a hand reaching for the  top cookie in  a stack
PHOTO: Tijana Drndarski

Marketers have long relied on third-party data such as the cookies collected by Google Chrome, but the company announced earlier this year that it will be stopping that practice by 2022, following similar moves by Firefox and Safari.

Marketers offered the following seven ideas for successfully making that break from third-party data:

1. Consider Software for First-Party Data

“As an advertiser who used third-party cookies to get accurate data about the audience for targeting strategies, I believe it is time for changes,” said Talha Waseem, tech content editor at InvoZone. “Governments are already operating on data privacy issues, with the EU region enforcing consent authorizations the most.”

Waseem recommends marketers keep up to date on the quickly changing privacy laws and to consider the various software solutions available that enable  marketers to better utilize first-party cookie data, which is much more acceptable across all browsers. He also suggested exploring contextual advertising as an alternative, using pay-per-clicks on websites in a similar niche.

2. Keep Scale in Mind

To get the maximum benefit out of first-party data, maximize its scalability, recommended Janet Balis, Americas customer and growth market leader and marketing practice leader for EY. “Scalability goals can be set relative to the overall addressable market size and the share of that market that a company hopes is contactable and, better yet, active. It is important to be sure that KPIs within the organization are well aligned to these goals.”

Related Article: We're All Stuck in the Privacy and Brand Safety Tangle

3. Prioritize Use Cases

Beyond the scale of data, Balis suggests the second dimension to address is identifying and prioritizing the use cases that a company plans to deploy to make intelligent, strategic use of that first-party data. “From email marketing, to personalization of content and offers, to couponing, to use of triggered emails, there are myriad use cases that can drive value from a first-party data set. The key is to understand which of the use cases will add the most value the quickest so that marketing leaders can partner with technology leaders to prioritize the most strategic uses of data, as opposed to enabling all potential use cases.”

4. Improve Content Alignment With Target Market

“You will need to get back to aligning good content with a group of users you want to reach out to pursue that sale,” said Lucas Robinson, CMO of Crediful. “In a post-cookie world, the user is more choosy about the advertising they wish to take in or the brands they want to trust, so this means marketers need to go back to basics and ensure they’re really producing great advertising that’s contextually relevant."

Robinson added that in the cookie-less world it is important for brands to enrich first party data as part of their strategy to create better advertising. Brands need to have a true value exchange with consumers, working with complementary brands to achieve this.

“I definitely think we are going to see more alliances and more publishers coming together to combine forces,” Robison said. With third-party data growing obsolete, Robinson argues the experience will become even more important, as brands try to create app-based content because of the benefits of first-party data. To convince customers to view and return to your content, getting elements like the user experience and design right will be critical. 

Related Article: GDPR Means Kiss Your Third-Party Data Goodbye

5. Use the Right Technology Architecture

In some cases, marketers, working with their CIOs, over-build their technology stack relative to the use cases that they are prepared to deploy at scale, Balis said. “With third party data declining in value, it is more important than ever to set the technology agenda around people-based IDs, as opposed to device-based IDs. These people-based identifiers are more durable than cookies and often involve personally identifiable information (PII), which is why attention to regulation becomes even more important.”

6. Control and Centralize Data

“Marketing organizations need to gain control of their data and mitigate risk to their brand and consumers,” said Scott Sullivan, CRO at Adswerve and former head of Google Marketing Platforms. “Integrating analytics and media functions under one roof isn’t just an efficiency play. Keeping a tight lid on your data operation is critical to protecting brand reputation. It also means accessing all data in ways that respect user privacy, like utilizing a data clean room approach.”

Sullivan said privacy needs to be ingrained in organizational culture in order to function effectively. Though the laws are in the state of flux, marketers shouldn’t take a “wait and see” approach, but instead should be proactive.

“It’s not just in the interest of avoiding fines, but in future-proofing your customer acquisition model,” Sullivan said.

Related Article: How GDPR and AI Turned Unified Data Into a Business Imperative

7. Human Enablement

Though much of the focus of shifting away from third-party cookies is on technology, humans are essential to success, Balis said. “Human enablement is often the most neglected by leaders in organizations. Human enablement involves making sure that the organization is actually prepared from a skills and workflows standpoint to deploy use cases and technology effectively so they can derive the maximum value from the companies’ investments in data and technology. It is critical to look at the organization’s mix of skills and abilities, hiring plans as well as training to quickly close gaps between the intended plan and the people who must make it a reality.”