Targeted Marketing Without Cookies?

How will you market once Google kills cookies?Major web browsers like Apple and Google are killing cookies. Thankfully, Business Intelligence Reporting Tools can help.

It was 1994, a web browser programmer got an idea for how to make online shopping more convenient for website users. By storing a small piece of a website’s data on the user's computer, the shopper could store their items in a virtual shopping cart.  The shopper could move around the site and come back and their items would still be there. They called this little piece of data a "cookie" and for the first time, consumer's movements on the web could be tracked. And thus, the first iteration of tracking cookies were born.

That said, the public didn't really become aware of them until 1996. It didn’t take long, however, for people to become concerned about personal privacy. It also wasn’t long before advertisers realized they could use third-party cookies to track users' behavior and interests. Then they could use that information to create more targeted ads. 

Now, almost 30 years later, cookies, as we know them, are about to become a thing of the past.

Apple was the first to allow its users to decide if they wanted to be tracked. In 2015, they allowed users to install an ad blocker on Safari so cookies couldn’t be placed on their computers. They followed that up 2 years later with Intelligent Tracking Prevention 2.0. 

In 2019, Mozilla gave its browser users the option to disable third-party cookies. Now, most major browsers limit tracking of their users across multiple sites. 

 Both Google and Apple plan on removing third-party cookies from their browsers. This move has been a long time coming, as both tech giants have been cracking down on cookies over the last few years. 

This decision will have a massive impact on the advertising ecosystem. Want to know more about how this change will impact the industry? Keep reading to find out.

What Are Cookies?

Cookies are small pieces of data stored on your computer or mobile device when you visit a website. They track your browsing history and collect information about your online activity. Advertisers then use this information to serve personal targeted ads.

For example, if you visit a website selling shoes and click on a pair of Nike sneakers, that website might put a cookie on your computer that says "shoes." Then, when you visit another website, that site might show you an ad for Nike sneakers. 

This type of targeted advertising is possible due to cookies. It's how most online advertisers make money. 

Yet, it's also why there is so much concern about privacy online. Cookies can track your movements across the internet and build up a profile about you without your knowledge or consent. 

What Are the Different Types of Cookies?

There are different types of cookies with other functions. Here is a run-down of the most common types of cookies and how they help businesses. 

  • First-Party Cookies

    The creation of these cookies happens when people visit a website. They store information like your preferences on the site, log-in details, and items in a shopping basket. As a result, customers don't have to keep reentering the same stuff every time.
  • Third-Party Cookies

  • Soon to be defunct, third-party cookies track consumers  online actions and interests.

    As the name suggests, a third party creates them – not the website you visit. They can advertise or track your activity across many websites. 

    For example, you might see an advertisement for a product on one website and then see the same one on another. It is likely because that advertiser has put a tracking cookie on your computer. This cookie allows them to show you targeted advertisements.
  • Session Cookies

    These only last for the duration of your visit to a website and go away when you close the browser. These cookies allow websites to keep track of information as you move from page to page. That way, you don't have to keep reentering it.

    Take an online shopping site, for example. These cookies, remember and keep the items in the basket as you browse through product pages.
  • Persistent Cookies

    Persistent cookies store the same information as session cookies. The difference is that these cookies stay even after closing the browser. Businesses can take advantage of this by tracking visitor behavior over long periods to build a customer profile. 

The Impact of Cookie Removal on Marketers

The removal of cookies will significantly impact the online advertising industry. Marketers won't easily be able to track people's online activity and promptly serve targeted ads. 

A decline in ad revenue will happen for many companies. Thus, forcing marketers to find other ways to reach their audiences. 

Marketing Without Third-Party Cookies

It's important to know that third-party cookies will get blocked. That said, first-party data is still there. After all, you own that data.

Marketers can still reach their audiences through first-party data collection. Marketers can collect customer data through surveys, loyalty programs, and email signups.

This data can help you figure out what different groups of people want. Then, marketers can use this data to show relevant ads to each group. 

Another way marketers can reach their audiences is through contextual targeting. This is when ads get served based on the context of the website or app where they appear. 

For example, someone may read an article about running shoes on a fitness website. They might see an ad for running shoes on that same page. 

Contextual targeting doesn't need personal information about the user. It's a more privacy-friendly option than targeted advertising. 

