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The exit of third-party cookies:

Your new guide to a new data strategy

Dec 4, 2023 | Ungated Guides

91%

of customers are more likely to shop with brands who recognize, remember and provide them with relevant offers and recommendations.

Introduction

Customers have come to expect consistent, personalized experiences no matter where they interact with your brand – whether on the website, in the physical store, or in an app. As a business, you need to be present, relevant, and consistent if you want to keep your customers’ attention.

Personalization can be called the hygiene factor:
Customers take it for granted, but if the retailer gets it wrong, customers may depart for a competitor.

The end of third-party cookies is near

Data is where customer experience begins and ends. For years, companies gave little concern to guard users’ data. These have been kept in the dark while companies quietly collected personal data they had no immediate use for, causing a massive drop in customer trust and overall experience.

However, recent years privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA have caused a shift in how data should be acquired and protected.

Now, companies like Apple and Google are using privacy as a marketing tool

Which browser is the best to protect users’ data?
Who should the customer choose as their favorite browser?

As a result, third-party data no longer live up to these recent privacy requirements.

 

…The privacy movement has begun.

In 2021, Google added the final nail to the coffin as they announced, that after 2023 they will pull the plug and stop building alternative identifiers to track individuals across the web. This changes the digital marketing landscape completely – which is why your data strategy should too.

81%

of customers say that trusting a brand is a deciding factor in their purchase decision

What does it mean that third-party cookies disappear?

Have you ever Googled a pair of shoes and then been confronted with the same pair the next time you read a news article online? While you would never expect to be followed around in the physical shoe-store by someone taking notes on every item you check out, for how long, and the detours you take before you end at the register, this is what happens all the time in the digital world.

Third-party cookies are tracking codes set by domains other than the one the visitor (in this case, the shoe shopper) is currently visiting. So, when you leave the website you initially visited to buy a new pair of Adidas Originals Superstar the sneakers will tag along in the form of retargeted ads or other content in ad format.

The phase-out of third-party cookies means that you, as a company owner, someone working in marketing or within an advertisement company, will lose the ability to track visitors’ behavior across domains. Your ability to collect data will be limited to your website’s walled garden, which won’t be shared with anyone. Tracking your ads’ performance and metrics, such as what the visitor clicked on and where, outside of this garden, will decline.

As you well know, performance measurement is fundamental to any marketing activity as it enables you to plan, budget, and report back on campaigns.

Removing third-party cookies will impair anyone and everyone working in digital marketing and their ability to attribute ROAS across domains from third-party tracking. That is unless you start navigating towards collecting first-party data.

Marketer

%

Attribution for ad spend when traffic without third-party cookies drop

Marketing Manager

%

Return on Ad Spending (ROAS) will fall as KPIs fail to be met

CMO

%

Loss of budget over time as less is spent on ads

CEO

%

Revenue loss over time

Who cares what Google Chrome does?

Google Chrome accounts for 69,80% of the global market share. So even though this browser waited the longest to join the privacy-first movement, their impact on campaigns, attribution, and metrics will matter the most. Safari and Firefox, the world’s second and third most popular web browsers, already block third party cookies by default to protect users’ privacy.

So, however groundbreaking it might seem – Google Chrome announcing it will follow suit in 2023 – did not come as a complete surprise to marketers. As a result, almost no one will be left using a browser that supports thirdparty tracking, making it effectively extinct.

Privacy-protection is everywhere

Apple’s recent IOS 15 update includes Mail Privacy Protection which impedes marketers from using tracking pixels to collect information about users’ open rates in e-mail. This protects users from marketers knowing when they opened an e-mail along with masking their IP-address. This is another important step towards a more privacy-preserving future.

Chrome

%

Safari

%

Edge

%

Firefox

%

Samsung Internet

%

Opera

%

Browser Market Share – March 2023

Cookies were messy anyway

Are you already panicking and have you started to imagine all your cookiefueled tracking methods go down the digital drain? Hold on!

No one has declared an end to advertisement or performance tracking altogether. However, continuing to allow digital marketing strategies through un-consented retargeting ads has run its course.

While you might be conflicted between purely business and personal interests, few would argue that more strict privacy protection is a bad thing. More likely, it’s a way to re-earn customers’ trust and win back their fated loyalty as you start to target relevant people with relevant content.

Remember this; for a long time, customer experience has paid a high price for ads that were either irrelevant or annoying.

