By Katie Koval, SVP, Attribution Products at Nielsen
By now, every marketer knows that third-party cookies will soon go away. While the fact may have left some marketers feeling lost as to how to target and engage consumers moving forward, third-party cookies were more of a crutch than a catalyst when it came to developing impactful campaigns and sustaining long-term business growth.
Marketers need to focus on the entire funnel in order to sustain a pipeline of future sales, and while third-party cookies allow marketers to connect consumers’ journeys and experiences, they limit marketers from knowing specific information about individual buyers or how that information changes over time. This can lead to marketers developing blanket messaging that resonates with only a fraction of their audiences. That’s a problem, since 90% of U.S. consumers respond positively to marketing personalization.
By strengthening how they source and leverage their own first-party data, marketers have the opportunity to understand consumers on a more meaningful level and therefore, be in position to excel when it comes to personalization.
First-party data enables marketers to develop sharper messaging
Collecting customer data directly—such as through a brand’s app or a shopper’s purchasing history—better allows marketers to create more specific advertisements than what they could achieve using external sources. For marketers who have traditionally relied on third-party cookies to direct their marketing activities, this switch might come with a learning curve. Fortunately, they don’t have to collect and analyze first-party data entirely on their own.
To support their data approaches, marketers can adopt analytics systems capable of attributing consumer behaviors to specific activations to see which efforts are delivering returns and which ones are falling flat. For example, do consumers click through a certain ad more often when it’s displayed as a paid social post or as an in-stream ad? With this visibility into the audience journey, marketers can avoid putting dollars against tactics that don’t compel buyers to act.
Since marketers can monitor this information in more real time, they can keep up with how macro-level world events and cultural trends are influencing consumer needs and preferences to address audiences in a way that reads as timely and nuanced. Messaging that resonated one week might miss the mark the next based on evolving consumer needs. For example, while consumers’ receptiveness toward COVID-19-centric ads has waned over the past year-plus, Nielsen research found that 90% of Americans still express favorability toward companies that prioritize well-being in their messaging. Marketers need to be able to catch these changes in audiences’ receptiveness quickly and pull outdated campaigns before audiences think a brand is out of touch.
With third-party cookies, marketers might have a list of prospects to target, but they have no way of then fostering those leads. With advanced analytics tools, marketers can build profiles on their buyers and use those individuals’ histories with the brand to tailor future messaging to fit their unique wants and needs. This way, marketers can monitor how individual buyers have evolved.
Prioritize shoppers’ privacy concerns
Marketing, when executed effectively, functions as a dialogue between brands and their consumers. How audiences engage with a new campaign can reveal insights about current shopping preferences and lifestyle needs. Marketers can then respond with new offerings. Likewise, consumers concede personal information to marketers to receive more intentional service from them. This exchange can be a win-win for both sides.
That said, not everyone is willing to be a part of this transaction due to concerns over how their information will be used. Forty percent of U.S. consumers admit they’re not comfortable sharing data with brands. With consumers concerned over whether their information will be used responsibly, it’s critical that marketers articulate how a consumer’s data will be used to improve their experience with the brand, as well as what measures the brand is taking to protect that data. Showing consumers how they will benefit from this (e.g., they’ll receive personalized product recommendations) increases the odds they’re willing to share their information.
While marketers technically have until late 2023 until third-cookies disappear, those who are proactive in seizing the opportunity of first-party data will get a head start on shifting strategies and tackling challenges along the way. By establishing an approach for sourcing and analyzing first-party data, marketers will have the insights needed to deliver more relevant and influential communications to consumers, effectively increasing their interest in the brand and securing their business for time to come.