Google’s third-party cookie deprecation delay should by no means indicate that now is the time for marketers to put less emphasis on the migration to first-party cookies and data privacy. In fact, it’s the opposite.
Marketers have a little extra time to double down on efforts to ensure that they’re not only feeling comfortable and ready for the switch to first-party cookie solutions but that they understand how to appropriately leverage the data. Especially since specific and scalable first-party data collection will be the only way to get valuable insight into the opinions and (rapidly) changing behaviors of buyers.
This is a challenge that many have still yet to conquer. But the brands that are actually listening to their audience and incorporating that feedback on a continuous basis are seeing the return.
So how can more brands ensure their data strategy puts them in good favor with clients? It’s time to take a hard look at where and how identity data is sourced to effectively unlock the benefits of first-party data.
Prioritize ethically sourced, first-party data. First, it’s important to understand what is meant by “identity” data. Your data identity is the set of digital elements that verify who you are. These identifiers, which may include sensitive or personally identifiable information, are valuable and in high demand. Although Google has pushed back the timeline to deprecate third-party cookies, marketers must continue executing a privacy-first approach in first-party data collection.
As clients become more cognizant as to how brands are accessing and utilizing their data, marketers must prioritize ethically sourcing this information. Ethically sourced data is collected with consent from the client and can be obtained without relying on third-party cookies. The industry is moving from a passive approach to collecting insights on clients to actively asking clients for permission to do so—whether through online consent forms or other methods.
This data, which can be harnessed via owned platforms by integrating full-scale data management tools, is indispensable when developing marketing plans. Marketers will have the ability to better understand their target audience and be strategic when building out meaningful customer experiences.
Find creative ways to tap into the minds of clients. Clients’ relationships with brands have evolved. Now brands must respond by adjusting their strategies accordingly—meaning they must regularly gather, track, and leverage actionable data intelligence. That’s a lot of data to consider.
It’s helpful to remember, though, that ultimately brands want to fully understand intent. They don’t want to rely on many different data points that place a client in a particular segment or assume their intent. By engaging with clients directly or asking people specific questions, brands no longer have to guess; the data tells them the answer.
This might seem quite obvious, but in reality, many brands do not take the step to directly ask clients and their customers what’s important to them. One brand that’s effective in doing so is Nike.
Nike launched a digital workout series, The Living Room Cup, during the height of COVID-19 to meet the growing demand for in-home exercise. The series sparked a whirlwind of customer engagement and brought clients back into the brand’s ecosystem weekly. More recently, emerging conversations around sustainability in sneaker culture led Nike to expand its sub-brand offerings, like “Nike Considered,” the brand’s line of eco-friendly shoes.
Utilizing alternative methods of listening to clients directly, whether it’s through research, bespoke experiences, or owned platforms, to capture and leverage first-party data helps brands better understand their target clients. Brands that can build a strategy around ethically sourced first-party data to tap into how their customers are feeling—and evolve to anticipate and meet their needs—will thrive in the post-pandemic era.
The industry has long been overdependent on third-party cookies. Now is the time for innovation, to breed creativity and reduce reliance on any one approach. There’s a fresh opportunity to truly tap into the customer—understand them, and reach them, on a whole new level.
Bridget Bidlack is senior vice president of product at Lucid. An accomplished product leader with deep expertise in digital marketing, she has held technical and leadership roles at high-profile companies such as IBM, Microsoft, and Experian, as well as leading product teams at innovative start-ups including Bluestreak, [x+1], and Movable Ink.