Privacy-protection is everywhere

Apple’s recent IOS 15 update includes Mail Privacy Protection which impedes marketers from using tracking pixels to collect information about users’ open rates in e-mail. This protects users from marketers knowing when they opened an e-mail along with masking their IP-address. This is another important step towards a more privacy-preserving future.

26%

of internet users are using ad blockers
on their browsers

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With the exit of third-party cookies we are reminded that we should behave ethically in front of customers. Removing tracking cookies is a wake-up call for product owners, advertisers, digital marketers, basically anybody in the digital world: We should always aim for a closer relation with our customers instead of attacking them with irrelevant content.

Anders Spicker
Director, Omnichannel Excellence, Raptor Service

4 reasons why the (third) party is over!

1

A global study on customer experience found that only 54% of people worldwide trust brands to keep their data safe. 73% believe their use of personal data online is “out of control”. Such trust-issues can be attributed to many factors, however, ad tracking across sites play a big part in loosing customers’ interest.

In a 2017 study, an ad-serving company analyzed 20 advertisers and found that 64% of their tracking cookies were either blocked or deleted by web browsers. Because of this, advertisers can be throwing away half of their budgets on missed opportunities by not reaching potential customers and/or spending budget on unneccessary impressions to people who were never going to convert or buy anyway.

2

2

In a 2017 study, an ad-serving company analyzed 20 advertisers and found that 64% of their tracking cookies were either blocked or deleted by web browsers. Because of this, advertisers can be throwing away half of their budgets on missed opportunities by not reaching potential customers and/or spending budget on unneccessary impressions to people who were never going to convert or buy anyway.

3

Cookies are device-based, which means you are left in the dark when visitors go from desktop to mobile or switch between computers and browsers. The effect? A demolition of the omnichannel customer journey reflecting how modern customers engage, buy and relate to your service or product.

Third-party cookies are short-lived. Some third-party cookies only live minutes or hours or might even die as soon as the browser window is down. In other words: It is difficult to track your performance in media buying and planning and conclude on the performance from your marketing activities – not impossible, but more complicated.

4

4

Third-party cookies are short-lived. Some third-party cookies only live minutes or hours or might even die as soon as the browser window is down. In other words: It is difficult to track your performance in media buying and planning and conclude on the performance from your marketing activities – not impossible, but more complicated.

5 cookie stats no one can argue

2021 marks a breaking-point for the transformation from third to first-party data.
Here is why you should move away from third-party dependent strategies as soon as possible.
The statistics speak for themselves:

%

are very/somewhat concerned about how their data is used

%

feel that they are being tracked online by advertisers that use third-party cookies

%

of customers experience a loss in control over their data

%

say that trusting a brand is a deciding factor in their purchase decision

%

factor a company’s ability to keep their information safe

First-party: the only alternative

Now more than ever, it matters how and where you get your data. That is why understanding the difference between first and third-party cookie tracking is critical to mastering your data strategy.

What is first-party data?

First-party data is the information you collect directly from visitors’ or customers’ activities on your own domain. The data lets you know all about visitors’ activities on your site and how they engage with your products:

Do they put items in a shopping basket?
Search for products in the search bar?
Click around on different products, landing pages or sign up for a loyalty club?

All data collected from your website is intel-strings about your customers’ behavior. You have access to this data through consent. Instead of matching cookies across the ad ecosystem, first-party cookies rely on what the customer has permitted you to use. Website owners create first-party cookies for analytical purposes, remember site settings, and track performance.
First-party cookies can only “be read” by the domain that sets them and are – unlike their third-party counterpart – not readable for users navigating to other sites.

1st party data

3rd party data

Not all cookies are the same

Essentially, cookies are pieces of code saved by websites onto a user’s web browser. Not all cookies are the same. Some are downright essential for web pages to function correctly, while others only serve marketing and advertisement purposes.

First-party cookies

What is it?

Data your company collects from your own domain(s) and from direct interaction with the customers or visitors.
First-party cookies enrich the identitydata you have collected.

Why do i need it?

First-party data is the backbone of understanding your customers’ activities and experience on your site: clicks on-site, abandon basket, most popular products, etc. First-party cookies are pivotal to the personalization of customer experience.

Third-party cookies

What is it?

Data collected by an organization that doesn’t have a direct link or relation to the customer. You probably recognize them as the ads that follow you from page to page after visiting a webshop.

