Almost 4 years ago, Google had just made a major announcement on its plans to phase out 3rd party cookies in Google Chrome by 2022. It was an extremely hot topic and advertisers, AdTech/MarTech practitioners and vendors alike were speculating what ramifications it would have and what the solutions would be.
There was some scepticism in the industry on whether the timeframes were realistic, and this was subsequently proved correct, with the postponing of the initiative two times. However it seems Google is getting off to a good start with its new year’s resolutions this year, because on January 4th 2024, Chrome followed through with its plans to restrict third party cookies for 1% of chrome browsers in anticipation of a full rollout by H2 2024. This initial user group consists of approximately 32 million users/installs of the mind-blowing 3.2 million chrome profile globally.
This marks another important milestone in the move towards more robust data privacy and transparency that consumers and legislators are increasingly demanding and that companies such as Google and Apple are adopting. Safari and Firefox already stopped using third party cookies a number of years ago, and we know that since ATT, in-app advertising has changed dramatically. And this is not to forget about GDPR, CCPA and other regional privacy legislations impacting consumer privacy and data collection.
None of this is new information really, but this latest move forwards to the long-awaited cookie-less, privacy-centric future should act as another reminder to digital marketers to get prepared for what is to come if it hasn’t been done already.
(Re) Preparing with a 1st Party Data Strategy
The best times to get your 1st party data strategy in order was years ago, followed by yesterday, and then today. It has become imperative for marketers to understand what this new age of data privacy means in practice and to have an appreciation of how important 1st party data will be going forward
Many of the features and tactics we have relied upon as markers are ceasing to work as we know it – we will lose precision in tracking and targeting, analytics and measurement without high quality 1st party data. Not to forget, we will need to place an increased focus and level of attention to consent management and data compliance.
Things are and will continue to change, however getting your 1st party data in place is something that should be a huge priority and is in the control of the advertiser still. To mitigate any further data loss and to increase performance of marketing campaigns, act now if you haven’t already.
Why is it critical?
First Party data offers direct insights into customer behaviors, preferences, and intentions which we can use to leverage personalised campaigns to enhance customer experiences and foster long term relationships – exactly what we want as marketers. Also, while you are on the topic, consider how you can better collect and manage your zero party data (another nice buzzword with origins around 4 ago ago). If consumers have been becoming more privacy conscious over the years, but still want the best experience, consider how you can get the most tailored and personalised communications and offers to them by proactively engaging with them for their input via surveys, feedback forms and explicit preferences.
1st Party Data Strategy – Considerations
So what should we do, or how do we start? The first part of the process and top priority, should be to audit your existing set up. Indeed, this can apply to those companies that have been preparing for years also, to ensure your tracking implementation and data collection processes and tools are still well configured and pipelines solid (where applicable). From there, once you have an understanding of where you are, you can enhance your data collection and start garnering insights.
From an organisational perspective, you will also need to ensure that staff have appropriate tooling to collect, manage, maintain and activate the data and that the right people have access to the right data once you do have it. A comprehensive list of all the considerations and requirements is a blog for another day but consider these two high level concepts to get started.
The changes that are to come this year and no doubt in the future, are exciting times. Advertisers and consumers have an opportunity to build stronger relationships based on trust with the privacy and cookies-less future. With customers knowing that technology vendors and legislators are managing their data securely, they are more likely to give over their information in a data exchange if it benefits their experience - with both brands and customer alike winning.
So do not fear the demise of the cookie – instead, embrace the rise of your 1st party data