The latest in the never-ending twists and turns of data policy came in June 2021, when Google announced its plans to delay the deprecation of third-party cookies in Chrome from 2022 to 2023. Digital marketers in the middle of a frantic rush to prepare for a world without cookies could suddenly breathe a sigh of relief.
Marketers can’t relax entirely, though. While Google’s delay has given the industry a critical period to test, refine, and evolve its collective alternatives, cookie deprecation is still inevitable, and browsers such as Safari and Firefox are already cookieless. There’s no time to waste in finding and implementing a new solution.
A cookieless ecosystem governed by new data privacy standards rewards brands and publishers that can capture, authenticate, and leverage first-party data at the core of their efforts. Brands without first-party data will be at a competitive disadvantage, and, one way or another, marketers must become proficient in leveraging this data to drive new consumer insights and improve experiences.
The goal of data privacy and cookie deprecation is to ensure that consumers will have more control over their data and that brands will provide more transparency about what consumers are getting in return. This isn’t a problem that can be solved by technology alone, as no amount of data wizardry can replace real, direct relationships with customers.
Publishers, on the other hand, can directly provide consumers with experiences that justify the exchange of information. In the transition to first-party data, brands can benefit by working directly with publishers to connect addressable inventory with marketer audiences.
First-party data plays a role in every strategy
First-party data is not a silver bullet for filling the gaps left by cookie deprecation. Marketers must rely on a combination of different strategies to understand their audiences, leveraging first-, second-, and third-party data. They will need a kernel of real knowledge about their audience to fuel any and all modeling. Understanding the customer and forming relationships with audiences is critical, especially for brands that plan to rely on other targeting and measurement methods. In building any data strategy, people-based identity belongs at the core, as the source of truth from which marketers can model, extrapolate, and compare information about the consumers they’re trying to reach and serve.
Ultimately, brands will need first-party data to operate in cookieless environments, even if this data only serves as an anchor for a broader and more diverse targeting program. But, many brands have come to a troubling conclusion: the acquisition costs of gathering first-party data at scale, let alone maintaining, activating, and enriching it—and ensuring compliance—can be high. Now brand marketers are asking themselves:
- How do I leverage the first-party data that I have?
- How can I get the most out of this data?
- How can I gather more first-party data efficiently?
There’s no doubt that extracting additional value out of existing first-party data is a worthwhile endeavor, as is deepening relationships with trusted publishers. Direct relationships, driven by engagement and a tangible value exchange, are the cornerstone of a new digital ecosystem built on transparency and consent. In this respect, media companies that have invested decades into building a dedicated audience are more than just publishers: they serve as the new source of truth for data-driven targeting.
Go to the source for audience insights
As a result, close collaboration between brands and publishers will benefit both parties long term. With direct publisher relationships, brands can achieve a transparent exchange of data that delivers and nurtures tangible benefits for consumers, such as entertainment, products, services and, most importantly, meaningful, personalized engagement. That’s one return that will keep on giving.