Why do i need it?

Third-party cookies allow you to learn about your visitors’ online behavior and can provide targeted data to improve campaigns. With this data, you can still, at this point, build profiles and gather these into audiences to retarget users across domains.

Session cookies

What is it?

Session cookies are server-specific cookies containing information about the user, such as login credentials, site preferences, etc.

Why do i need it?

Session cookies are critical for the website to work correctly. They usually expire after the web session ends. Without session cookies, e-commerce websites would not remember a product placed in the basket before the user checks out.

Persistent cookies

What is it?

Persistent cookies can be stored on a user’s device for years to help remember information, settings, preferences, or sign-in data that a user has previously saved.

Why do i need it?

When users visit a website, these choices are saved and can help the user experience. Gmail, as an example, remembers your passwords and e-mail address long after closing the tabs and turning off your computer.

Personalization and privacy
– go hand in hand

First-party data is about building relationships with the customers to the degree that justifies the exchange of data. In a world where individuals can sue companies for mishandling data, companies will want to ensure that the data they are using is relevant, necessary, and above all justifiable in terms of privacy permissions. By creating customer loyalty programs and campaigns centered around enriching customer experience through firstparty data, companies ensure that privacy and personalization go hand in hand. This is often made possible with a Customer Data Platform (CDP), where an end-to-end data supply chain is maintained and focuses on ingesting, unifying, and activating customer data correctly.

40%

of executives say that personalization has had a direct impact on maximizing sales, basket size & profits in customer channels, Forbes

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With tools and technologies that rely on first-party data, such as e-mail addresses, tokens, user-IDs, device-ID, phone numbers, etc., your team can rebuild lost insights from the third-party cookies they will soon loose. The use of first-party data respects and reflects customers’ need for privacy

Anders Spicker
Director, Omnichannel Excellence, Raptor Service

How Shoe-d-vision increased their revenue with 13% using
personalization

When Shoe-d-vision activated their Raptor CDP, they collected data and built actionable audiences from all customer touchpoints. They engaged their e-mail platform combined with Raptor’s personalization services on their owned and paid media channels. increase in mobile conversions Together with the CDP, they ensured that the first-party data was ingested into the “engine” and enriched the Audiences that would help personalize their dynamic advertising campaigns. This increased their mobile conversions with 23%.

23%

increase in mobile conversions

Customer data:
How do you get it?

The exit of third-party cookies reveals a paradigm shift in which customers need to understand why they give marketers and ad companies their data.

Rather than this happening blindfolded, Consent Management is a seen as a new engagement-journey running parallel with customer experience.

Combining a Customer Data Platform with a Consent Management Platform allows personalization and advertisement to come together and activate data that ultimately lead customers to trust your brand even more.

Deciding which data strategy works best for your company is more than anything a matter of resources. However, changing your strategy is unavoidable if you want to prevent hitting the wall in 2023, where advertisement as we know it stops.

Different data routes lead to different results. However, most of them start with preserving the data you have and considering alternative collecting methods for identifying customers.

83%

of users would exchange
data for a more personalized
experience, Accenture

The majority of customers consider data protection as something the companies must do, and they are willing to ask for compensation and will lose loyalty to the brand after a data breach. EY

3 phases for surviving in a crumbling cookie world

We have made a step-by-step approach to deal with the issue of collecting and managing data. Finding the way forward and renewing your data strategy is paramount to your survival when cookies become less. Overall, we realize the two most significant challenges in the digital future that lies ahead:

The first is the technological limitations of limited third-party tracking.

The other is the political and governmental regulations (GDPR and CCPA) forcing change to protect users’ privacy.

This illustrative model from Google shows the relative amount of tracked
customer data either being lost or preserved depending on whether measures
are taken in advance or not. No tools adopted past 2023 mean a significant
drop in user data (Lost).

Phase 1:

Measurement is the only way to preserve

The three following steps propose how you can continue to measure your performance and making the most of the data you already have in a post cookie world. We start by looking at the first steps from a technological standpoint.

Step 1. Technical solutions

Server-side tracking

Server-side tracking is the best option for ensuring you remain in control over your data as you are the only one with access. Server-side data is not blocked by browsers, since you only collect the data directly from the code that serves the website. From the server, you push the data onto the relevant channels, which bypasses the browser.

