Will the personalization of the customer experience still be possible in a world without cookies?


One of the functions of cookies is to enable personalized online experiences. Will this still be possible in a world without third-party cookies? As part of our in-depth analysis of the data, Ruby Heera, director of client experience at Drum Network member agency Roast, says it will – and that new opportunities are on the way.

With the shift from third-party cookies to first-party data, it’s time to plan ahead for the biggest marketing pivot of the past decade.

With growing awareness and expectations around data privacy, deprecating third-party cookie data must remain a priority for all digital advertisers as they shape their data strategies for the future.

Digital is data driven. The digital ecosystem has spent 15 years building supply chains and infrastructure on the premise of having access to rich, readily available data about consumers, their online behaviors and – fundamentally – their propensity to become a customer. We now face an altered (and potentially less informed) landscape in the not so distant future.

Who is driving these changes?

Of course, these changes don’t just affect brands and marketers. This heightened focus on digital privacy will change the online customer experience. It is therefore important to understand what users think about online privacy.

Flashback to 2019 and one could confidently say that online privacy concerns were steadily rising among consumers, up 5% globally between 2015 and 2019 (according to GWI data). But when the pandemic hit, this trend stopped and even reversed in many markets. It’s hard to pinpoint why, but factors likely include GDPR and gratitude to the internet through lockdowns.

Looking at GWI data, the picture in the UK is that just over a fifth (22%) of consumers say they feel in control of their personal data online; 35% say they prefer to remain anonymous; and 40% say they worry about how companies use their personal data. Older age groups and women are much more likely to be affected.

Will accurate measurement still be possible?

The biggest concern for marketers is the deprecation of third-party cookies that hurt digital marketing performance. Measurable ROI will drop. Certain customer actions and behaviors will no longer be measurable, and there will be a ripple effect when parts of the user journey become impossible to track, negatively impacting activities such as programmatic spend.

Another key consideration for cookie-dependent brands will be measurement accuracy. The authority of measurement is in the eye of the beholder; no attribution model is completely accurate. Some tracking tools and methods will be less knowledgeable than before, prompting brands and marketers to take a broader view of the activities that impact their customers, moving from click path analysis to econometric modeling. wider.

There is also a trust issue with Google. If you’re using their ROI metric, taking data from their own walled garden and comparing it to other adverts, how can you be sure they’re not overpricing their work over their competitors ?

Consistently verifying the value generated by an activity requires planning and structured implementation with measurement in mind.

The disappearance of CX personalization?

For years, brands have used third-party cookies to track behavior and collect data, improving targeting and the onsite and offsite experience. With the power to track and analyze interactions between websites, marketers have the information they need to personalize experiences and build strong, lasting relationships with customers.

This ability to personalize the customer experience varies from industry to industry and depends on the state of your data. However, without third-party data, there will be less visibility into a brand’s prospect audience, meaning granular personalization through certain acquisition channels will diminish. Engagement and conversion rates are therefore likely to decrease.

Optimizing and innovating the customer experience through enhanced proprietary data strategies will now (more than ever) be imperative to delivering memorable experiences. Think about your own brand and your industry: how different are your user journeys from those of your competitors? Are customers having a similar experience in your industry? Revisiting your data strategy will help you unlock powerful real-time campaign opportunities further down the funnel.

Harnessing opportunities in a cookie-free world

Consumers have a complex relationship with digital privacy. Marketers need to understand where their customers fall on the spectrum of privacy attitudes and behaviors and adjust their strategies accordingly. Privacy is a high-stakes game, and we all need to work together to make sure consumers come out on top.

These impending changes in no way make personalization and the online customer experience obsolete. This actually presents a great opportunity for brands to balance potential lost top-of-funnel revenue by planning now to leverage more of their own first-party CX, CRM, and data strategies.

Brands need to devise new ways to target and learn about relevant audiences without being intrusive. To future-proof rapidly approaching regulatory restrictions, a strong first-party data strategy throughout the customer data supply chain is required. Any marketers worried that these changes will mean the end of the optimized customer experience can breathe a sigh of relief and rejoice in the opportunities that lie ahead.


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