Data Science
Aug 9, 2021

The Future of Marketing is Changing, and We’ll Have Relearn to Adapt

Tori Stroup

Image courtesy of Pexels.  

In 2020, Google made an announcement that rocked the marketing analytics world: they’re planning to phase out third-party cookies. On top of that, they would not be creating any alternative identifiers to track individuals as they browse the web.

This announcement sent both advertising and marketing teams at companies big and small and across all industries scrambling.

They were left to question how they would execute, track, and measure their advertising efforts. Not only does this impact monitoring the performance of campaigns, but it also has implications for future planning and budgeting considerations.

We quickly realized how reliant we are on the data we receive from cookies, and without a solution in sight, many began to panic.

Luckily, Google has decided to push back the rollout of this initiative until 2023, giving companies room to breathe.

But that doesn’t mean you can ignore the writing on the wall. Cookie changes are coming, and if these changes impact your business, you should be looking for new ways to report data.

In this article, we’ll provide you with just that. Here’s a quick overview of the ways to rethink your marketing efforts that will be covered in this article:

  • Leverage the first-party data you already have
  • Bring back your contextual targeting strategy
  • Shift towards customer-centric marketing practices
  • Tap into the world of data science

What the Death of Cookies Means for You

The most significant factor is that you will no longer have the ability to purchase web ads targeted towards individual users based on their web browsing habits.

But it goes beyond simply losing the ability to purchase targeted web ads. Cookies provide invaluable insights for companies to understand the website users frequently, where they’re at in their purchasing journey, what products they may have previously purchased, and so much more.

Losing this capability will have implications on how you report on campaigns, plan future marketing efforts, and allocate your budget for digital ads.

This change is capturing the attention of marketing and advertising teams. In fact, according to Sitecore “7 out of 10 marketers see the death of 3-party cookies as more impactful than both the CDPR and CCPA.”

There are many areas you’ll feel the impact of these changes, but here are a few of the areas you can expect to be affected by the upcoming cookie changes:

  • Cross-site retargeting
  • The programmatic market
  • Campaign delivery and web analytics
  • Fraud detection

But this shift in data collection isn’t all bad.

Relying solely on third-party cookies means that you’re putting all of your eggs into a bucket that might not be syncing up properly across the ad ecosystem. This means that you might be missing crucial puzzle pieces to providing your customers with the right content.

The results? Irrelevant content is no longer necessary for the user based on where they stand in the purchasing journey. Serving up too much unnecessary content can annoy and deter users from engaging with your ads.

The good news here is that you now have time to start to plan and adjust your digital marketing strategy to prepare for these upcoming changes and find ways to make your ads more relevant to your customers’ needs -- all without the need for third-party cookies.

In a way, you’ll need to relearn how to market to your customers via web advertising -- but don’t be discouraged. There are plenty of other opportunities out there.

How Will This Impact Your Omnichannel Marketing Efforts?

You might be worried about how these new changes will impact your omnichannel marketing experience -- and it’s a good question.

While your omnichannel marketing strategy most likely incorporates other channels such as email, on-site advertising, social media, and other outlets -- retargeting and digital ads are most likely a large part of it.

Once Google completely phases out third-party cookie tracking, this will significantly impact your omnichannel marketing strategy. But don’t totally write out omnichannel marketing just because this change is coming.

There are a variety of different ways that you can leverage the data you have to fill the gap presented with this new data shift -- you just have to start to relearn how to understand data and use that to market to your audiences.

Ways to Rethink Marketing and Prepare for This New Era

So now that you know this change is looming, what steps can you take to relearn how you approach marketing?

If your business relies heavily on cross-site tracking and third-party cookie collection, then you’ve got a long road ahead of you. For other companies, it might not be quite as big of a leap.

The good news is that there are a few other data streams that already exist that can help to fill the third-party cookie void. While it may take some adjusting to learn how to use them, extract the data you need, and implement marketing strategies with that insight -- it’s not impossible.

Choosing to take the leap and start shifting how you look at marketing now will see your company up for success in the coming years.

Leverage The First-Party Data You Already Have

Even without the help of third-party cookies, you’re likely already collecting tons of customer data on your own. And as third-party data becomes obsolete, you’ll first want to turn to the data you currently have at hand.

There are three kinds of data you can tap into -- first-party, second-party, and third-party. This section will focus on how first-party data can help you identify new ways to reach your audiences.

Understanding the different types of data will help you identify new opportunities on how to market to your audiences. First-party data is a powerful tool that can help to fill the void that losing third-party cookies creates. Image courtesy of Merkle.

