third party cookies

Cookie-less Acquisition Strategies or Bust: What Google’s Delayed Phaseout of Cookies Means

The long foretold ‘cookiepocalypse’ has been delayed … again. Even so, marketers wanting to escape the ongoing uncertainty must take matters into their own hands.

What does Google’s delay mean for marketers?

Google recently announced that phasing out third-party cookies will be pushed back to 2024. In a blog post, Anthony Chavez, Vice President of Privacy Sandbox, put the delay down to advertisers requiring more time to transition to the replacement technologies:

“The most consistent feedback we’ve received is the need for more time to evaluate and test the new Privacy Sandbox technologies before deprecating third-party cookies in Chrome. This feedback aligns with our commitment to the CMA to ensure that the Privacy Sandbox provides effective, privacy-preserving technologies, and the industry has sufficient time to adopt these new solutions.”

But there are many marketers who are somehow still not yet prepared for a cookieless future. With this announcement fresh in mind, they may even feel like there’s still plenty of time to take action – but they shouldn’t! While Google may be hesitating, other companies and regulators worldwide are not.

By Linda Vetter, SVP Marketing, 3radical

Acquisition costs about to skyrocket

Customer acquisition costs are rising fast, impacting brand profitability and revenue. A study by SimplicityDX found that acquisition costs have increased by 60% in the past five years. And the cookie’s demise isn’t the only cause. SimplicityDX attributed the cost increase to the introduction of Apple’s iOS 14.5 and the increased privacy legislation such as GDPR and CCPA. There’s also the fact that “about 45% of the internet is already cookieless.”

The good news for marketers is that the solution is already here – and it doesn’t require waiting for Google to fine-tune new technologies. Putting a renewed focus on consented zero-party data earned directly from customers, building trust-based relationships with customers, and prioritizing lifetime value are all futureproof, effective ways to increase profitability and manage acquisition costs today.

Three things all marketers should be doing right now

1.   Use the extended time to test and learn

Google’s delay means a little more time for marketers to sort their cookie-free data advertising plans before the safety net is pulled away. In the same blog post, Chavez wrote that Google is expanding the testing window for the Privacy Sandbox APIs. Developers are already able to test these APIs and soon trials will expand to users all across the globe. By Q3 2023, they will become generally available in Chrome.

Whether marketers are incorporating Google’s cookie alternative or trying other new cookieless tactics, the time to start testing is yesterday. Allocating budget to test and refine the most effective cookieless approach will help inform future marketing strategies.

2.   Re-weight KPIs from acquisitions to lifetime value

A large chunk of current marketing metrics often revolve around recent customer acquisitions. In the third-party cookie era, this was one of the short-term wins – and marketers gave little thought to customers beyond the first purchase. With acquisition costs skyrocketing, forward-thinking brands must shift focus onto retention and lifetime value.

Research by Bluecore shows that every time a customer purchases from a brand, the likelihood of a repeat purchase increases, jumping from 17% after one transaction to 52% after six. So, maximizing the total lifetime value from current customers isn’t just the next best option in a cookieless world – it makes the most financial sense.

3.   Generate Earned Data and get to know your customers

Customers are becoming more privacy-conscious but that doesn’t mean they are unwilling to share their data if they see the benefit in doing so – they are simply more cautious. The key to unlocking customer data is TRUST.

Building trust-based relationships starts with an Earned Data approach – that is, data willingly shared directly from the customer with consent to deploy it.

  • Create a mutually beneficial value exchange that highlights the value the individual will receive if they provide their data.
  • Let customers tell brands what they want to hear.
  • Then, use this gift of data to create adaptable customer experiences and establish trust-based relationships.

Taking the time to understand individual customers equates rich, actionable data uniquely relevant to each brand and business. The insight gleaned from Earned Data will go on to inform and foster robust marketing strategies that will stand the test of the imminent cookieless future.

Time to Get Ahead of the Crowd

Google may have delayed the end of cookies, but that doesn’t mean marketers can take their foot off the gas. 2024 may feel like a long way off now, but the writing is on the wall. Cookie-based targeting will end; not preparing for that inevitability could be the downfall of any slow-moving business.

Ultimately, the demise of third-party cookies represents a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to shift marketing models and mindsets. If brands build an Earned Data approach into their data marketing strategies, they will thrive above their competitors now, and past 2024.

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