Over the past 25 years, third-party cookies have become essential to how organizations and businesses engage with their users online. Third-party cookies act as data trackers to follow user behavior across the web, enabling sophisticated advertising and analytics capabilities. For website managers, the data that these cookies provide is critical to deciding how to position content and products online. For marketers, the data from third-party cookies is essential to driving targeted customer engagement activities.
But there is, of course, a dark side to third-party trackers. While convenient for marketers (and in many cases, customers) "out-sourcing" the data collection to third-parties (Google, etc.) leaves both the marketer and the customer in the dark about what is being collected, how it's used, and who else might have access to it.
This has lead to growing consumer demands for more data privacy. Changing attitudes regarding consumer privacy are propelling new frameworks for how online user data is managed. Governments have started to respond with new laws and regulations, like Europe's General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA).
If you use third-party tracking cookies to inform your digital engagement and marketing strategy (and you probably do), important digital functions are likely to stop working by 2023, putting your digital operations and functions at risk.
But no need to despair. This shift has created opportunities and take control of your customer's data collection strategy to meet the changing digital world.
First-Party Data Provide Opportunities
One of the drawbacks to third-party cookies for website owners has always been that the ownership and control of the data tracked has remained in the hands of companies like Google and Facebook--the "third parties" who collect these cookies. This leaves information spread thinly across multiple sites, making it difficult to get an integrated view of customer behaviors and interactions. From a website management and marketing perspective, third-party cookies have been a useful, if imperfect, tool.
This means that the transition to a first-party cookie ecosystem, where site owners track and manage all of their own data, provides a significant opportunity to gain a much more holistic view of their users' behaviors, interactions, and preferences. But time is of the essence to make the change. Building up solid first-party data won't be instant.
How to Leverage your First-Party Data
The good news is that companies already own a significant amount of first-party data through existing customer relationships. This includes data sources like:
- email registrations
- loyalty / rewards programs
- content sharing
- purchase data (online and offline)
- product data
- customer service inquiries
- CRM systems
This data will need to be gathered, organized, and interpreted to replace the data lost once third-party cookies are eliminated. This is where a customer data platform (CDP) comes into the picture. A CDP is a purpose-built tool to help you manage and make use of your data, without third-party trackers.
A CDP offers:
- Unified customer data collection
- Unified profiles
- Ability to take action based on what is known about your customers
- Data collection that is transparent, allowing customers to see all data you collect on them
- Compliance with data privacy laws