And it's not like you have to give up all your tracking and measurement tools. There are plenty of ways to measure success without cookies.

One way is by focusing on engagement metrics like time on site, page views per visit, and bounce rate. You can also look at conversions from other channels, like email or social media.

The goal is to create a picture of how people interact with your brand without relying on cookies. A few challenges come with this approach, but they're not impossible. 

Here are a few things to keep in mind.

Change Your Mindset

Tracking people without cookies requires a different way of thinking about marketing. You'll need to focus on creating a great user experience and building relationships with your customers rather than just trying to get them to click on a few ads.

The good news is that if you're willing to make the necessary changes, marketing without cookies is possible. It might take some extra effort, but it's doable. And, in the long run, it could be better for you and your customers.

There are a few ways to track people without cookies, but they're not as accurate or comprehensive as cookies. So, you'll need to get creative and use various methods, like server-side tracking, first-party data, and offline data. Since you can’t track people’s movements across the web, you'll need to segment your audience in other ways. Try honing in on demographics, interests, or behavior.

Invest in Market Research

Without cookies, marketers must find creative ways to capture their target audience.Marketing without cookies is like fishing without bait. You can do it, but you're not likely to catch anything.

The same is true of marketing without market research. You can do it, but you're not likely to achieve success without knowing what your target audience wants and needs.

That's where market research comes in. By definition, market research is "the process of gathering information about consumers' needs and preferences." In other words, it's a way to get inside your target consumers' minds and figure out what they're looking for.

What are all the ways to get started on market research?

Start With Your Target Market

Who are you attempting to reach out to with your product or service? Once you understand your target market, you can start researching their precise needs and desires.

Use Online Resources

The internet is a wealth of information, and plenty of online tools are available to help you with your market research. Google Consumer Surveys is one option, or you can try SurveyMonkey.

Talk to People in Your Target Market

One of the best ways to get insight into what consumers want is to ask them. You can do this through focus groups or one-on-one interviews.

Look at Your Competition

See what other businesses in your industry are doing to reach their target market. What seems to be working for them? You can learn a lot from your competition, so don't be afraid to look closely at what they're doing.

Keep Up With Industry Trends

Keeping tabs on current trends will help you foresee what consumers might show an interest in down the road. This can help you stay ahead of the curve and be the first to market a new product or service.

Personalization Is Key

Data privacy can coexist with a personal touch. In fact, they need each other.

Most people are willing to share their data if it results in a better experience. But they also expect companies to use their data ethically and protect their privacy. That's why it's so essential for companies to strike the right balance between personalized experiences and data privacy.

Website activity tracking is one of the most common ways companies collect data. It allows them to see what pages people visit, how long they stay on each page, and what they click on.

This data helps create a more personalized experience for each website visitor. For example, if someone visits a page about a product but doesn't buy it, the company can show them ads for that product later.

Website activity tracking can also create a better overall experience for everyone. For example, a company may see many people leaving its website after looking at the shipping options. The company can then improve its shipping options to ensure more people complete their purchases.

Prepare for Marketing Without Tracking Cookies

Tracking cookies is on the way out, so companies need to prepare for a world without them. Not all data tracking forms will go away, but cookies are one of the most common ways companies collect data.

Business Intelligence Reporting can provide valuable information you will need once Google phases out cookies.

Even though Google and Apple are phasing out cookies, they are working on other ways to track people's behavior. Just not at the cost of user privacy, which is the whole point of this change.

Invest in New Tools

If you're used to using cookies for tracking, you might need to invest in new tools that don't rely on cookies. 

Enhanced Business Intelligence Reporting provides a plethora of information designed to give businesses actionable insights on the health of their business. It also provides valuable insights into your customers and their buying habits. 

Business Intelligence Tools prepares and analyzes data across multiple data points, including your payments platform. Then it provides reports with actionable insights designed to better inform business decisions.

By design, BI reports present data in a meaningful way by taking the raw data points and analyzing it to provide actionable insights. Any business can gather data from multiple points and put it into a spreadsheet. But they won’t understand how the data points interact or affect the other data points. BI tools sort, analyze, arrange, and explain what the data means, as well as draw conclusions to give you a more holistic vision of the information.

Merchants can then draw on this information to create new and more creative marketing strategies. 

Do you still have questions about marketing without cookies? If so, feel free to contact us for more information. We are here for your success.

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