Digital Transformation

4 ways for B2B marketers to future-proof their strategies ahead of cookie deprecation

By Matt Yorke | Global chief revenue officer

May 19, 2022 | 7 min read

B2B marketers are too often left out of the cookie conversation, but they too face major hurdles to delivering personalized content and measuring campaign success in the post-cookie world. Matt Yorke, global chief revenue officer at Foundry, spells out four tactics for B2B brands to adopt today to maximize the effectiveness of future targeting and measurement.

As time creeps ever closer to the unavoidable cookiepocalypse, the discussion about how marketers are to continue effectively targeting and measuring campaigns without vast troves of third-party cookies at their disposal grows louder.

People shaking hands illustration

Much of that discussion has focused on the challenges and needs faced by B2C marketers. Yes, B2C marketers have always relied on third-party cookies to target campaigns at scale, across wide audiences. But B2B marketers face their own set of unique challenges when it comes to cookie deprecation.

B2B marketers need to reach a highly specified, niche audience. And a lead could result in large sums of money changing hands as well as in the foundation of years-long business relationships. The stakes are particularly high. In B2B, marketers have relied on third-party data to narrow their targeting — to reach stakeholders and decision-makers at the right moment, while eliminating wasted spend and proving ROI on their campaigns.

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It’s crucial for B2B marketers to understand their place in the cookie conversation, advocate for their specific needs and develop strong strategies for life beyond third-party cookies. Consider these methods to futureproof your B2B marketing strategy:

Prioritize first-party, rather than third-party data

In addition to the reality that B2B marketers need highly accurate targeting, B2B buyers expect personalization in ads and other marketing. First-party data is key to those efforts — verifiable insights that can be connected to specific consumers and shared consensually by the consumer. Understanding the consumer’s actions and decisions concerning the brand enables marketers to personalize.

But, again, marketers will likely find they have limited first-party data on a niche target audience — which accelerates the need to maximize data. The capacity to integrate B2B marketing data and sales data is a great boon. So is working with trusted business partners, particularly publisher and martech partners. In fact, according to data from eMarketer, marketers say data from on-site and in-app consumer behavior is as important to them as data from social media, with their own list data being the only source they prefer more.

By removing these datasets from their old silos, marketers can fill in any gaps left from the loss of third-party cookies in their account-based marketing measures. Those first-party insights can reveal patterns in intent data that can in turn facilitate modeling to scale campaigns beyond their “known knowns.” Machine learning makes analysis of that data more efficient, and ultimately more effective.

Focus on publishers rather than programmatic

The open exchange has always been of limited use for most B2B marketers. If the marketer’s goal is to convert leads and prospects, programmatic’s capacity to prospect the web and discover new audiences is less efficient and more likely to lead to wasted spend.

Without large third-party cookies, the open exchange will carry even greater risks of waste than it already has. B2B marketers need to get more closely aligned with their publisher partners to understand the value of the audiences and inventory that those publishers can bring. Publishers bring their own valuable, verifiable first-party data to the table, and direct relationships allow marketers to put more of that data to better use.

Whether marketers buy direct-sold inventory or use programmatic direct channels, they’re deepening relationships with the publishers that reach their best audiences, and publishers will reward marketers for the steady business by sharing more insights to help marketers meet their campaign goals. Automation can drive marketing efficiencies, but so can knowledgeable human sources.

Embrace contextual targeting

The appeal of contextual targeting in the leadup to the cookiepocalypse is obvious: it’s a familiar strategy for publishers and marketers alike. The most advanced contextual providers can analyze page content in an adequately nuanced way to target on relevant content efficiently and dynamically.

Contextual advertising, paired with engaging creative, garners consumer attention — it can even help improve brand recall by 69%, per research from GumGum. Leading publishers are well aware of the power their content will hold here as third-party cookies lose dominance. Many have been working to get ahead of the curve, by testing various contextual partners so they can implement or super-charge their contextual capabilities. B2B marketers also need to understand and invest in contextual solutions, and to work with their publisher partners to align their nuanced targeting needs with the content their ideal customers are engaged with.

Focus on outcomes as a service

The shift away from third-party cookies heralds a new phase of B2B marketing. And all told, marketers need to escape from the inefficiencies and strain of the regular RFPs and deadlines they’ve known.

Outcomes as a service (OaaS) will help marketers meet this moment. Rather than buying audiences, OaaS allows marketers to buy explicit outcomes — leads, impressions and so on — through means similar to the familiar SaaS model. With OaaS, which is powered by first-party data, planning happens once, at the outset, and campaigns can be more agile thanks to real-time reporting and data insights.

While there’s been a lot of discussion about how the cookiepocalypse will be a disruptive force, B2B marketers need to consider it an opportunity to regroup, examine their strategies, identify inefficiencies and patterns of waste and rebuild using the best that today’s market can offer. It’s time to develop new strategies that address the distinct and nuanced nature of B2B. And many of the answers to B2B marketers’ questions are already here — provided they know where to look.

Matt Yorke is global chief revenue officer at Foundry.

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