Preparing for a Cookieless World of Marketing

Internet marketing is about to enter a new phase.

Advertisers can no longer rely on third-party cookies. Future campaigns need to mine new data sources for customer information. According to the Interactive Advertising Bureau’s 2022 State of Data Report, nearly 60% of marketing executives expect the loss of cookies to significantly affect their campaign measurement strategy. 
Fortunately, the answer is already here. This blog explains why third-party cookies are going away and demonstrates how to prepare for a cookieless future. 

Marketing in a World of Cookies

Cookies are small files stored on your browser that contain scraps of information and have been used for a long time to track user data.
First-party cookies are generated by the website you’re visiting. These cookies might keep track of your login details, which pages you’ve visited, and user preferences like language. 
Third-party cookies are generated by websites that you’re not currently visiting. For example, if you visit a fishing website before visiting a popular site like Facebook, you might see an ad for new fishing poles in your social media feed. 

The Rise and Fall of Tracking Cookies

The first internet cookie was created in 1993. By 1996, people were already concerned about privacy. However, consumer privacy laws were much weaker at the time. 

Cookies flourished for decades, becoming completely enmeshed within the modern internet marketing paradigm. They’re popular because they’re instrumental when trying to build customer profiles. The fishing pole brand really does benefit when people who visit pro-fishing sites see their ads. 

Most cookies are not harmful. Perhaps you really want a new fishing pole. However, danger is introduced when companies gain access to information you don’t want to share. For instance, you may not want companies to know your health status, but they may be able to figure it out anyway if they have enough data. You may have visited autoimmune websites or purchased pill organizers. 

These privacy concerns have grown more pronounced as years passed and data aggregators grew more powerful.

A Win for User Privacy 

In 2016, the European Union forced websites to rethink consumer privacy with the passage of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Under the GDPR, websites must ask users’ permission before collecting their personal data. 

These rules affect cookies. To be GDPR-compliant, websites need to stop collecting cookies or they need to get users’ explicit consent. A message that says “you accept cookies by visiting this site” is insufficient. Users need to indicate consent with an intentional action. 

California’s Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) introduced new privacy laws for California residents and went into effect in 2020. Under the CCPA, cookies are classified as personal information. Websites need to be upfront about collecting data and reveal how they’re using it. Users also need to be able to opt-out. 

Popular web browsers are limiting third-party cookies as well. Safari, Firefox, and Brave block third-party cookies by default. Google Chrome, the most popular browser, plans to do so in 2023. In 2021, Apple updated its privacy laws to allow users to opt in or out of data sharing. Google also recently announced they will be making changes to privacy measures within its Android software. There is no exact timeline for this change yet, but Google has said it will support its existing technology for at least two more years.

Despite this, the IAB report notes that “investment in third-party data increased 8.1% year-over-year, double the rate of increase seen last year.” 

What Does a Cookieless World Mean for Marketers?

The “cookiepocalypse” doesn’t mean the end of marketing. Instead, it means that marketers need to pivot their strategies toward different sources. First-party and zero-party data, for instance, is willingly provided by the user, eliminating any privacy concerns. 

Some of the things that marketers currently depend on will disappear in the cookieless world, so flexibility is required. For instance, you may be used to using third-party data to segment your audience. Or, third-party cookies may be part of your closed-loop marketing strategy. Without cookies, you’ll have to find different ways to measure your campaign’s success. 

According to the IAB, 41% of marketers expect to increase spending on first-party data this year, and 34% expect to change their measurement approaches. 

How to Prepare for a Cookieless Future

With the extinction of third-party cookies just around the corner, marketers need to start revamping their ad campaigns. Your exact strategy will depend on your brand, but here are a few factors to keep in mind. 

Make Note of all The Places You Use Third-Party Cookies Now
How are you using third-party cookies now? Before you figure out your new marketing plan, it’s a good idea to examine how third-party cookies are being used in your current campaigns.

For example, you might use Facebook to build your audience. Facebook uses third-party cookies to flesh out its user data, so without cookies, the data may not be as accurate. 

Have a Flexible Mindset

The advertising methods that you’re used to may not work anymore. That’s okay! Marketing is a constantly evolving field. 
Being flexible means staying open-minded and being willing to consider new strategies. Suppose you use cookies to track conversions from other sites. Now that cookies are being eliminated, you’ll need to consider different attribution methods. 

Start Testing New Technologies to Find Data Solutions

There are ways to source data without sacrificing consumer privacy. To adapt to the new paradigm, test these different technologies and see which ones are helpful.

For instance, if you’re looking for cookieless tracking, try using postback URLs. This is a special ID that’s triggered whenever someone clicks on your ad. Information about the conversion is then sent back to you. Because information is sent server-to-server, there are no cookies involved. 

Educate Yourself on Privacy Regulations

If you want to save yourself from an expensive headache, educate yourself on current privacy regulations. This is an ongoing process. The rules that are in place today may not be the same rules that will govern the internet in a few months. 

The CCPA is the first legislation of its kind in the U.S. It could, however, trigger regulations in additional states. It’s important that your knowledge stays up-to-date. 

It’s also essential to know which laws apply to your brand. Currently, the CCPA applies to businesses that “Have a gross annual revenue of over $25 million; Buy, receive, or sell the personal information of 50,000 or more California residents, households, or devices; Or Derive 50% or more of their annual revenue from selling California residents’ personal information.”

Be Transparent About Your Data Policies

Transparency rules. Both the GDPR and the CCPA require that companies be explicit about their data collection processes. 
Disclosing how you use personal data will help consumers trust your brand. They’ll be more willing to provide additional information like their birthdays and shopping preferences if they feel that you’re transparent. 

Cookies Aren’t a Problem When You Have Klover

In a world without  cookies, Klover is a marketer’s best friend. We provide marketers with zero-party data they can trust. Our users share personal transaction data in exchange for free financial services, giving us access to a trove of verified, ethically-sourced data. With Klover, you can create custom audiences based on users’ spending history and track your ads from first impression to first purchase. Klover is the modern solution for closed-loop attribution. 
Discover precisely how zero-party data can strengthen your business.

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