By implementing server-side tracking, you can measure how many people are visiting your website and their interests; however, this is not a tool for targeting. If you want to target users with relevant content, you still need to know who they are, on a known ID on the platforms being used. The server does not have that information. The browser does, but as we have just discovered, blockers prevent it from sharing that information.

How to?

To make server-side tracking work, you need to move measurement tag instrumentation from your website or app into server-side processing via Google Tag Manager. You need to then recreate your tag setup through templates or coding. Server-side tagging is not only more secure but will also improve performance as there are fewer tags on the website or app, which means less code to run clientside. Facebook Conversion API is a business tool that lets you share key web and offline events, or customer activities, directly from your server to Facebook’s. This is also a technical step allowing you to improve performance and measurements of campaigns.

Step 2: Privacy-preserving

Consent Mode

Another important step for working with preserving data is Google’s newly developed “Consent mode”. With Consent Mode, your website can access vital insights about its performance even when users do not accept cookies. Consent Mode is a grey area for Google. However, all insights and stats are anonymized and rely on users who have granted access to data. Consent mode allows you to preserve conversion measurement in a GDPRfriendly way through Google Analytics.

Step 3. Facebook AEM

Along with Consent Mode, you will find Facebook’s Aggregated Event Measurement (AEM), which allows for measuring web events from iOS 14 users. This solution limits domains to eight conversion events that can be prioritized and ranked according to how well they optimize conversion rates.

How to:

If you want to enable AEM, you will need to update your Facebook pixel events in Facebook Business Manager.

Phase 2:

Get relevant

In the second phase we dive into how you engage current and new customers. Because if data is blocked, what alternatives do you have to remain relevant in your marketing campaigns?

Step 4. Back to basics: Contextual Marketing

Contextual marketing is a strategy guided by relevancy:
All content must be relevant to the person receiving it. Contextual marketing is not only a pillar within inbound marketing but is also one of the most customer experience-friendly marketing strategies out there. Take, for example, an ad for hiking shoes in a news article about great trekking destinations in Norway – it just makes more sense. Contextual marketing is the opposite of retargeting ads, potentially placed on sites irrelevant to the customers’ search. Additionally, contextual marketing helps advertisers build a stronger relationship between readers and their brand since the relevance is high.

Step 5. Google’s own groups: FLoC

Maybe you have heard the buzz about Google’s own proposed groups as privacy-preserving alternatives for reaching relevant audiences. Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) group people in anonymous cohorts based on their similar interests. Any advertisement you as a private user would receive comes from your association with this group. At this time of writing, FLoC is not even in beta yet, which means we lack evaluations of how this works and any related issues. The plan is to integrate FLoC as a browser standard that can enable interest-based advertising on the web without the need for users to identify themselves.

Step 6. Ask for data

Because your survival in a cookieless world depends on your ability to identify users, you need to learn how to ask for customer data. Whether or not you collect any depends on your ability to emphasize the value exchange – make it obvious what the customer gets in return for insights about their behavior, habits, choice of products, and other online activities. For instance, it might make sense for users to give you their e-mail, Token ID, or even mobile number if they, in return, get free shipping, valuable content or access to loyalty programs when they know their data is taken care of. Tomorrow’s data strategy is not only about settling with less and finding more quality data. It is also about understanding its worth and playing ball with customers when their demand for extra attention rises as they provide you with their personal information.

%

think they know what consumer product companies best protect their personal information.

%

agreed they’d be willing to share their data if there was a clear benefit to them.

%

of audiences say they’re more likely to purchase from companies they believe protect their personal information.

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This step probably requires the most effort. There is no plug’n’play solution but rather a consistent customer strategy that relies on trust, loyalty and your ability to make the customer feel in good hands when leaving their personal data on your digital platform

Anders Spicker
Director, Omnichannel Excellence, Raptor Service

4 ways to ask for data

Premium Content:

Most customers would be willing to give their e-mail address to become part of your club. Consider setting up free trials, pay-walls, customer groups, or other types of content only accessed through a log-in. Club Matas is an excellent example of a Danish community enriching customer experience by providing beauty-related content in exchange for data such as product preferences, lifestyle choices, phone number, transaction data, etc.

Send free samples:

Shopping for curtains could mean sending free samples of fabrics for the customer to choose from at home. The service is relatively small but has a high value to the customer. In return, you get their e-mail address and create an incentive for the customer to choose your products.

