The use of third-party cookies is coming to an end, and eventually, cookies will be abandoned altogether. 

What should digital marketers do when the majority of their online traffic becomes anonymous?

The use of third-party cookies that capture online behavioral information has long been a driving force in digital marketing, both in terms of targeting and measurement.

However, the situation is changing with the GDPR and numerous national privacy regulations. 2023 will be a turning point — Google Chrome, which accounts for nearly 65% of all online traffic, will join Safari and Firefox in banning third-party cookies. 

As a result, it will be impossible for marketers to create and reach the right audiences based on online behavior on other sites or, for example, to analyze the effectiveness of their ads.

The good news is that there is a lot to be done, and being active does pay off. In the near future, the collection of user data will be on a voluntary basis. This tends to strengthen brand loyalty and customer satisfaction. 

But before we get to the how let’s quickly define cookies and parties.

What are cookies and parties

Cookies

A cookie is a small file stored on a user’s computer. At the request of a service provider, the browser program stores information that can be retrieved later by that very service provider. The file typically contains a short amount of text. 

For example, cookies are used to personalize website visits by remembering a language choice. Cookies can also be used to track the sites a user visits. Thus, cookies are useful in the development of the service and in increasing customer understanding, as well as in marketing.

First-party data

First-party data is information that can be collected directly from your own audience or customers. It’s behavioral, activity, or interest-based data collected from a website or application. It’s relatively easy to collect and manage, especially if you have a Data Management System (DMP). Managing and utilizing first-party data should be a top priority for any business.

Second-party data

Second-party data is the first-party data of another party. The data is collected for sale directly from the other party so that the source of the data is known and the accuracy of the data can be assured. Second-party data is thus similar in quality to first-party data, but the source is someone other than your own audience.

Third-party data

Third-party data is data that you purchase from external sources that are not the original collectors of the data. Third-party operators collect large amounts of data, which they then process and resell. Service providers categorize data based on, for example, audience behavior and interests, as well as demographic information such as age and gender.

Five steps to getting closer to your customer

Step 1: Offer something of value to your customers

The first step is to provide your potential customers with something they’re willing to exchange their personal information for. Put yourself in their shoes and openly divulge what they will gain once you get to know them. Use data to help you improve your customer experience and services. Do your best to ensure that each visit grows your customer base.

Step 2: Round up your existing customer data

The second step is to round up the customer data collected by your organization. It’s now more valuable than ever. Carefully re-analyze the available information. You’ll probably find a lot that has gone unnoticed as you focus on measuring and targeting.

Step 3: Engage your known prospects

Third, consider why your customers would want to engage and hear about your business in the future. What if you set up a loyalty program with real benefits, for example? Or could your newsletter provide more interesting content for product demos and offers? Remember that interesting content is not only permitted but requested. Become a desirable partner and an interesting company.

Step 4: Build a community

Fourth, build creative campaigns and work with influencers on channels where your audience spends their time — on social media and other platforms that require registration. A good marketing mix and the analytics connected to it are key in the new cookieless reality.

Step 5: Plan for the transition period

Fifth, draw up a comprehensive plan for the current year’s transition period for all of the above. The more carefully you prepare, the better your results. Now is the time to act.

About the author

Niko Karppinen works at Tulos as an expert in search engine optimization and web analytics.

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