The role of a marketer changes in the post-cookie world

Changing the way we advertise is not easy, and marketers feel the pressure to change as consumers become more aware of their data.The new term for digital marketing is now “data-driven marketing.” Marketers want to know what type of content you like on social media platforms such as Facebook or Instagram so they can target ads that speak directly to them. This means, collecting user’s personal information from cookies and turning it into personalized advertisements while making sure they are GDPR compliant at all times. 

Marketing has changed dramatically with many people developing a distrust for brands – especially those who have been caught using shady tactics like tracking user data without permission or showing users ads based on what they were looking at before. The old days where you could just create an ad and hope it works, no longer works because consumers are savvy enough to know when marketing is being pushed onto them. 

Marketers are now in a post-cookie world where they have to reconsider how they approach their marketing strategies. As the online world moves towards more privacy, marketers need to reevaluate their tactics and goals when it comes to reaching customers online. This blog will discuss some of the big changes that marketers should be aware of as we move into this new era of digital marketing. 

In this blog post, we will address how a marketer’s role changes in the post cookie world and what is available at their disposal to adapt to these changes. Some of the highlights are: 

  • How marketing supports customers with their digital lives?
  • First-party data collection and unified IDs
  • The future of marketers
  • Some ways in which marketers need to stay prepared for the post-cookie world
  • 3 reasons why marketers should be optimistic in a cookie-less world?
  • 3 ways in which marketers adapt in the post cookie world?
  • The future of marketing in a post cookie world

Marketing’s role in supporting customers with their digital lives:

Marketers are now in charge of customer experience management. And, to support better experience, marketers need first-party data and possibilities to build and enrich a unified ID. 

The cookie-based approach can no longer be the answer.

In the post-cookie world, marketers need alternatives to continue their work in a way that still meets customer expectations and keeps them engaging with brands and publishers online. In this new landscape, marketers have a role to play as guardians of consumer identity.

Especially, they need to be able to track data via ads despite the browser restrictions. 

What is the way forward?

As we could see, marketers need alternatives. First-party data collection and unified IDs are still critical to their business. Nowadays they should be able to collect better first-party data with a higher level of accuracy than before. 

1) Unified ID and 2) first party data can now be enhanced by providing an extra layer of detail based on cross-device behavioral signals by server-side tags. That’s why the cookie approach cannot be used any longer as it limits granularity and accuracy in identifying individual consumers. Marketers need to look for reliable options such as server-side tagging. 

Mobile-first Cross Device Data Platforms are the key to enhanced cross device data not only because they can be leveraged to accurately identify individuals, but this technology also gives marketers an opportunity to understand individual customer’s behaviors, including their online, offline and mobile actions (the whole picture) . On top of that, thanks to big data analytics capabilities, we can provide sophisticated reasoning mechanisms in order to infer more subtle connections between people and things and better predict consumers’ preferences and needs .

The future for marketers is bright. 

Soon enough it will be possible for them to collect first-party data by using a mix of Cookies + Server Side Tagging + MPIDs + Mobile SDKs + Beacons. And then use sophisticated cross-device behavioral data of users in order to deliver much more personalized and relevant messages.

Thanks to data-driven insights, marketers will not only be able to optimize their campaigns but also create content that is tailored precisely for each individual or group of individuals (personalization). They’ll have a precise tracking mechanism across numerous devices from the mobile phone, tablet, PC to TV. All these capabilities will allow them to provide an even better experience for users at lower cost and make companies more competitive .

Cross-device systematics offer a great opportunity for effective measurement, rich segmentation, detailed targeting and measuring return on investment (ROI). It also gives new sources for analyzing audiences’ behavior patterns across devices.

Here are some ways in which marketers need to stay prepared for the post-cookie world

  1. Marketers need to be more strategic and creative than ever before
  2. Marketers need to think about how they can make their brand stand out from competitors and create an emotional connection with customers
  3. Marketers focus on driving engagement through content marketing, social media, and influencer outreach
  4. Marketing is no longer just advertising – it’s about creating a sustainable relationship between your company and its consumers
  5. How will consumers behave differently due to these changes, and what can marketers do to prepare for that change?

Why should marketers be optimistic in a cookie-less world?

  1. Don’t depend on third-party vendors.

You don’t need third-party vendors to hold ownership of your tags to solve your problems and provide you with what you really need – the right data. We are starting to see a new breed of programs that will combine first-party cookie IDs, tag-based IDs, and offline conversions into one overarching master ID that is segmented by the marketer’s own team (not some random vendor).

