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7 steps to thriving in
a cookieless world

Cookies have helped marketers track user behavior since the mid-90s, predating even Microsoft's now-defunct Internet Explorer browser. 

Since their invention in Netscape in ’94, their use has been controversial, attracting the interest of the US Federal Trade Commission in '96 and '97. But that hasn't stopped their use from growing exponentially since then, with third-party cookies being a significant driver behind the success of online advertising. 

However, all major browsers will soon permanently block their use. This creates a challenge for marketers who rely on cookie data to reach their target audiences.

If you are one of the many marketers scrambling to determine how to minimize the impact of the planned third-party cookie changes, you have come to the right place. In this article, we run through 7 steps to thriving in a post-third-party cookie world.

While there is no silver bullet solution, there are several steps that marketers can take to lessen the blow.


Our 7 steps to thrive in a cookieless future 


1. Collect first-party data 

Be compliant, communicate how data is collected and processed to your customers 

Switching to collecting data is necessary to minimize the impact of third-party cookie loss. First-party data is the most valuable and reliable data available, so it's essential to ensure you collect as much of it as possible. Ensure you comply with all relevant data privacy laws and regulations and be transparent with your customers about how you manage and use their data. 

There are a few critical pieces of first-party data that you should aim to collect to create targeted and effective marketing campaigns. These include things like: 

  • Demographic information - age, gender, location, etc.
  • Interests - psychographic information, lifestyle, product & service categories, marketing content, etc.
  • Engagement data - web page views, email opens, social media interactions, etc.
  • Technology - hardware and software used, etc.
  • History - transaction history, subscription history, behavior, etc.
  • Social media - account information, social interests, engagements, etc. 

Collecting this data can help you to segment your audience more effectively and target them with messages that are likely to resonate. It can also help you track your marketing campaign's performance and make necessary adjustments over time.


2. Provide more value

Motivate and incentivize users to share their data 

Very little is free in this world, and one of the most commonly used strategies for collecting first-party data is to provide something in return. The more value you provide, the more information you will likely get. Make sure that your offer is relevant and appealing to your target audience. Below are some tips to help you get started: 

  • Offer an incentive. Offering an incentive is a great way to persuade visitors to take action. This could be in the form of a discount, exclusive content, or early access to new products or features. 
  • Use social proof. Visitors are more likely to take action if they see that others have already done so. Display testimonials from satisfied customers or show how many people have already subscribed to your newsletter. 
  • Be honest and genuine. Focus on providing value and building relationships with your visitors. 

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3. Make the most of your first-party data  

Storing, profiling, and identifying areas of opportunity 

Quality is often more important than quantity when it comes to first-party data. Accurate data is essential for understanding your audience and making sound business decisions. By segmenting your data by location, role, or interest/product purchased, you can more easily target specific groups of people with tailored messages. 

When it comes to data management, companies should: 

  • Define what first-party data is collected and how it will be used. 
  • Create systems and processes for collecting and storing first-party data, its source, and collection date. 
  • Ensure that first-party data is accurate and up to date. 
  • Regularly review and update first-party data management practices. 


4. Refine customer experience 

Create communities, convert community members to customers 

One of the best ways to offset the loss of third-party data is to create a more personalized and engaging customer experience. This could involve creating online communities, converting customers into website users (i.e., people who actively use your product or service), or simply personalizing your communications. 

Without third-party cookies, companies will need to find other ways to identify visitors and track their behavior across the web. Using communities, companies have the opportunity to digitally identify users through their unique community account, profile their demographics, monitor their interests and behavior, and target them specifically with content and advertisements. 


5. Use contextual and publisher targeting 

Understand your audience and target ads based on their activity 

Contextual targeting refers to placing ads on web pages based on content. 

Publisher targeting involves advertisers selecting specific websites or publishers to display ads based on their audience interests.  

Both methods can effectively reach a target audience, but it is vital to consider the pros and cons of each before choosing a strategy. 

Contextual targeting can effectively reach a target audience because it allows ads to be placed in front of users who are already interested in the product or service category, without the need for cookieless tracking. For example, users may see an ad for travel insurance if they read a travel article. The downside of contextual targeting is that it can be challenging to control where ads are displayed. 

Publisher targeting gives advertisers more control over ad location, but it can be less effective than contextual targeting because it relies on the cooperation of publishers. The advertiser must first negotiate a placement agreement with the site, which can be time-consuming and difficult, and there is no guarantee that the target audience will see the ad. Additionally, dealing directly with the publisher can be expensive. 

When choosing a targeting strategy, it is crucial to consider the campaign's goals and available resources. Contextual targeting can be a good option for campaigns with limited budgets, while publisher targeting may be more appropriate for campaigns focused on a specific audience. 


6. Measure, test & learn 

Collect data, analyze, and optimize 

As with any marketing initiative, measuring, testing, and learning are essential to optimize your efforts. Try different tactics and see what works best for your business. Then adjust and repeat as necessary. 

There are two main ways to test and optimize first-party data: online experimentation and statistical modeling. 

  1. Online experimentation tests different versions of content or messages on a website or app to see which version performs better. This can be done using A/B testing, which involves randomly showing users two different versions of a message or piece of content and then measuring which version gets more clicks, conversions, or another desired outcome. 
  2. Statistical modeling is mathematically analyzing data to find patterns and relationships. This can be used to predict how likely someone is to convert on a website or take a desired action and can be used to optimize the chances of conversion by showing the right message or offer to the right person at the right time. 

Both online experimentation and statistical modeling require a good understanding of data. Still, online experimentation is generally faster and easier to set up and run, with statistical modeling relevant for accurate predictions. 


7. Use second-party data solutions 

Partner with reputable data providers 

If you're struggling to get your hands on first-party data, you can always try using second-party data solutions. These are data providers that collect and sell their own first-party data.  

Most online marketers know the power of first-party data, but few leverage the potential of second-party data. The data can include customer information, website traffic, event research, or any other data that would be useful to your business.

There are several ways to get your hands on second-party data. One way is to purchase it from first-party data providers, and another is to partner with another company with complementary products or services and exchange data with them. 

If you're not using second-party data, you're missing out on a valuable resource that can help you improve your marketing campaigns and make better business decisions. If you're unsure how to get started, contact our team for help. 


How we can help

If you are looking to set your business up for a cookieless world, get in touch. Our data activation platform is built on first-party data safe from impending changes. It's collected by us, owned by us, and rigorously checked by us. We provide access to uniquely qualified audience built from this first-party data and partner with clients to execute full-funnel strategies that unlock their value.