Digital customer experience in a cookie-less world - Marlabs Cookie-less world

Digital customer experience in a cookie-less world

Google Chrome accounts for 65% of browser traffic worldwide. When Google announced its planned blocking of 3rd party cookies on Chrome browser from 2023, it made many digital marketers anxious.  Many of Google’s competitors, including Apple, Microsoft and Mozilla, have already blocked third-party cookies. This may alter the landscape for digital marketing and advertising, which currently relies extensively on third-party cookie data for personalization.

Cookies have served to enhance user experience in a variety of ways – from authenticating logins to online cart tracking to personalization. However, some of the ways in which cookies have been used have come under fire in recent years due to high profile security breaches and abuses by marketers who look to tap into the wealth of browsing data to drive results. Amazon was recently fined $880 million by Luxembourg authorities over allegations it flouted EU’s data privacy rules. With the proliferation of privacy regulations such as GDPR and CCPA, the major tech giants such as Apple, Microsoft, Google and Mozilla have stepped in to make some changes.

Data privacy will be one of the most important issues in the next decade. GDPR alone will create an estimated $3.5 billion market opportunity. Businesses need to prepare and adapt to changes in customer experience and personalization solutions in a cookie-less world.

Key concepts of Cookies

Before we look at the effects of these changes, let’s take a look at some key concepts of cookies.

Cookies are sets of data collected and stored in a user’s browser when visiting a website and they remember various interactions from things like browsing history to login details and are used for digital marketing and advertising processes like behavioral profiling and ad retargeting.

Cookies come in two main types – First-party cookies and Third-party cookies.

First-party cookies are cookies that are owned, stored and created by the website domain that the user visits. These cookies are used by the website owner to collect analytical data, user preferences and provide personalized experiences. First- party cookies will not be blocked or phased out by Google.

Third-party cookies are dropped by the website you visit. However, they are not necessarily stored or owned by the website or its parent company. These cookies are used for cross-site tracking by adtech companies, wider audience profiling, and personalization in advertising. Third- party cookies will be blocked or phased out by Google on its Chrome browser from 2023.

Cookie regulation and the impact of these changes

 EU’s GDPR categorizes cookies into four boxes, and are regulated in different ways:

  1. Strictly necessary cookies
    • Generally first-party; only cookies not requiring consent
  2. Preferences cookies
    • Generally first-party
  3. Statistics cookies
    • First-party and third-party
  4. Marketing cookies
    • Generally third-party

According to the General Data Protection Regulation(GDPR), any cookies that can be used to identify you are considered personal data and are thus subject to the GDPR’s regulatory requirements. Regulations such as GDPR and California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) are set to bring huge changes for marketers, who have relied on third-party cookies for critical aspects of their job.

The major impact of these changes are:

  • Reaching new prospects and customers
  • Personalizing online engagements
  • Managing campaigns
  • Measuring marketing performance

Personalized content and Behavioral Targeting for improved conversions uses data segments that are predominantly based on third-party cookies to identify the correct anonymized users to target.  Multi-touch attribution also goes away. This leaves many advertisers potentially in the dark about the comprehensive impact of their digital marketing efforts.

How to manage DCX in a cookie-less world?
So with all of these changes in mind, it’s important to consider what steps and actions your business can take in order to continue to drive growth with your digital channels. The following approaches will help to deliver a customer-centric content experience in a cookie-less world.

Improve first-party data collection
First-party data now has so much importance than ever. Owning all your first-party data will act as a safeguard in the event that you need to change agencies or tools, which could otherwise result in loss of data. This is why your 1st party data capture must be accurate, aggregated, and analyzed. Data quality need to be ensured for better customer experience across all channels.

Implementing good data hygiene practices can ensure data accuracy. As the first step in implementing a new and accurate approach, you may need to clean your current data.

Use a Customer Data Platform (CDP)
A customer data platform combines insights from your customer’s experience across multiple channels belonging to your website including CRM, social media and e-commerce platforms, supports content personalization and helps to optimize conversion rates. A customer data platform acts as a central repository for your Martech stack. Improve the accuracy of your profiles by gathering 1st party omnichannel data and merging personal information such as email addresses, telephone numbers etc.

Modern data warehouse and cloud-scale analytics
Bring your first-party data together into a cloud solution as this helps to make more informed business decisions.

Build modern data warehouse and analytical solutions at an enterprise scale with cloud-based solutions such as Azure Synapse Analytics and data governance services. This is where Artificial Intelligence(AI) and Machine Learning(ML) can offer critical support to automate customer analysis. This can help unlock deeper insights, such as purchase predictions and customer lifetime value.

Ensure Compliance for first-party data
Ensure that your first-party data is fully compliant with regulations and is future proof. Implement a proper cookie consent management solution that clearly communicates how you process and protect their data to increase customer trust.

Encourage user registration
You need to know who your users are if you want to truly deliver personalized experiences. A great first step to building out their profile is by getting their email address. Identify areas on your site where information exchange makes sense for the user: newsletter sign-ups, cart check-out, first-time buyer discount, loyalty program, etc. are some examples.

Customer Experience(CX) driven digital strategy
In a post cookie and privacy-first world, it is going to be vital to develop a stronger relationship with customers. Focus should be on serving your customers, and a CX driven digital strategy is very important. Based on greater customer trust, coupled with cleverly planned personalization strategy to deliver right message to the right audience at the right time on the right channel.

Currently, digital marketing relies extensively on third-party cookie data for personalization. Blocking of 3rd party cookies may alter the landscape for digital marketing. There is still time to adapt to the changes and take advantage of the benefits these changes brings in the form of increase in consumer trust they will generate. COVID-19 has fundamentally shifted societal behaviors.  Companies that will see success in the long term are the ones that are aware of changing buyer behavior, can drive engagement and increase brand affinity.  With our deep understanding of cloud technology, consumer data privacy regulatory compliance and cloud-scale analytics, Marlabs will be leading our clients through this transition.

Ajil Antony

About Ajil Antony

Ajil Antony is Director and Head of Microsoft CoE at Marlabs. With over 20 years of experience in the IT industry, he has spent 15 years in the US and UK working with global leaders such as Pfizer, Deloitte, Merrill Lynch /Bank of America, McKinsey, McGraw-Hill, Verisk Analytics, United States Golf Association and Ladbrokes. His core focus areas include Digital Transformation, Enterprise Architecture, Cloud Computing, Web Content Management, Data Analytics and E-commerce.

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