparing for a future without third-party cookies is to take stock of how a brand is realising data-driven advertising today. In doing this, many brands have uncovered opportunities to renew their focus not just on cookies but on their entire approach to data and technology – building cookie-less into their broader data strategies and aligning these with the wider digital transformation of the business.”

Shorful Islam, chief data scientist at Tribal Worldwide: Expect new ad effectiveness 

“This is an opportunity for the industry to make the most of this new challenge, firstly by focusing on collecting first-party data, ensuring that data used about the customer has been collected in a transparent way, and used solely by the brand collecting it and potentially its partners. Also, expect new ad effectiveness solutions to emerge, enabling us to combine the robustness of econometrics with the power of machine learning.”

Gustavo Burnier, CMO at Usercentrics: Build trust through clear consent

“Consent will be key for successful data-driven business in the future. Respecting users’ data privacy is more than just a mandatory legal requirement; it has become a strong metric of brand reputation – users only share their data with businesses they trust. So, building trust through a compliant collection of consent will not only help gather valuable data, it will also promote brand loyalty and generate a high customer lifetime value that ultimately leads to increased revenues.”

Dave O’Flanagan, chief product officer at Sitecore: You must have agile tech

“The key [to first-party data] is as consumers are now able to opt out of sharing data, brands must demonstrate a value exchange that comes with an improved and personalised experience. Consumers want to feel seen as an individual by brands, and be sent the right message, at the right time on the right platform – so brands must have agile technology in place to collect, analyse and then react in real-time.”

Gareth O’Sullivan, director of client media at The Creation Agency: Cost-per-click & cost-per-lead is increasing

“With the removal of third-party cookies and platforms removing targeting needs, we’ve seen an increase in both CPC and CPL across the majority of our clients, most noticeable on Facebook and LinkedIn. As a result, along with B2B tech buyers becoming smarter and younger, we are transitioning to a new customer-centric model.”

Dirk Wischnewski, CMO at B2B Media Group: Be careful when IP-targeting

“For IP-based targeting, it’s important to make sure that the only data used is the one the users have given their content for. Consent is also critical when obtaining an IP address in a compliant manner. To go beyond the IP address and gather more precise information for people-based targeting – such as job roles to target specific job titles – B2B marketers need to implement a lead form that asks for consent and more specific details.”

Adam Gillett, CCO and co-founder at FanFinders: Blend valuable communications with sales messaging

“Ownership of potential customer data as well as existing customer data along with an ongoing targeted engagement program delivers the perfect mix for communications programs and creates a long-term sales funnel without reliance on ongoing ad spend with spiralling costs. Use publisher partners and incentives to recruit for email and SMS campaigns and be careful to get the right blend between valuable, useful communication and direct hard-hitting sales messages.”

Dan Trotter, co-founder at PPC Geeks: Avoid intrusive cookie use

“We are working with our clients and partners to make sure we can keep the ‘Performance’ element of ‘Performance Marketing’ while the word steps away from cookies. Conversion tracking will now be much more difficult to set up, but be more robust and less open to abuse from certain platforms that have a very bad press from their intrusive use of cookies.”

Gemma Russell, senior digital marketing strategist at Fountain Partnership: Test conversion modelling solutions asap

“Our top tips are to conduct a measurement gap analysis, review your strategy for collecting first-party data and start to test conversion modelling solutions as a starting point.”

James Miller, lead strategy consultant at Carruthers and Jackson: Don’t discard second-party data

“[Another] approach to cookie-less data collecting is through second-party data sharing. This refers to businesses sharing anonymous customer insights. This must be strictly governed, but it offers a way for retailers and other brands to work together to deliver enhanced customer experiences. This approach requires relative sophistication with data to extract strong insights, but it is becoming an increasingly important way to understand and target customers.”

Alex Hazell, Head of Legal and Privacy at Acxiom: You cannot ignore of Apple, Google and Meta

“No brand can afford to ignore the big ‘walled gardens’ of Apple, Google and Meta, and the means they offer to target and find out more about audiences. But they also shouldn’t become wholly reliant on them. Place greater priority on finding ways to create your own first-party data and presence, using the channels you have at your disposal. Examine the technology and processes you have in place to capture information about your customers, and make investments that allow you to take charge of the data you have at your disposal.”

Belle Lawrence, associate director at Immediate Future: And finally, let me tell you about social media pixels…

“Targeting through social media pixels can be far more effective than with cookies. Pixels measure campaign performance, track conversion and automatically create audiences based on who consumers are, what they do, and what they buy. Pixels enable the identification of demographic data – standard criteria such as age, gender and location. Granular understanding is achieved through behaviour and sentiment tracking, choices of TV programming, favourite magazines, attitudes, and specific motivators that can be identified and analysed. It is also possible to track conversation content.”