Change is the only constant. – Buddha The eventual withdrawal of third-party cookies, planned for 2023, will have major repercussions on a range of digital marketing products and solutions. Targeting, measurement and attribution will be transformed by these changes to varying degrees. Certain alternative solutions are currently being developed, but it’s hard to imagine a world in which digital media will not be transformed by the pro-privacy initiatives, as they are called, undertaken by Apple and Google. But how do things stand for content and customer experience platforms and tools? Reminder : The impact of the Cookie Apocalypse on your paid media initiatives
Expected effects on customer experience
The majority of platforms used for your content strategies and customer experience shouldn’t be directly affected by the eventual withdrawal of third-party cookies. The backlash of these transformations will instead be felt in other channels, which might influence and increase the importance of your first-party data acquisition strategies. Here we present an overall view of the changes you should expect on your web assets.
Repercussions to expect: None or few Post-cookie importance: High Customer communication tools have the advantage of being a source of first-party data—your customer data belongs to you, and the removal of third-party cookies will theoretically not influence your email strategy (although it might increase its importance). A CRM like HubSpot will not be affected. “HubSpot’s cookies are first-party cookies, so they’re not impacted by the Chrome updates. Your HubSpot tracking code will continue to function, and your HubSpot reports will continue to contain data.”Source On the other hand, some CRMs offer an audience or data enrichment component, such as Salesforce’s Audience Studio.
The cookie apocalypse could therefore have major repercussions on this type of solution, but you should still remember that such solutions aren’t generally 100% dependent on third-party cookies.
“Audience Studio has prepared for this change and can collect many more types of IDs next to cookies: hashed emails from your customers and other customer IDs, MAID and Ad IDs that all mobile devices have and is used in apps […]. A key argument for why the impact on Audience Studio will be limited is that currently the share of digital ad spend using cookies is only around 25%.”–Source
Customer accounts and loyalty programs
Repercussions to expect: None to few Post-cookie importance: Very high
Odds are that an advantageous loyalty program will remain one of the best sources of first-party data. You will still need to offer something interesting in exchange for information about your users. “Publishers will need to create identity solutions. […]Users’ behaviour, preferences and activity can then be tracked as publishers will now be able to track the user journey and predict their likely actions.The data tracked using the identity solution can then be stored into a Data Management Platform (DMP), which can then be leveraged as first-party data for campaign targeting or cross promotion.” –IAB SEA+India Data & Analytics Committee
Download our preparatory guide to the cookie apocalypse
Repercussions to expect: Few Post-cookie importance:High
Content is a major entryway to many sites and an excellent opportunity to build or refine your audiences based on your users’ interests. An efficient content strategy can therefore offer many advantages if it’s used synergistically with a relevant loyalty program.
“The next best option to cookies based behavioral targeting is anything keyword or keyword contextual-based advertising. Years ago everyone discounted it and we moved further and further away from keyword targeting, but now we’re going to have to go straight back to it.” – Jon Kagan, VP of Search at Cogniscient Media
It should be emphasized that creating interactive or downloadable content is a good way to build contextualized audiences.
AB tests and personalization
Cookies and A/B test
It’s the more advanced functionalities that will experience blowback from these changes the most. For example, a dynamic personalization tool connected to a targeting platform with third-party data will not be able to continue to function as-is.
Apple and A/B test
Repercussions to expect: Average to elevated
The recent changes brought by Apple will hurt. Basically, with ITP 2.3, Apple is limiting the tracking of users to 7 days.
“So, with ITP, a visitor coming back more than seven days after they initially triggered an experiment runs the risk of seeing a different variation. A/B testing in these conditions is useless and does not produce reliable results.” –Lauréline Saux Conversion testing generally needs to be done over a long period of time to be meaningful, and now, suddenly, targeting and measurement are no longer reliable on Apple devices. This means it’s necessary to make some adjustments when it comes to targeting and data interpretation.
Repercussions to expect: Low Post-cookie importance:Unchanged Heatmap tools (such as Hotjar or Crazy Egg) also use first-party cookies. But while these shouldn’t experience any repercussions following Google’s changes, measurement components might be transformed in the same way as performance analysis tools.
To sum up
The repercussions of the cookie apocalypse on your owned channels should be relatively low, but effects on your paid media and data could cause significant turmoil.
Sound data collection should therefore be prioritized to better position your company against the competition. Do you think you’re well positioned? Might it be time to rebalance your efforts?