When digital marketers talk about using cookies in their campaigns – we’re not talking about tempting the consumer with a chocolate chip, or a macadamia nut for making a purchase. Third party cookies are online trackers, which follow a user journey, noting the pages they visit and the products or services they look at; using this information, marketers can then serve advertisements displaying the products and services of interest to this user, increasing the chances of conversion.
And yet, the age of the third party cookie is coming to an end. Due to increasing privacy concerns amongst the general public, Google has made the decision to depreciate their third-party cookies. While this transition is going to be gradual, with plans to migrate 1% of chrome users to Google’s Privacy Sandbox API by early 2024, it remains vital for marketers to find alternate methods of remarketing to maintain current levels of success as the cookies crumble.
Alternate methods to third party cookies
First party data strategy
In the same way that gingerbread cookies have a completely different recipe to a macaron, not all digital cookies are made the same. Due to the differences in first-party vs. third-party cookies, they do not raise the same levels of concern around privacy, and will therefore remain vital to remarketing or retargeting strategies.
|First-party cookies||Third Party Cookies|
|Can be set up by:
||Can be set by:
|Only accessible on the domain it was created on||Accessible on any website that loads the third party servers code|
|Supported by all browsers, and can be deleted or blocked by the user.||While it is currently supported by all browsers, many are now blocking them by default. Many users will also actively delete third party cookies on a regular basis.|
Advantages of using first-party cookie data collection include:
- Data analysis: gives you a picture on how the user interacts with your brand
- Personalised targeting: this data allows you to personalise your targeting, to give the users a more human, and less robotic feeling of your brand. Personalised targeting helps you not only retain current customers, but also to interact with new users and potential customers.
- Multi channel targeting: since first-party data can be collected across multiple channels, this gives you the ability to target the customer across their user journey, maximising the potential.
- Push notifications: first-party cookies allow you to analyse user behaviour and send them push notifications (on both the web, or any applications) at optimum times to encourage engagement with your site. Push notifications give you the ability to interact with customers, even if they are not currently on your website.
Creating a collection
Alongside the default collections, you can create and customise additional collections within your property. Each property can have up to 7 collections.
To create a collection, navigate to the Library tab, and click create new collection. From here it will prompt you to either opt for starting from scratch with a blank collection, or you can select from a template. Whichever you choose, you will then be prompted to name your collection, and then create and name a new topic.
Once this is done you can start dragging reports into your topic; you can have one overview report, and up to 10 detailed reports. You can add any additional topics to your collection as desired, and each collection can have up to 5 topics.
When you choose to create a collection from a template, you will be provided with the following options:
- Life cycle: allows you to get an understanding of the full customer experience, from acquisition to retention
- User: gives you an understanding of the demographics of your customer base, and the technology they use
- App developer: focuses on the user experience in-app, and is ideal for IOs and android app developers
- Games: for app based games, this collection displays any relevant dimensions and metrics
Hashed Emails are encrypted codes between 32-64 characters within Email addresses that allows tracking of users across different platforms, browsers or devices, whenever this Email address is used.
As third-party cookies dissolve, hashed Emails will become predominant identifiers of users across the web, allowing advertisers to track and target their audience wherever they are logged in online. In this day and age, people use their Email addresses everywhere online – which allows tracking of users across almost all areas of the internet. This can include:
- Social media platforms
- Mobile devices
- Other smart devices such as TVs or tablets
Like first-party cookies, hashed Emails provide far more user security than third-party cookies, which is why they do not raise the same privacy concerns, and for this reason make it a great alternative to cookie based marketing.
A greater focus on retention rather than acquisition
As mentioned above, returning customers represent a higher conversion rate than new customers, so putting a greater emphasis on customer retention, rather than acquisition is likely the way forward. Methods you can use to increase customer retention, and improve consumer experience are:
- Collecting customer feedback: feedback, whether it be positive or negative can give you an insight into how you are perceived by customers. While some feedback could be a one-off, if you are seeing any themes emerging in comments from customers you will gain an understanding of areas that are performing well – giving you a platform you can build upon, as well as areas that you can improve.
- Reward customer loyalty: are you noticing customers coming back frequently? Give them opportunities to earn discounts, offers, or access to exclusives (i.e. early access to sales, or new product launches). Running a loyalty programme, or a token economy can also boost sales performance, while also rewarding customers for their loyalty to your brand.
- Optimise your customer service: even if your products are the best on the market, if your customer service is lacking, it is likely going to have a negative impact on your reputation. Even if customers experience issues with your brand, strong customer service that leaves a positive lasting impression will hopefully mend any damage and turn them into a repeat customer.
Looking to a future without cookies…
While we may not be able to survive without double choc chips, peanut butter, or oatmeal raisin cookies (though the latter is debatable) – digital marketers will certainly survive in a world without third-party cookies.
Digital marketers need to start incorporating tactics such as first-party data collection, hashed Emails, and a greater focus on retention into their marketing strategies in order to adapt to the digital marketplace as the cookies crumble. Using the above tactics will ensure that your remarketing or retargeting campaigns will continue to thrive pre, during, and post transition to a cookie-less future.