Third party cookies are crumbling. By 2022, Google will stop supporting them altogether. So if your business is reliant on them – for a complete view of consumers and your marketing activity, across channel, device and over time, for example – you stand to lose a valuable source of information. It’s a big problem that’s going to need your attention.
Google have been planning to stop support for third party cookies (3P) on the Chrome browser. This means that if a website tries to drop an advertising cookie onto a customer’s device, Google will block it, along with the ability to personalise adverts to the user.
With Chrome being the most popular choice of browser – and the likes of Safari and Firefox already not supporting 3P – this is a big deal. It means you can no longer show personalised ads to individuals as they browse.
But it also means that if you or your agency rely on third party cookies to track the effectiveness of your ads, your attribution models will be less accurate.
But it’s not just Google. There are challenges to using third party solutions as a result of privacy measures, such as Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), browser restrictions and privacy regulations. Identifying and tracking individuals is no easy matter.
But what’s going to replace it?
Federated Learning of Cohorts
Google have developed FLoC – or Federated Learning of Cohorts – which clusters individuals into groups based on their interests, which is derived from their browsing history. Accounts are anonymised but advertisers will be able to target their ads to these groups.
Google claim that FLoC is 95% as effective as 3P in terms of ROI, though that has been disputed by some. We won’t know how good a replacement for 3P it is until it’s made available for use.
So what else should you be doing?
First Party Data is Superior
If you don’t want to use third party cookies or they prove ineffective for your needs, then first party cookies are going to become more valuable. These are the cookies that are set when a visitor lands on your site (with their permission of course – more on this in a moment).
It’s your data – you own it – so you’re in full control and have future-proofed your marketing effectiveness.
In many ways, this is a superior way of collecting data, as the user is proactively giving their consent. And Google has no plans to stifle their use. So any first party data gained from your website’s visitors on all browsers will still be intact.
But what can you do with First Party cookies? All sorts of useful things, is the simple answer – and it generates significant ROI.
- Personalise your website for each customer, based on their browsing history and other known data. For example, you might want to put the products they’re interested in on the home page or present loyalty offers for high value customers. Your website no longer needs to be ‘one size fits all’. Now it’s ‘one size fits one’, where every customer can have a unique experience – and one that suits them.
- Improve the customer experience by retaining important details, such as log-in details, language or location preferences and abandon baskets so the customer can pick up where they left off
- Create unique customer communications by joining up browsing behaviour with existing offline data, enabling real-time personalised, engaging marketing communications to make them feel special (whether that is via email, direct mail, in the call centre or in store).
- Combining browsing data with your offline information also produces deeper, more meaningful analysis – you have a complete picture of your customers and you’ll be able to see, perhaps for the first time, where the true value and opportunities lie.
- More accurate attribution – first party cookies help you draw together all the different media a customer has been exposed to on the way to your site and other touchpoints, to understand the effectiveness and ROI of each channel
But you must also make sure that you have consent to collect cookies – even first party ones. Regulators have turned something of a blind eye to the issue of cookie consent over the last year, but the rules are clear. You must have clear, informed consent to collect anything but essential cookies from the start. No consent, no cookies.
So make sure that your cookie policies and privacy policies are up to date and that you’re designing your landing pages to maximise consent.
If you’re struggling to make sense of the world of cookies, we can help. We’ve enabled clients not only to collect the right cookies, but to combine them with existing data to create highly personalised and hugely effective marketing activity.