Data Privacy in Digital Marketing: How to Thrive in a Cookieless Future
By Lee Pittman
Data privacy regulations, such as GDPR and CCPA, have significantly altered the digital marketing landscape, particularly in how companies collect and use customer data.
One of the most notable changes resulting from these regulations is the phasing out of third party cookies, which have long been a critical tool for tracking user behavior and delivering targeted advertising.
As marketers and advertisers look ahead to a cookieless future, we’ll shed light on what’s happening to third party cookies and the privacy-focused alternatives available.
What’s Happening with Third Party Cookies?
Third party cookie support has enabled advertisers to track visitors across the internet for years. However, in 2020, Google announced plans to block third party cookies on the Chrome browser by 2022.
Firefox and Safari had already implemented this block. However, frequent delays have seen Google extend the timeline year after year, with the current plan being to migrate 1% of Chrome users to Privacy Sandbox and turn off third party cookies in Q1 of 2024.
The Privacy Push
How companies treat personal data is a key consideration for earning consumer trust since cookies leverage personal data to provide a personalized experience.
While leading brands have enjoyed everything third party cookies offered over the years, it hasn’t always been smooth sailing for customers. Third party tracking meant that interacting with an enterprise on one website might result in seeing an ad for an event or content asset following you across the web, even if those following websites visited were completely unrelated.
Data shows that 41% of consumers trust companies that do not use tracking cookies. As such, regulations such as GDPR and CCPA have been a driving force behind blocking third party cookies as customers feel like these approaches invade their privacy.
Per GDPR, cookies that aren’t required for the website’s basic functionality can only be activated after visitors consent to have their personal data collected – thus encouraging the use of first party cookies instead.
Potential Impact on Marketers
Marketing teams relying heavily on third party cookies to power their campaigns must explore alternative approaches to stay competitive. As a result of the phase-out, companies should anticipate a reduction in access to their target audience, fewer opportunities for retargeting, and a limitation in achieving the same level of granular targeting they were accustomed to.
Despite these challenges, this shift presents an opportunity for marketing teams to revamp their strategies and concentrate on privacy-focused alternatives that align with evolving data privacy regulations.
Why Data and Privacy Should Be Central to Marketing Strategies
Beyond the legal and ethical obligations, there are many compelling reasons why data and privacy should be at the core of every marketing endeavor. Some of the benefits include:
Increased Trust and Transparency
Businesses can instill trust in their customers by demonstrating a commitment to data privacy and protection. Asking before gathering cookie data also showcases a will to be transparent. When consumers feel that their personal information is secure and handled responsibly, they are more likely to engage with brands and share their data willingly.
Better Targeted Personalization
Data about consumer preferences, behaviors, and needs enables marketers to tailor their messaging, offers, and content to resonate with specific target audiences. Privacy-conscious data collection practices ensure that personalization is achieved without compromising user privacy. It can also help companies to provide more targeted personalization as consumers only share the data they want.
Preventing Financial Issues
While regulations encourage enterprises to focus on privacy to prevent being fined, there have been instances where companies have lost revenue due to seemingly betraying customer trust.
For example, Sleep Number Beds collected biometric data on their customers, including recording customers while they were sleeping. This initially didn’t go down well with consumers, who were unaware of the extent to which and how data was being collected until they read the fine print.
Increasing Customer Loyalty
When customers feel that their privacy is respected and their personal information is handled responsibly, they are likelier to develop a deep sense of loyalty. This can translate into repeat purchases, positive recommendations, and long-term customer relationships.
How Marketers Can Go Cookieless: Alternative Tracking Methods
For marketers to survive the removal of cookies, the first thing they must do is adopt a customer-centric approach, which ensures that the focus remains on understanding and meeting the needs of individual customers rather than trying to leverage their data for only the company’s benefit.
Some alternatives to be used instead of third party cookies to help prepare for the cookieless future include:
Leveraging First Party Cookies
First party cookies get created when a visitor comes to a website. Unlike third party cookies, these track user interactions, preferences, and behavior. For example, if a visitor comes from a different country or has visited the website several times.
Leveraging first party cookies lets marketers personalize messaging, deliver tailored experiences, and nurture long-term customer relationships. The benefits include improved targeting accuracy, enhanced personalization, and increased customer trust due to the direct connection between the customer and the brand.
Harnessing Zero Party Data
Zero party data refers to information that customers willingly and proactively share with businesses. This data includes explicit preferences, intentions, and interests expressed through surveys or quizzes.
By utilizing zero party data, marketers can gain deeper insights into customer motivations, enabling them to deliver highly personalized experiences. It also gives customers more control over their data and the experiences they receive, which helps to boost trust. Businesses leveraging zero party data can create more relevant and engaging marketing campaigns, building stronger connections with their audience.
Embracing Contextual Advertising
Contextual advertising relies on the content and context of a webpage rather than individual user data. By analyzing keywords, topics, and sentiment, marketers can deliver relevant ads that align with the context of a user’s browsing experience. Contextual advertising offers improved privacy as user data is not collected or tracked, reduced reliance on cookies, and an opportunity to deliver more contextual relevance.
Building a Privacy-Focused Customer Strategy
With third party cookies set to depart, companies need to focus on alternative tracking and data-gathering methods to continue delivering the personalized experiences customers demand. Having the right tools at their disposal makes this process easier, as well as the expertise to help get the most out of them.
Content Bloom offers various services, from digital marketing to content management, to help businesses get more out of a world without cookies and continue improving the customer experience. Our digital marketing expertise can help enterprises leverage customer data and improve their personalization efforts to drive engagement. Using our data-driven approach, brands can create conversion-optimized content across channels.
Interested in learning more about how Content Bloom can help you realize your privacy-focused strategy? Contact us today.
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