When You Give a Marketer a Cookie…

Khrysti Nazzaro - July 30, 2021

As the popular children’s tale goes: When you give a sophisticated marketer a cookie, they will serve targeted ads to qualified users. And when qualified users see targeted ads, they will feel heard and understood and will convert.

In the hands of skilled marketers, cookies facilitate seamless, “magical” experiences matching users’ needs with solutions. But all good things run the risk of overuse. When unskilled marketers are at the helm, cookie-based targeting results in a cacophony of obtrusive, jarring ads lacking in synergy and success.

In their natural state people crave convenience and are generally okay with the exchange of some information about themselves in order to receive it.  Doubt it? How often do you clear your browser cache and how annoyed are you when you do and then must reenter passwords and/or re-customize your settings to suit your personal preferences? Still doubtful? How many users does Facebook have? In exchange for free accounts, people tell the platform everything about themselves.

However, nothing is sure to wake people from their general complacency as much as poor, invasive ad experiences. They drive users to demand stricter data privacy controls. Hence one of several reasons we’re experiencing a rise in self-imposed tracking regulations from platforms, such as changes in iOS 14 and Google’s push to stop utilizing 3rd party cookies (scheduled for 2023).

These tracking restrictions in the USA, are reminiscent of the Hollywood Production Code of the 1930s. Prior to movie Ratings (G, PG, etc.), the major Hollywood studios created their own code of morality for what could be shown on screen in order to try to pre-empt external bodies from regulating them. The channels are in a similar boat, “we’ll ‘police’ ourselves,” they proclaim, so no one else (such as government bodies) has any further reason (beyond some measures already taken by states) to do so for them.

When you consider that third-party cookies have been the essential building block of personalized advertising aiding the tremendous growth of Digital Advertising over the past 20 years, these changes seem apocalyptic. How does Online Marketing survive in this new world? You may want to take a listen to some of our team’s thoughts on how to shift your strategy.

Some challenges we’ll all need to prepare for in the absence of third-party cookies, are:

  • Fewer Conversions
  • Limited Remarketing Options
    • Solution: Invest in campaigns and tools to grow your in-house list. The more first-party data you have, the easier it will be to continue to run targeted campaigns.
  • Breaks in Existing Attribution
    • Solution: Use Data Driven Attribution and/or experiment with Conversion Modeling in GA-4.

The moral of the tale: If you take away a sophisticated marketer’s cookies, they will embrace other data sources.

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