With third-party cookies on the way out, Adobe Vice President of DX Marketing, APAC and Japan Duncan Egan shares his top tips on futureproofing your business.
If 2020 was a watershed in the evolution of the digital customer experience – driven by the pandemic and resulting in dramatic growth in ecommerce and the rapid uptake of digital technology – brace yourself, there’s more sweeping change afoot. This time, it’s the rise of consent-based marketing driven by growing privacy concerns that have ushered in a new era of cookieless internet browsing.
The end of 2022 is set to witness the crumbling of the third-party cookie after more than a decade of being the primary force by which brands could track and target individual internet users online, cost-effectively filling customer acquisition funnels and driving sales.
In response to increasing privacy regulation, such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) legislation and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), Apple, Mozilla, Google and others are moving away from allowing individuals to be targeted without their consent.
Some of that change has already arrived. In April 2021, an update to Apple’s operating system highlighted a privacy feature that threatens to prevent app developers from collecting data from most of Apple’s billion or so users to personalise ads.
The demise of third-party cookies is expected to herald a new era of consent-driven digital marketing characterised by authenticated customer experiences.
For marketers, that means getting better at collecting and managing the first-party data users share directly with them and finding new ways to identify and target consumers online — with their permission.
Yet, most organisations are not prepared for the change that’s coming. In fact, two in three expect it will disrupt their marketing activities but have yet to get their data house in order, according to Adobe’s 2021 Digital Trends report.
And only one in two executives say that privacy and consent are key factors in their planning.
Here are six steps marketers can follow to prepare to market with consent – while avoiding fatigue:
- Put yourself in the customer’s shoes
The first step is to think about the customer experience from the customer’s point of view. That means avoiding bombarding consumers with requests for consent – or advertising – once you have consent. It also means considering carefully when, why and how you request that consent.
- Centralise your existing data
Less than one in five marketers think their organisations are “very effective” at gathering first party-data to deliver strong experiences throughout the customer journey, according to the 2021 Digital Trends report.
It’s critical to house customer and other owned first-party data in one centralised hub to provide a single view of the customer and to establish a persistent cross-channel ID. This should also be enabled across all organisational units and tools for audience segmentation, targeting, and measurement.
Data that remains siloed — for example, customer data managed by IT and behavioural data that’s handled by marketing — is hard to understand and action and can lead to multiple requests for information you already have elsewhere in the business.
- Invest in the technology you need
If you don’t already have a customer data platform, it may be time to invest. CDPs make use of all data, including first-party data, to create a persistent and unified customer database. This enables brands to create and then execute from a unified customer profile.
Consider how your CDP brings together first-party web, app and publisher data from scaled behavioural interactions, such as the actions of unknown visitors, durable first-party customer identifiers such as email addresses and phone numbers, and consents to facilitate real-time customer experience management.
- Seek a beneficial value exchange
Brands that don’t already have much first-party customer data should focus on creating a robust first-party data strategy that includes obtaining durable customer IDs with marketing consents attached.
To obtain these, brands need to offer something of value in return. This could be compelling content, personalised recommendations, discounts, rebates, gamified features, and so on — and it will differ greatly from organisation to organisation and from brand to brand.
Only 16 per cent of marketers believe they are very effective at communicating the value offered in exchange for customers’ consent when they first encounter the brand — such as saving customers time, making more relevant offers, and so on.
- Consider your consent management and compliance strategy
Consider how you will ensure that the consents you obtain remain attached to the data and personally identifiable information (PII) you collect so that your organisation never shares data that it shouldn’t and doesn’t contact or market to people who don’t want to be contacted.
Be transparent about consent by establishing a consent centre so that customers and visitors can manage their own consents online. Have a strategy for ensuring your policies and practices are up-to-date with the latest regulatory changes.
- Complement your first-party data with other sources
While a robust first-party data strategy will be essential to delivering a personalised customer experience with consent, it may not provide you with the scale your brand needs.
Consider ways to augment your first-party data strategy, such as context targeting based on advertising in relevant content or data co-ops in which complementary organisations share data for their mutual benefit – with consumer content.
Thriving in the cookieless revolution
Whatever your first-party data strategy, it’s important to collect your durable first-party data with a customer-centric approach, make it actionable and stitch it across your assets with consent applied.
Only then can you use it to personalise the customer experience in real-time without wearing out your welcome or creeping out your customers — positioning your brand to thrive in the cookieless revolution.
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