October 06, 2021
You might have heard it through the marketing grapevine, or you're hearing it now. Whatever the case, it's true that Google has announced that it will be abandoning cookie-based tracking and advertising sometime in the year 2023.
As marketers, we’ve long relied on the concept of the “cookie” to both track and advertise to our audience. The internet cookie is essentially a unique identifier that a visitor takes from you and carries with them across the internet. It has long been a go-to tool for continuing to communicate with customers even after they’ve left your site.
The news may be shocking, but this disruption can be a good thing. Anytime you’re forced to reevaluate a strategy you can’t help but refine it further. That’s how we choose to look at this revelation, and we hope to instill that positivity in you. Cookies or no cookies, there are multitudes of ways to engage with your base on and off your website. Let's explore these options.
Track Your Users Another Way
It’s true; while cookies are going to the wayside in 2023, there will always be a way to track your audience as they use your website, and even continue to communicate with them once they’ve left your platform.
The solution gaining the most traction is known as the “Unified ID 2.0”. It intends to serve as a universal method of tracking web usage across platforms and websites using one single ID technology. When a user logs into a website using their email, an anonymized version of that email will be created and used for tracking. Visitors will be able to see why the website wants their information and exactly how it will be used. Even better, users will be able to customize how they want their data to be shared. This new approach provides more privacy and transparency, which users are sure to appreciate. With a unified ID that everyone agrees to use we can look forward to a standard, seamless tracking experience that is more unique and beneficial to customers.
Accept that Cookies Were Overrated, Anyway
Cookies have been with us for a long time, since the dawn of the modern web browser, which is several decades old at this point. The cookie, as a piece of technology, was invented when the internet looked much different. Social media hadn't been invented, and high-speed internet was a pipe dream.
Such an antiquated technology should be replaced with something better, anyway. Did you know that only around 40-60% of users can be matched by their internet cookies? The high rate of failure means that you're lovingly created integrated marketing campaign may misfire on a hapless internet user who has no idea why you're marketing to them, and no inclination to engage.
Furthermore, most modern browsers throttle what exactly a cookie can and cannot do. What you end up with is only a partial picture of a visitor, sometimes wildly inaccurate. Cookies have long been misused and abused by nefarious websites. They’ve gotten a bad rap from consumers, and have been highly moderated by web browsers for this reason.
Use a People-Based Approach
What is “people-based” marketing? It’s something Facebook has been delving into, and its results have been surprisingly effective. A people-based approach to marketing involves learning who individual web visitors are, no matter what device they use, where they’re coming from, or where they’re going. Just like you’d learn the name of a store regular, people-based marketing is all about putting names and faces to your audience. It encompasses three identifying components that come together to communicate distinctly to your audience.
Identifying your audience means engaging with them on a personal level and asking them to identify themselves. You want to invite your customers to share personal information and to use your service on all of their devices. From there, it doesn’t matter if they access your brand through their smartphone, tablet, or laptop; you can welcome them and personally communicate with them.
Metrics and data are collected on digital channels pretty much automatically. However, that data and those usage habits are still more or less anonymous. You can see a clearer picture of your wider audience, but you still can't see the individual.
Since you’ve already gone through great lengths to identify your customers, you can then build robust profiles that have a face and a name. This, paired with regular usage data, will give you a much clearer picture of your demographics.
Once you’ve identified your customers and have begun building profiles for them (that you can begin to extrapolate to potential leads of similar tastes), you can then let the automatic, algorithmic process of your marketing system do the rest of the work. Like a form letter, you can create the structure of your outreach plan yourself and let the digitized process fill in the details. What you get is an automated yet highly personal brand of communication.
Gone, but Not Forgotten
It’s better if you come to terms with the extinction of the internet cookie right now, rather than wait for the shock of its loss 2 years from now. Now you have time to find a way to better appeal to your audience through an organic, people-based approach. You’ll probably discover a lot about your brand in the process. With that said, there will always be a way to track and serve relevant advertising to web visitors.
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