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Trade cookies for control of your identity program
Brands need people, and people need brands. Do they need third-party cookies to connect?
Not everything will change as third-party cookies fade, but digital marketers are scrambling to solve for an uncertain future. Brands focusing on building and managing first-party data solutions will be ready for the so-called “third-party cookieless world” but also positioned to look smart and act on customer intelligence they own. When brands use their own data to know customers and prospects better, wonderful things start to happen.
Without a solid plan, the ability to see anonymous site visitors, retarget messages, and measure campaign performance, for example, will diminish as third-party cookies fade from the mix.
This is really about Identity – not cookies.
Successful, data-led and personalized marketing hinges on getting identity right to make meaningful connections with people. These are people you already know – customers or prospects in your marketing database – as well as audiences that you don’t know but would like to understand better.
The process of recognizing who is and who is not that unique person across devices, understanding how you want to react and interact with that person, and associating all of the variations of who that person might be across all channels, informs a brand identity graph.
That graph, to be useful over time, needs to be constantly evaluating, adding, or rejecting information (data) about that individual. It also needs to be accessible and easily integrated into all touchpoints between them and the brand.
We are not suggesting brands embark on a “build it ourselves” strategy. This is not about divesting out of all partnerships. This is about creating a robust and real solution. Here’s a possible path:
- Assess your current state. Examine where you are and where you would like to be related to building meaningful connections with people. And then you likely worked backward to figure out what you need to understand about people to make that happen. Where does that information come from now? What will go away without third-party cookies? You need to know who is engaging with your brand at each intersection of your outreach and customer interest. If you count on third-party cookies to do it, the party is over. Retailers, for example, without behavioral targeting and frequency capping, will find it difficult to create and send the right message at the right time to the right person in the consumer path to purchase.
- Embrace the first-party future. First-party identity is the new currency of the marketing ecosystem. Combining identity, data, and technology with a privacy-first approach creates a foundation on which brands can build a customer-centric business. The foundation of the relationship between a person and the brand or publisher is first-party engagement.
- Take ownership when it comes to identity. Industry regulations are driving a growing trend where brands are “taking control” of their own data and only allow processors (companies like identity providers or adtech partners) to access the data as needed, with strict privacy and security policies governing any sharing or access outside their firewalls.
- Do not settle for less (than a complete customer view). Brands need a private identity graph, the technical infrastructure to store known personally identifiable information collected through the normal course of a person becoming a customer. Things like email address, postal address, etc. This known information is valuable and can also translate to great benefit for a brand’s digital marketing. In today’s world, a brand also needs to store and support pseudonymous data so it can be ethically connected to deterministic data in the graph, including households, individuals, devices, unified geography, business, and organization.
- Prove the value. First-party tags can be operational in a matter of weeks and begin to provide a proof of concept. A first-party universal tag is placed on owned and paid media. It extends matching and brings data including exposure, click and site activity back to a scalable private identity graph – in real-time. Real-time capabilities pairing the tag with a data store and an API can deliver decisions in less than ten milliseconds, empowering platforms with the information (and precious time) needed to deliver customized, relevant and engaging messages.
- Be transparent. The brand or “controller” has the greatest responsibility to protect the privacy and the rights of known customers as well as visitors to a website or people interacting with paid media. Processors should act as trusted partners and a direct extension of the brand by providing the people, processes, and technology to build and maintain highly precise and scalable real-time consumer recognition, activation, and measurement that help ensure transparency, privacy and security are held to the highest standard at every step. All this is done within the brand’s private, owned, and dedicated environment.
Do it now. Now is the time to begin the journey to take control of your private identity.
You will need to test and learn to adjust your solution to your environment and unique business needs. The good news is it can happen and potentially deliver better results than you got with third-party cookies, long recognized as a method with many flaws. In a matter of weeks, you can start to prove the value of first-party data and begin your transition.