Third-party cookies implications on marketing and DAM

How Can DAM Help Marketers Respond to Google’s Third-Party Cookie Ban?

In 2023, Google’s long-awaited ban on third-party cookies will finally come into effect. The implications of this phase-out on businesses will force marketers and advertisers to rethink their digital marketing strategies in order to maintain growth. What will marketing look like in this cookie-less world, what new role does Digital Asset Management (DAM) play, and how can brands leverage a fully integrated MarTech stack to capitalize on their data and drive more meaningful and personalized, omnichannel experiences that translate into sales?

Google’s Third-Party Cookie Ban  

As Google plans to stop supporting third-party cookies within its Chrome browser by late 2023, companies are starting to prepare for a “cookie-less future” or “the cookiepocolypse” as some call it. That’s because the tech giant’s initiatives to ban third-party cookies will create new challenges for marketers. For years, brands have been able to execute targeted advertising campaigns using data collected on individual users’ browsing habits from ad tech companies like AdRoll, Criteo and Quantcast, to name a few. That’s all about to change as we say goodbye to third-party cookies that track users across the web. 

First-Party vs. Third-Party Cookies? 

While it’s likely you’ve already visited a website and are familiar with the term cookies – small data files that are placed on websites to help remember you – in order to fully grasp the impact of Google’s third-party cookie ban on brands, it’s important to understand the difference between first-party and third-party cookies. 

First-party cookies are tracking codes that are created and stored by the website which a consumer visits. They are used to track certain actions a website visitor takes such as adding products to cart, their location, their language preferences etc. This data allows brands to enhance the customer experience on their websites or e-commerce sites by understanding visitors’ behaviors and main characteristics. Since these cookies are placed on your own domains, the data collected belongs to you and only you.

Third-party cookies on the other hand, are tracking codes that are created by a website other than the one you are currently visiting. These cookies, which Google plans to eliminate due to consumers’ growing demand for security and privacy, allow advertisers to track users between websites and deliver relevant ads by leveraging behavioral and browsing data – for example information on which websites they frequently visit, products they’ve shown interest in, purchases they’ve recently made and even persona information using their personal web history (gender, age, household income etc..). 

When you see advertisements for the exact product or service you recently looked at on a website or social media platform other than the one that sells that particular product or service, it’s very likely that this retargeting ad was served using third-party data.  

Third-party cookies are helpful in helping brands target audiences across paid media but Google’s plan to eliminate these cookies isn’t all bad news: how many times have you encountered ads for a product you’ve just purchased? Third-party cookies can sometimes come up short and it can be difficult for brands to fully and accurately measure their advertising efforts as cross-channel customer journeys are increasingly difficult to map and reconcile, resulting in a lot of wasted ad dollars spent on already converted customers, or even competitors. 

What does Google’s cookie ban mean for marketers?

While many believe Google’s cookie-ban presents a big challenge for marketers, it will also provide a big opportunity for brands. In order to prepare for the cookiepocolypse, here are some ways companies can refocus their marketing efforts in order to create meaningful and impactful interactions with their prospects and customers.

Capitalize on first-party data 

Having a first-party data approach may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s role in your marketing strategy will exponentially grow as third-party cookies disappear. Since first-party data is information you collect from your customers and visitors, companies will rely on this unique data to understand their audiences and personalize customer experiences. To centralize this data coming from various sources and websites, they will need to start building their own data lake or Customer Data Platform (CDP).

According to a study by Boston Consulting Group, marketers that use first-party data generate nearly double the revenue from a single ad or placement. That’s because first party data is cheaper, more accurate and more efficient than any other type of data. 

Using a mix of offline and online channels like your website, mobile apps, social media channels, surveys, your CRM etc., you can collect important demographic information on users such as their age or the country or city from which they are visiting your website, contextual data such as the time of day or the device they’re using during the visit, and of course behavioral data like their interactions, purchase history and paths to purchase etc. 

The more upstream data you collect, the more you can fine tune the adaptation and personalization of content as these variables will influence which visual content or product recommendations you offer. To personalize the user experience and boost your conversions, you could for example display a specific product visual or deliver an email campaign that’s tailored to a certain region, country or particular age group. It’s also important to use your downstream data such as engagement rates to continuously optimize decisions about which content you produce and deliver to these audiences, but we’ll come back to this later. 

Technologies like Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Digital eXperience Management (DXM) exist to support these mass customization strategies, allowing brands to produce real-time variations of media and dynamically power contextually personalized customer experiences across all their existing touchpoints. Capitalizing on first-party data brings us to our next recommendation.

Integrate your martech stack  

To leverage your first-party data you need to first and foremost collect and aggregate this data. Customer data is often dispersed across various channels and applications like your CMS (Content Management System), CRM (Customer Relationship Management), PIM (Product Information Management), CDP (Customer Data Platform), Digital Asset Management (DAM) and Digital eXperience Management (DXM) platforms etc. Companies need to connect these multiple sources of first-party data in order to gain a 360 view of their customers and serve these highly contextualized, omnichannel customer experiences.  

Having the right marketing technologies in place as well as the ability to integrate these technologies that form your ‘MarTech stack’ is going to be crucial as you double down on your first-party data. For example, you’ll want to be able to pull data and customer information from your CRM or CDP solutions in order to deploy customized content via your CMS or marketing automation tools. If you’re in the retail, consumer goods or manufacturing industry, you also need to ensure that all relevant information associated with your products – information that is housed in your PIM – are consistently published on your marketing and sales channels. 

Digital Asset Management acts as the intermediary of this marketing ecosystem. Thanks to its ability to fully integrate with your existing systems through various API connectors and a natively headless architecture, a single-source-of-truth DAM platform has unique access to retrieve first-party information and supply media best-suited to specific audience segments. 

Adopt content-centric strategies and understand your clients via your visuals

Another important evolution we will likely see is the shift towards ‘content-centric” marketing strategies. It’s important to tailor the content experience using data on your audiences and users, but it is also crucial to measure your efforts at the media or content level: how do you know that the content you’re delivering is actually working for a specific target group, country or product line? You need data-driven insights such as information on how audiences engage and interact with your visuals by context and by touchpoint to optimize content ROI across the customer journey. 

Some Enterprise DAM platforms come with analytics dashboards to complement existing analytic systems such as web analytics and audience analytics (CDP, CRM…) in order to help you make more informed decisions about the content you deliver. 

Information on the performance of your images and videos across your owned and external websites helps brands better visualize and understand their top performing product shots and photographers etc. for a given campaign, channel, country, or certain device type so that you can optimize your content strategies and resources, drive richer experiences and ultimately improve marketing efficiency. Even in situations where your users are anonymous, by conducting A/B testing on your digital content and using media-centric data resulting from these efforts, you can still deliver the image or video most likely to maximize the user experience.

Google may be announcing the ‘death’ of the third-party cookie, but your ability to target users and audiences in personalized ways isn’t going away. And even as technology companies scramble to replace third-party cookie strategies with new alternative paid services like Apple’s IFDA (Identifier for Advertisers) or Google’s FloC (Federated Learning of Cohorts), marketers should start to diversify their strategies and move towards measurable, content-centric and ‘identifier-free’ marketing. By 2023, we can expect that personalized brand experiences will continue to persist and will only become more authentic and intelligent as long as you have the right technical infrastructure and strategies in place to understand your customers, analyze your content and automate personalization at scale. 

How to put your content at the heart of the customer experience?