Hear me out: the death of the cookie is a good thing for marketers - here’s why
Google's decision to sunset cookies by the end of 2024 has led some marketers to despair, others to ignore it completely. But there is another approach, says Nick Watson (VP client success EMEA, Marigold): instead of viewing this as a challenge, marketers should see it as an opportunity for digital disruption. Here’s why.
Please, not another article about the demise of third-party tracking cookies. Apologies in advance, but with so much fatalism on the challenges marketers are going to face as Google edges closer to full curtailment, at Marigold, we think this time of digital disruption is, in fact, one of incredible opportunity.
For decades, cookies have been the lifeblood of the online advertising ecosystem and the de facto way for both driving awareness and sales. Although the halt has been postponed, Google will be ceasing their use by the end of 2024 (Safari and Firefox already have), and the behemoth is insistent that it will not be building or integrating other forms of identifiers to track individuals browsing the web.
The loss of third-party cookies will inevitably make it more difficult for marketers wedded to the practice of tracking users online to serve them targeted advertising across a myriad of websites and apps. But, for those forward-thinking marketers who want to own their database (rather than relying on the walled gardens), deliver experiences consumers actually want to engage with, and build genuine relationships, this is good news.
Why digital advertising isn’t clicking anymore
With often limited resources and tight deadlines, allocating budget to formats like digital advertising or social media is understandable. However, connecting with your audience within the walled gardens – where the cost of advertising is ever-increasing (according to a recent Criteo study, up 27% in just one year) and the algorithms seldom favor brand marketers – will perpetually see reach diminish while costs rise month over month. In all of this, delivering a better experience to the consumer is forgotten, and the opportunity for brands to forge a one-to-one relationship is improbable.
The 2023 Consumer Trends Index surveyed more than 7,000 European consumers, and a resounding 58% said ads fueled by cookies are “creepy.” The future of relationship marketing isn’t about squandering more budget to Google or the social media giants. Consumers are also clear that they don’t want to be tracked without their consent, so it’s not about finding surreptitious ways to circumvent the death of the cookie.
The future is about connecting with consumers directly on the channels they prefer and collecting the opt-ins, behavioral and psychographic data required to deliver truly personalized experiences. The solution is zero-party data.
What is zero-party data and how does it affect relationship marketing?
It is possible for marketers to gather the preference data required, not just to know what their customers have done in the past, but also what they intend to do in the future. This is zero-party data, and it is the future of relationship marketing across the entire customer lifecycle, from acquisition to retention and emotional loyalty.
Marketers collect this class of data by connecting directly with consumers, and rather than making inferences and assumptions, they simply ask. The data, insights and permissions they provide can then be used to power personalized marketing. As it comes directly and willingly from the consumer, there are no intermediaries or guesswork.
How to gather zero-party data at scale
The utopia described above is a little easier to extoll in an article than actualize. Consumers are more cognizant than ever of the value of their data and are not going to hand it over without receiving something of value in return — this is the value-exchange economy. The good news is that 66% of consumers will happily share their behavioral and psychographic data in return for a better service, and marketers can realize this through interactive experiences that conduct granular research, progressively profile, and accrue opt-ins.
Questionnaires, polls, quizzes, sweepstakes, QR codes at point-of-sale and social stories, to name a few, can incorporate reward mechanics that give consumers a genuine reason to engage and submit their first- and zero-party data. It doesn’t have to be an extravagant prize or discount. Consumers will share their preferences in return for unlocking content, personalized recommendations, to feel part of a brand’s community, and for early or exclusive access to products and services.
True personalization that goes beyond a first name
Using zero-party data, you can personalize your marketing with granularity and specificity. Messages can and should offer products your customers have expressed an interest in, that fit their declared budgets and contain dynamic content that uses keywords you know will elicit engagement from them.
The death of the cookie is a wake-up call for marketers to stop relying on tracking technology and start engaging consumers in the same way they communicate among themselves conversationally. Be bold — be transparent in how you intend to use consumer data, and get it straight from the source. The death of the cookie is good news for marketers.
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Marigold is a global pioneer in relationship marketing, providing tailored, industry-specific martech solutions to over 40,000 businesses around the world. With Campaign Monitor, Cheetah Digital, Emma, Sailthru, Selligent, and Vuture under one roof, Marigold delivers the technology and expertise marketers need to grow relationships, grow revenue, and ultimately grow their businesses. Find out more at MeetMarigold.com.Find out more