So what’s the deal with cookies?

The worldwide changes in privacy regulation have put most marketers on alert and many are asking themselves how they’ll manage customer data without third-party cookies.

Since marketers will no longer be able to rely on third-party data, they’ll need to start building real relationships with their consumers and a foundation of first-party data to succeed.

Cookies and Data

A cookie is a piece of code created by a server and saved on a user’s device. It allows marketers to collect data about their customers to bring them personalized experiences based on their preferences. Cookies are important because they help marketers know exactly what customers want.

Third-party cookies are particularly useful because they’re not created by the domain that’s being visited, and are accessible on any website that loads the third-party server’s code.

So that’s cookies. But cookies aren’t the same thing as data, though data is certainly related.

First-party data is collected and owned by a brand. It’s created through building trusting relationships with consumers and it allows marketers to test addressable marketing campaigns without needing to rely on third-party data. 

Second-party data partners is another brand’s first party data while third-party data is information that is collected by an entity that doesn’t have any relationship with the user. 

What kind of data can marketers collect with cookies?

Cookies allow marketers to see things like what sites a consumer visited, what they stopped to look at, what purchases they made, and more. 

Here are some other things cookies are used for:

  • Retargeting ads
  • Data storage
  • Retaining previously entered data (i.e. autocomplete)
  • Saving preferences
  • Authentication
  • Recording activity
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Age  
  • Interests
  • Which ads have been seen

Success stories

Data is ubiquitous: When you add items to your Amazon shopping cart, Amazon uses these items to predict things you might want to buy in the future. For example, if you purchase a lot of baby clothes, they might predict that you’re a parent that has small children. If you browse a lot of real estate listings, companies that use cookies and data might assume you’re on the market to buy a home soon. Otherwise, how would they know?

Since consumer targeting is the literal backbone of many campaigns, data is extremely important; if one type isn’t available, adjustments need to be made. 

Take Foursquare. In 2015, Foursquare said that it could predict the weekend’s Apple’s sales of its iPhone 6S and 6S Plus. “Combining Foursquare’s foot traffic with Apple’s sales data on a graph shows how closely the two are linked,” Jeff Glueck, Foursquare’s Chief Operating Officer, announced in a blog post.

Using this type of data, Foursquare was able to predict that launch day traffic would more than quadruple from previous weeks and the number of iPhone sales it would translate into (a record of 13 to 15 million.) 

“We aren’t claiming a causation at all, what we have observed is a tight correlation,” Foursquare told WIRED.

Why is privacy so important to consumers?

For the most part, consumers are now completely aware of privacy and their control over it. They know it’s up to them whether or not they share their data with a particular brand. The only way to win is to accept this and collect data from consumers who want to share with you; this is done through relationship-building and the collection of first-party data.

First-party data (and how to use it)

Again, a foundation of first-party data is the key to surviving the impending cookie challenges. Here are some ways to do this:

Website and apps: These vehicles give data through vehicles such as offers and promotions. 

Testing: Data quality tests and having the right data partners are everything. 

Data append partners: Data append partners help brands collect information they don’t have themselves such as email addresses and other information. 

Social media: Social media gives you a bird’s eye view of what your customers are actually thinking and helps you acquire new customers (and keep in touch with old ones.) Some types of data that social media gives insights on includes polling and transactional data.

E-Commerce platforms: E-commerce platforms give a plethora of data such as transactional and sales data. 

Email campaigns: Email campaigns are not only very effective, but help you gather data about your customers and their needs.

Third-party cookies are going away. Yes, that is scary. But if you prepare a contingency plan ahead of time, your brand and its reputation will thank you for it. 

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