The future of tracking across the internet is changing. With the deprecation of the third-party cookies on Google’s Chrome browser looming over the horizon, the entirety of the marketing and advertising industry is working round the clock figuring out how to continue their operations without this industry-defining tool.
In thinking about this ourselves, we invited a panel of fellow industry experts and educators on both the creative and data sides of the business for a roundtable discussion on the future of creativity and design in a third-party cookie-less future. The discussion, presented in collaboration with Austin Design Week 2021, revealed that although there are still many unknowns as to what the future of advertising will hold, we have a pretty good idea of what’s to come.
Here are some of the most notable insights and takeaways from the discussion.
If you’re not too sure what a third-party cookie is, or why they are leaving, I recommend giving our previous article on the subject a read. There, I elaborate on what’s happening with third-party cookies, why and how it matters to us as internet users.
First-Party Data Is King
Perhaps the most important takeaway from the entire event. If you want to continue using customer data to inform creative and media strategies, get it from them directly. As it’s done today, third-party data allows you to track individuals and their actions. This is going to be a thing of the past when Google switches to the aggregate-based tracking method. However, it’s a good idea to begin transitioning to a reliance on first-party sooner rather than later simply because your marketing efforts will be much better off for it.
An excellent note made by Tracy Arrington, Assistant Professor of Practice at UT’s Stan Richards School of Advertising & Public Relations, was to look into your Google account settings to see who they think you are. In her case, before she went in to change it, Google thought her to be a middle-aged man with no kids, who’s into cars and international travel. Being an educator and mother of two, she was shocked to find that Google had gotten her so wrong.
This illustrates an important point: third-party data is just that. From a third party. Relying only on this kind of data is like claiming to know everything you know about someone only from what others have told you about them.
Utilizing data gathered from direct interactions with your customers and target audiences has always been the most accurate way to understand their habits and priorities. And with third-party cookies soon to be out of the question, it’s going to become the only way.
Segments, Stories, & Design: How to optimize first-party data collection
So what does this look like? This is where creative comes in. Copywriters and designers will have to put an extra calculated effort to produce websites, landing pages, and direct messaging that engages users while inviting them to share their information willingly.
To do this effectively, media teams need to start keeping track of and segmenting their audiences now. Breaking up your audience and customer base by personas and where they are in your marketing funnels will empower creative departments to produce better-targeted ads and collateral.
The tricky part here will be understanding your audience with broader, aggregate information instead of the exact information provided by third-party cookies. Pooling from first-party data you’ve gathered, along with data provided from previous ad campaigns, creatives are going to be tasked with crafting border user personas until more first-party data dials them in.
To make the process of gathering and utilizing your first-party data as smooth as possible, we recommend implementing a marketing tech stack as soon as possible. There is a multitude of different tools and techniques to incorporate into your tech stack. How you instrument now will have a huge impact on your business down the road. Jameson Pitts, our founder here at Sangfropid! Put together an insightful blog on how to spec a product instrumentation plan if you’d like to read more on this subject.
Data Policy Decisions are Brand Decisions
When designing websites and other collateral that include privacy control and permission requests, make sure they are easy to digest, transparent, and helpful. This may mean giving them the option not to leave any trace of their visit on your site. While this may seem like a missed opportunity to some businesses, in reality, giving customers that choice is more likely to provide them with a positive impression of your brand.
As Jon Racinskas, Creative Director at Sangfroid! said during the panel, your brand is not what you say it is; it’s what your consumers say it is. Keep this in mind when laying out your data policy decisions and designing permission requests.
Third-Party Cookies Are Out. Direct Interactions are In.
Keep it short, honest, transparent, and direct. It will be noticed and appreciated by your audiences. Your data will be cleaner, and in effect, your consumers will have a much better experience.