Marketing's Cookie Jar Is Almost Empty

Tips for baking a better data-driven strategy

Marketing's Cookie Jar Is Almost Empty
Lauren Vaccarello, CMO of Talend

By, Lauren Vaccarello

Marketing is like baking. You must use the freshest and healthiest ingredients to enhance the finished product. Until recently, marketers have been comfortable relying on third-party cookies to track consumer activity and behaviour across the Internet. As a traditional tool, cookies collect the data needed to target ads to the right audience and improve the user experience. Cookies empowered marketers to track a user's activity within a specific browser instead of a single website. However, the landscape is changing, and cookies are becoming stale. By 2022, Google plans to eliminate the third-party cookie through its Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) initiative. FLoC will force marketers to find new ways of connecting with their target audiences without losing relevance or violating privacy laws.

Stale ingredients will ruin the mix

It is crucial to use the freshest ingredients in baking, or the outcome won’t taste right. Like those ageing spices at the back of your pantry, cookies are now past their expiration date. This results in:

  • Targeting consumers with harmful adware/spyware
  • Generating fake clicks
  • Eroding a customer's trust because they do not control the use of their information

So, what does it take to create a data-driven marketing strategy without cookies?

Fresh and trustworthy data is essential

Zero-party and first-party data provide a fresh, targeted blend of ingredients filled with valuable customer insights.

With first-party data, consumers are permitting you to gather information on them while they browse your site. Zero-party data is very similar to first-party data, but with one key difference: you're going directly to your consumers and asking them upfront for their insights.

Cookie-based data makes inferences about broad demographic segments of people. Zero-party data instead provides information that is intentionally and proactively shared directly by individual consumers. It is direct customer relationship engagement.

So, what does it take to leverage the benefits of data-driven, trustworthy targeted marketing without falling prey to privacy issues and regulations? Many brands use mechanisms such as polls, quizzes, sweepstakes questionnaires, or interactive social media stories to collect explicitly opt-in data that provide precise insights into consumer preferences. This type of data collection is a win-win: It offers customers greater control and transparency over their data while delivering access to information that enables companies to target personalised offers effectively.

While zero-party data is very flavourful, it's a more challenging ingredient to obtain because customers must have a solid incentive to hand over their information. First-party data is a healthy alternative to zero-party data and is an easy ingredient to organise and manage. The associated costs and privacy concerns are minimal because the information is coming directly from the source. Voluntary data leads to more robust, authentic, and longer-lasting customer relationships.

When mixed in with artificial intelligence technology, first-party data provides marketers with valuable insights into future customer behaviour. For example, a marketer's data reveals their customer consistently puts diapers in their online shopping cart every month. In that case, there is relatively high confidence the customer will return to purchase diapers in the future. Targeting ads based on the data illustrates to customers that a business is paying attention to the use of their information. The marketer can follow up with subsequent email campaigns and other targeted communications advertising baby products if the first-party data shows that customers more frequently engage with video ads than banners on a website.

Creating a healthier recipe for success

There was a time when every kitchen had a big tin of Crisco. We now know that it's horrible for you. Instead of sticking with old habits we knew were unhealthy, we got creative. Now home kitchens are filled with exciting new ingredients and equipment that can produce delicious recipes without relying on unhealthy fats.

Like Crisco, cookies are the unhealthy staple in your marketing program. They contribute to marketing's unhealthy relationship with data information because the ads are served up based on outdated information siphoned from a customer's past behaviour. Zero-party and first-party quality data do not cause this issue.

The goal of every organisation should be to create systems and a community that can actively manage the health of the data underpinning all business activity. We believe that data health will become a key, if not the most important, performance framework used within and across organisations to monitor and sustain the company's health. With healthy data based on zero- and first-party data, you can create more compelling and targeted information within your marketing program and, ultimately, build stronger relationships.

One final pinch of insight

For forward-looking marketers, the loss of third-party cookies isn't the end; it's an opportunity to create an intelligent, data-driven, and reciprocal relationship between their businesses and the customers they serve. Now that's a healthy recipe for marketing success. Bon Appetite!

Lauren Vaccarello is the Chief Marketing Officer of Talend