People have made it clear that they want two things from their online experiences: a high degree of personalization and an equally high degree of privacy.
Can those expectations coexist in a future without third-party cookies?
Yes. But your business will have to double-down on obtaining first-party data through its owned marketing channels.
Taking control of your owned media and forming an owned media strategy will help your organization transition more smoothly into the coming "cookieless" world. I'm referring, of course, to Google's complete elimination of third-party cookie use by 2024.
Although the date has been pushed back a couple of times, sooner or later you will not be able to depend on third-party data to inform your marketing and advertising initiatives.
From a practical standpoint, that means you'll have to engage in other methods to target and convert leads. Because you won't be able to rely on individual-visitor cookies obtained through third parties, you'll have to get creative.
And that's where your owned marketing channels come in.
What Is Owned Media?
Owned marketing channels include any sites that you control. For instance, your corporate website falls under the category of owned media because you choose the content displayed there. You never have to worry that your brand will be tarnished by a third party's questionable content. You're in the driver's seat, and that allows you to get all the benefits of owned media and incur none of the risks associated with putting all your eggs into the third-party data basket.
The Benefits of Owned Marketing Channels
Although it might seem jarring to think of adjusting your marketing strategy to put more emphasis on owned media, the shift has plenty of upsides.
For one, you won't be as reliant on fluctuating third-party-site advertising costs. You can move more of your budget into your owned marketing channels.
Make no mistake: Costs have been rising on third-party sites. When LinkedIn advertising first came out, it was fairly affordable. Your company could advertise on LinkedIn to specific audiences without breaking the bank. Over time, ad rates rose steeply, making it more expensive to remain competitive.
The second advantage of concentrating on owned media is that you'll know you're using accurate data that your team sourced. You can never be sure that the metrics you're receiving from a third party are 100% accurate. Facebook's recent ad data woes prove how unreliable others' data can be. Unless you're controlling the platform, you can't control the cleanliness of the data you possess.
A final benefit of putting more emphasis on first-party data obtained through owned media was mentioned earlier: Your brand will never be associated with content you disapprove of. Having your brand associated with something like hate speech can be pricey. That's why so many well-known and well-respected advertisers are fleeing Twitter. They no longer trust that their brand image is safe on the platform. Therefore, they're taking no chances.
Developing a Robust Owned Media Strategy
Because of the many advantages of being associated with building and deploying an owned media strategy, you'll want to start to develop yours today.
You can begin by taking a look at your owned marketing channels' editorial calendar. Having the right type and cadence of content will prepare you for a cookieless future.
As your content reaches your preferred audiences, those audience members will be encouraged to interact with your brand. When they do, their journey on your owned media sites will be trackable through your analytics software. You can then use that data to fuel personalized engagements that increase conversions and boost sales.
But which of your owned media content deserves your attention first?
1. Blog Content
Your blog is probably the most important place for you to consistently glean first-party visitor data.
Map out your content creation so it allows you to publish a high-quality article, video, or other creative piece at least once a week. Consistency and patience are key elements of maintaining a professional blogging presence.
Moreover, your blog is a big part of your SEO efforts, which is another facet of your marketing strategy that you can somewhat control.
You'll be collecting email addresses as part of your owned marketing initiatives. Make the best use of those emails by creating a phenomenal newsletter.
Your newsletter should contain essential nuggets and insights. You want recipients to look forward to seeing it in their inbox to keep your open rates—and call-to-action clickthrough rates—as high as you can.
3. webinars and Other online events
Webinars and other online events present opportunities for you to interact with audiences. The back-and-forth (rather than one-way) nature of the experiences makes them excellent vehicles for collecting first-party information. Just make sure your content is educational and unique. Attendees appreciate it when you share your "secret sauce."
4. Gated Content
Gated content can be retrieved only after someone provides contact information. Typically, gated content is stored behind a landing page. Your strategic editorial calendar shouldn't ignore gated content. The visitor data you glean from it can help bump up your email lists, and it can be handed over to your sales team members for further effect.
* * *
Until now, your marketing efforts might have leaned hard in the direction of paid media, such as Facebook and Google ads.
Truth be told, you shouldn't do away with third-party channel advertising altogether, even when third-party cookies go by the wayside. However, you can expect to change the weight you give each type of content that flows out of your marketing department. Think of it as your way of creating a more balanced content diet.
More Resources on Owned Media Strategy
Three Steps to a More Effective Converged Media Strategy
Owned, Paid, and Earned: The Social Media Trifecta [Infographic]
The Digital Pivot to Online Marketing: Eric Schwartzman on Marketing Smarts [Podcast]
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