The information you collect directly from your audience is considered first-party data. First-party data can be collected from a variety of different channels including:

  • The behaviors, actions, and interests of users on your website and app
  • Data you already have in your CRM system
  • Subscription data
  • Social date
  • Customer surveys and feedback

Leveraging this information will allow you to better understand how people are iterating with your brand and create targeted ads across platforms. You can identify common traits, trends, and other tendencies that will allow you to identify how and where to put your marketing efforts.

One key factor when it comes to using first-party data is that you need to continuously be collecting more insights to understand the changing needs of your audiences. You’ll also want to actively work to grow your subscriber list to continue reaching new prospects.

Bring Back Your Contextual Targeting Strategy

If you’ve been in the advertising industry for a while, this one might feel a little like deja vu, but you read that title right. Contextual targeting is making its way back into our lives and might just be the thing you need to solve all of your third-party cookie problems (or at least one of the things).

Contextual targeting is displaying ads to users based on the content of the page they are currently browsing. An example of contextual targeting would be placing an advertisement for dishware on a recipe site.

Contextual targeting is a more straightforward form of retargeting, but rather than use third-party data to identify your customers’ interests, you’re using the actual context of the website.

Contextual marketing looks a lot like retargeting but without the need to leverage third-party. It tracks how your customers are behaving on your website and then uses that data to identify relevant topics and keywords on other relevant sites to determine where to share the content. Image courtesy of Tango Multimedia.

These ads target and serve users based on specific segments and parameters like keywords and website topics. Once someone visits your site, you can learn their interests and then initiate these contextual marketing efforts to bring them back down the road.

One of the downfalls of contextual targeting is that it requires more time commitment than what you’re used to with Google.

But using this type of targeting will provide users with content that is more relevant to their interests and current needs. This means that the ads will be relevant to the user’s current situation and hopefully entice them to click your website.

Shift Towards Customer-Centric Marketing Practices

When it comes down to it, the success of your marketing campaigns is reliant on the experience of your customers.

Moving towards a customer-centric marketing strategy will provide you with a variety of benefits. From improving customer retention numbers to better understanding the value of each customer, you’ll gain insights into it all. Image courtesy of Opinion Stage.

Shoppers no longer base their loyalty on price or product. In today’s environment, their experience has a much more significant impact. That means that someone who has a positive experience with your brand is much more likely to become a repeat customer and recommend your products to a friend or family member.

On top of that, you’ll gain valuable insights, including:

  • Understanding what happens throughout the entire customer journey
  • Identify where your customers need additional support in their purchasing decision
  • Find new opportunities to support and engage with your new customers
  • Recognize and respond to changing customer needs in real-time

Shifting from using third-party data provides you with an opportunity to provide your customers with a more authentic experience based on their real-time interactions and behaviors.

You can target their needs based on how they’re interacting with your brand. Meaning you’ll be able to provide them with more relevant product recommendations, share upcoming events based on location, and so much more.

Adopting a customer-centric point of view will help you understand new ways to use the insights you already have. Real-time, accurate data will always prove to be the most valuable asset you have when serving your audiences relevant advertisements.

With these upcoming changes looming,  now’s the perfect time to make the shift towards integrating more customer-centric marketing practices into your current strategy.

Tap Into the World of Data Science

As defined by DataRobot, “data science combines domain expertise, programming skills, and knowledge of mathematics and statics to extract meaningful insights from data.”

While marketing and data science are two completely different areas of interest, there is a crossover that you can’t ignore. By bringing these two specialties together, you can better visualize, ask better questions, and build more complete stories with the data you have on hand. Image courtesy of Marketing Consultant.

The idea of using data science to understand more about who your customers are and project future company needs is still catching on -- but it presents a huge opportunity for companies who make the investment.

Not only can data science help you fill the gap in understanding who your customers are, but it can also provide you with insights far beyond that. Here are just a few examples of practical ways to use data science in marketing:

  • Optimizing your marketing budget
  • Targeting the right audiences
  • Identifying the proper channels to connect with customers on
  • Improving lead targeting and scoring capabilities
  • Gathering customer persona and profile details
  • Performing sentiment analysis

The crossover of data science and marketing is only just beginning to be explored, but the possibilities that are present are endless. Expect to see more and more companies adopt data science technology.

Prepare Your Company for Success as the Cookie Era Ends

As we approach the end of the cookie era, now’s the time to start developing an action plan.

Don’t find yourself scrambling at the last minute.

By taking the steps to find new and innovative ways to market to your customers, you can set yourself ahead of the competition. This can all be accomplished with the help of first-party data, contextual targeting, a customer-centric mindset, and delving into the world of data science.

It may seem like you have plenty of time before Google eliminates third-party cookies, but before you know it 2023 will be here -- will you be prepared?