Data has become the lifeblood of marketing, and there are changes on the horizon to how we can collect and use that data.
The most recent SAS Customer Advisory Board meeting highlighted data deprecation—specifically, the end of support for third-party cookies in Google's Chrome browser—as a major issue for marketers.
Losing those sources of customer information is a challenge for marketers. But we should view it as an unparalleled opportunity to reassess our marketing strategies.
Done correctly, the move from a reliance on third-party cookies to a greater emphasis on first-party data can reap great rewards, including better trust from our customers and more meaningful (and profitable) customer relationships.
Approaching Data Privacy With Purpose
Here are some things you can do, if you haven't already, to bolster your marketing program and data collection strategy.
1. Be transparent and create a value exchange
Explain to customers, clearly, everything you intend to do with the data they volunteer.
You want to present them, in real time, with offers that are relevant and valuable to them. Offer value for each interaction.
If you plan to anonymize customers' data for research and resale in a data clean room (more on that later), tell them so, and tell them clearly how their identity is protected and what the value is to them.
Establish trust; trust evolves into loyalty.
2. Build a complete customer identity
If your customer data platform (CDP) doesn't have tools for identity management and resolution, you are not getting the full picture of your customer across touchpoints.
For example, Robert J. Smith may have registered for an offer as Bob Smith in the point-of-sale database, or he may have purchased on Jim Smith's account. Robert may have also purchased as a guest (anonymous). Using identity management and resolution technologies, you can join all of that information together.
Pulling together such strands of identity gives a fuller, more useful customer profile. If your CDP doesn't have such resolution tools, look at third-party offerings to do the job.
3. Fill in the gaps
Third-party data may be sliding off the table, but second-party data can be valuable for filling in gaps in the customer picture.
Second-party data—collected by an organization, anonymized in walled gardens, and monetized in data clean rooms—can be integrated with your customer identity to give a more complete picture. Software tools, whether part of your customer data management environment or standalone offerings, can turn that data into a replacement for third-party cookies, with the advantage of better accuracy and specificity.
Second-party data and related analysis tools will continue to evolve, and marketers will need to remain agile and informed until a winning solution emerges.
One concept that is key to integrating second-party data is cohort modeling. A cohort is a sample population that is relevant to a specific line of inquiry. It is depersonalized but can aggregate users with similar behavior and attributes.
Google is experimenting with that technique in Topics (an replacement for its Federated Learning of Cohorts, or FLoC). Enabled browsers would be assigned cohort IDs to be shared with websites and advertisers to target finely defined segments rather than individual persons. Note, however, that the approach has received pushback from privacy advocates and resistance from other browser companies.
There's something of a land rush going on right now as cookies fade into obscurity; data collectors are doing their best to hoard what third-party data they can to repurpose as libraries of second-party data.
Again, remaining agile and informed will be key for all marketers.
4. Monetize zero- and first-party data
Many readers will have immediately deduced that if a second party can provide value to its efforts to build a customer identity, their own data repository can be monetized in the same way.
Like other second parties, that demands a secure walled garden of anonymized customer data that can be offered up in a data clean room. It also demands that marketers be absolutely transparent and up front about how that monetization works and how customer identity is insulated from third parties. Trust breeds loyalty.
Catching Up on Data Deprecation
For marketers whose data strategies may have fallen a step behind, or those who are dependent on third-party data, data deprecation is an opportunity to investigate emerging technologies that can help close the gap.
Tech Marketers should look into:
- Identity management. Software tools can connect the identities of your customers across touchpoints. They're included in many CDPs, such as SAS Customer Intelligence 360, and as standalone programs. An identity management solution should be able to accurately assign second-party data to your own customer identities to fill out the customer picture.
- Customer data platforms. Is your CDP future-ready? Many tools are relevant to your customer management strategie; make sure your platform accommodates those tools. Comprehensive platforms can manage all of your needs, but you can also take the modular approach—wherein third-party tools augment the basic platform. Regardless, your CDP needs a rugged and complete API library, to integrate new tools as they evolve.
- Data clean rooms. Examine the technology that allows you to anonymize and repurpose your valuable zero- and first-party data, not only for resale but also for a boost in the quality of your own customer identity programs.
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Third-party cookies, although they have some value, contribute to a certain passivity in marketing strategies. And customers have spoken: They find those cookies invasive, and they are concerned about privacy implications.
Strategies that go beyond that and make a genuine connection between customer needs and your offering, based on data customers have tacitly (or even explicitly) agreed to share, further cements your customer relationships, turning trust into loyalty and customers into brand advocates.
More Resources on the Deprecation of Third-Party Cookies
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