The Freemium Model:

Create motivation for the customer to gradually become more involved by making part of your product available for free in exchange for an e-mail address. Like a training program where basic exercises are free and more advanced, technical skills, or an online, personal trainer requires a monthly subscription. The customer will see the worth of your product and, at some point, take the next step.

Referral program:

Give existing users an advantage when they refer your product to their friends. Goodiebox runs a successful referral program: Every time an existing customer sends a referral to someone who is not already a Goodiebox-customer, the referee collects points. More than 250 points give you a Goodiebox for free. A referral program is ideal for creating a snowball effect by letting your customers advertise for you.

Shoe-d-vision increased their CTR by 92 % by using Raptor’s CDP

Turning customers into brand loyalists is about creating a consistent customer loyalty strategy. One that will make customers buy from you over and over again. Shoed-vision increased their CTR on e-mail campaigns by 92% in just one year by building personalized campaigns from audiences made within the CDP. People who had visited their website and engaged with content would receive relevant offers matching their online activities.

Phase 3:

Connect data across platforms

Step 7. Stitch data in order to identify

The shift in digital marketing requires companies to be able to activate their customer data and take total ownership of their customers’ buyers journey. To identify users, you need a setup, such as a CDP, that stitches customer Ids to the e-mail address you asked for in step 6. The CDP links data to the customer profile due to data stitching, which creates a profile unification that can be tied across channels and platforms. This way, data is made accessible and applies to privacyprotection requirements.

First-party data come from various sources, such as cookies, e-mail addresses, token Ids, Phone numbers, demographic data. All this information is ingested and stored as one customer/individual, which provides a Single Customer View.

There exists many options for CDPs – some are build on Google Cloud, Microsoft or Amazon. Others like Raptor’s CDP is customized to each individual customer. The software you ultimately choose will have to reflect your business’ needs. However, you need to keep in mind that the platform you choose should allow you to stitch a significant amount of customer data together within the customer group. You can end up paying more for less by selecting a vendor that only allows the stitching of a small amount of customer data.

Step 8. Personalization is the way to keep customers engaged

However you decide to attack a world where user data becomes more and more protected comes down to your data strategy. One of the payoffs with fewer but more qualified data is ensuring personalization and enrichment of customer experience across platforms.

A Customer Data Platform is a single operational platform that empowers you to unify all your customer touchpoints from every data source and make the data available to all activation channels in your tech stack. Break down data silos to bring together customer data spread across all your different systems to achieve a Single Customer View of each of your individual customers. With a complete 360° view of all your customers, you can target the right audience at the right time with the right message.

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A CDP allows you to stitch data together to create better insights about the customer along with increasing the customer experience significantly. You need to choose a technology that works across IDs and is able to stitch as great an amount of customer data within the customer group as possible

Anders Spicker
Director, Omnichannel Excellence, Raptor Service

Going forward:
Tech setup & identification

First, you need to apply technological and privacy preserving tools such as Server-side tracking, Facebook Conversion API, Consent mode, and AEM as measurement steps to track performance on your website.

Secondly, you need a platform that allows you to stitch user data together and create a longer lifetime value through personalized content on all channels in your tech stack. It becomes paramount to identify users and customers and make their visits relevant to their behavior in the near future.

In the online world, we are becoming dependent on walled gardens and first-party data. Google and Facebook have their own, and they are offering these as solutions to the cookieless future ahead. However, you don’t want to be relying on their solutions entirely. You need to be able to collect the data on your own and reach customers from your platform to increase market performance and keep a competitive advantage with your customer data in the center.

Changing your data strategy means a future where you respect privacy privileges and target your customers from a standpoint that recognizes this as an opportunity rather than a limitation weighing your business down.

“If you want true
data freedom, you’ll
need to create your
own reservoir.”
dept

Back to what we know and appreciate

While you might consider personalization as a costly and unnecessary path to follow, your ROI will ultimately be affected by whether you go down this path or not. Without third-party cookies, content and context will be king. The time is now to invest in creating relevant content and stitching this to a platform that sacralizes personal data and credits customers willingness to engage. Companies need to spot that the disappearance of third-party cookies may leave a void and a feeling of panic. Still, it also forces us to follow a different path and start embracing a new era in which customer data lives longer and requires more loyalty-focused content. The time is right for meaningful and personalized interaction that focuses on securing users’ privacy privileges.

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