The cookie crumbles: How to handle the loss of third-party data

Third-party data is on its way. Headed straight for the exit. Out of here. In 2023, Chrome will stop supporting third-party cookies. We know that and if you work with digital marketing probably so do you.

- 6. October 2022

There's no news flash at this point and it’s not really interesting anymore. What is interesting is where it leaves marketers and ecommerce. Is this the end of data-driven marketing or is there a way for businesses to move on from here?

If you’ve been asking yourself that question lately, you are in luck. In this blog, we will give you some sound advice on how to attack this hurdle and turn it to your advantage. We’ll give you the first piece of advice right now. If you haven’t started on your new data strategy by now, you need to do so soon.

Before we really get into that, let us start by saying that despite the challenges we as professionals working with digital marketing now face, the killing of third-party data is a good thing. Individuals should have control over their own data and when and to whom they give it out. Surely, a lot more could be done to protect individual data rights, but this is a step in the right direction. That’s the ethical and societal perspective.

From a professional perspective, it’s not all bad either. Eliminating third-party data demands agencies and ecommerce businesses to look for new ways of gathering data. Lucky for us, there’s something called first-party data as well and with the stroke of a pen this just got a lot more important. First is better than third, right? The answer is yes.

First-party vs. Third-party

Where third-party data is largely based on general assumptions drawn from enormous datasets and a look-alike approach, first-party provide cold facts about the individuals that make up your audience. On top of that, first-party data is yours. You earned it and you can pull it up and have it right in front of you. So, does this mean you need to focus on collecting first-party data now? Yes, that’s exactly what it means.

Reap what you sow

For most, the lowest hanging fruit is probably taking control of the data that you already generate and own - email permissions, website traffic, etc. Make sure Google Analytics is set up correctly and that various SoMe pixels are also fine-tuned. This is a good place to start. 

However, if your business is reliant on using data you are likely to need to go a step further. You are saying goodbye to an endless stream of data and now have to rely on the data you are able to collect. Needless to say, there’s no way you’ll be able to reach the same sample size as with third-party data, but it is still absolutely worthwhile to focus on building a first-party data warehouse for reasons already mentioned above. Short term, this means you need to start gathering email permissions and driving traffic to your platforms.

Long-term, it means you should look for new ways to generate first-party data. This is the time to improve your digital presence and add new brand platforms in order to build an eco-system of digital outlets. Dust off that old customer club concept and add new brand platforms from which data is collected. In other words, businesses should attack this head-on with proactivity.

New Technology?

Forward-thinking brands are already acting proactively on this.  They have started putting first-party user data from CRM, CDP platforms, and offline contacts to use in marketing and advertising campaigns. This leaves them with the opportunity to sell more products to loyal users through customized retargeting.

That’s the data they already have, but brands and marketing professionals should start gathering and segmenting user data right now. This, most likely, calls for new technology  -  a data management platform, for instance. Picking out new tech and getting the right fit for your business can be a daunting process, which is why companies should invest time in finding a reliable tech partner with the necessary qualifications to lend them a hand with customization and integration.

Flexible and scalable with MACH

If you decide to tackle the data issues by adding platforms, we strongly recommend you apply a MACH-inspired approach and construct a flexible and scalable digital setup with microservices. We are seeing more and more businesses free themselves from the constraints of monoliths by creating a digital architecture of microservices that will give them the flexibility to take on unforeseen future challenges, just like the one we are facing now with the departure of third-party data. Going with a MACH-inspired setup will allow businesses to continuously adjust and scale their digital setup, so it always fits their current needs.

Other than collecting first-party data, there are many good reasons to go with an ecosystem of microservices which we have explored in this article, but in this case, creating numerous digital touchpoints for your audience does also pose a challenge. All the valuable data you are now collecting are stored separately in these digital containers, which can be a bump in the road if you are looking to combine the first-party data and use it actively in your marketing activities. And of course, you are.

For this, you can push the rock all the way up the mountain and manually combine your data in endless excel sheets or the like. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that. Businesses just have to be aware of this and the number of resources it consumes. Another way to go, and we recommend this, is to add a Customer Data Platform (CDP), for instance Raptor, to your digital setup. With a CDP all the first-party data you gather across touchpoints will be available in one place and ready for you to utilize in marketing activities. This way you can take control of your data and put it to use.

Bottom line - The rapidly approaching cookie crumbling can cause some problems, but if you act now, it does also provide some opportunities to gain better data, that will lead to more enlightened marketing action plans. If you would like to learn more about how Adapt can help you with this, give us a shout here.

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