Magic Pixel’s ID Link service allows marketers to work with their own existing cookie information, while also harvesting non-cookie segments from media players; these segments can then get automatically added back into the original database for better identification.  By creating a more complete picture of an individual user across time and devices, companies are able to achieve a more engaging relationship with the users and existing customers.

2. Owning the customer that you spent money on  acquiring

The second case we are dealing with is about companies that have already invested in media buying, and now need to take action on the results.  Therefore there is a need for marketing activation efforts to be focused on specific users, as in the example of direct response campaigns .   The challenge here is how you can use all of your data (online or offline) to ensure high engagement during the period between creating an ad unit and collecting a sale. By looking at the online behavior of both leads and customers, marketers will be able to predict which individuals are most likely to respond , based on their previous online activity.

In addition, being armed with this knowledge allows them to engage only those people who are really interested in their product or service.

3. Better data enrichment supporting customer ID creation and profile building

In order to build a single view of the customer, companies are looking at building up their data enrichment capabilities. This will allow the company to understand further who is interacting with it and why.

Predictive modeling using enrichment data (i.e., Facebook Likes) is one such example of how we can better match online and offline behavior together to identify individuals who may not have interacted much on social media but have bought products from other channels.  

Tying this all together, these three factors will slowly transform marketing from a field devoid of measurable results into one where it becomes easier for marketers to predict responses, increase lead generation and convert more customers .

So what do you think? Are you seeing a positive impact coming your way as a marketer in a cookie-less world with the help of server-side tag management. 

How can marketers adapt in the post cookie world?

1. Adopt first-party data advantage.

First-party data is not only limited to company owned email address or website visitor details. Data from mobile devices, social networks or CRM systems are all first party users’ data.

The level of granularity varies across those datasets but the opportunity is real. The key point you should keep in mind is that this data can be obtained on a consistent basis by using the same channel (in case of mobile/social data) or by leveraging cross-channel user’s activity to predict their preferences (CRM).

Consider a unified identity infrastructure. Suppose you are able to use your customer’s behavioral traits across channels and products. In that case, you could generate better engagement and loyalty 

(i) Increase customer lifetime value through cross-channel and cross-device targeting. 

(ii) Improve conversion rates on individual channels, device and product-level through cross-channel matching of the customer’s unique identity across channels and products. This also includes profiling by gender, age, location, social groups etc., to give you granular insights in your customers’ behaviors.

Then, implement a unified CRM system that will act as a ‘single source of truth’, storing the  data previously scattered across different silos and systems. Such a CRM database can serve as an ideal (centralized) entry point for all other marketing applications like contact lists management , lead generation & nurturing .

Include Artificial Intelligence tools in your marketing stack so your algorithms get even smarter in extracting actionable insights. For instance, Magic Pixel provides anomaly detection by using historic data and creating machine learning models using those data sets. This tells you if any tags that are defined to extract first-party data are broken.

2. Include server-side tagging in your marketing mix

If you have experience with cookies, then using server-side tags is easy for you. They’re usually HTTP endpoints with 1×1 pixel and are used to track your efforts across multiple campaigns on the site. Just make sure that they don’t interfere with first-party data collection through your cookie file.

Also, add a tracking pixel in all of your outgoing emails that allow you to collect addresses of those who opened an email from your side (so they would be added automatically to your CRM database). You can also use these pixels (in case you sell products online) to decide whether to deliver product recommendations and other related offers right away after opening an e-mail or if it’s better for them. Server-side tags are secure and since they are published by the server and not the browser, you will be aligned with the first party data strategy.

With Server-Side Tags we can get rid of many questionable and unreliable cookies that are often considered the main reason behind poor quality data. Moreover, it’s very easy to audit this kind of tags since they’re attached to every web page request. Another obvious advantage is that you can add unique IDs for each new campaign even if traffic comes from a cookieless browser or after several months when the cookies have expired. 

With server-side tags you don’t need any permission to install them on your website or mobile app, which is vital when working with global accounts in different countries. You can also use these tags for tracking emails that were delivered into spam folders and determine whether an email was successfully deleted by the user or not. 

3. Hybrid tag management between server side and client side tagging

Insights and Analytics Ad agencies typically are the most advanced users of web analytics. For them it’s a very important tool to manage their accounts and campaigns, but also necessary for reporting to clients. However, in a digital marketing environment collecting behavioral data is not enough as you need more insights into purchase behavior of consumers that involves well-defined actions such as adding goods to cart or registering at your website or mobile app (depending on your business model). 

Collecting all these actions with customer ID from the server side also allows you to adjust attribution models by using this information during analysis. Another key factor is ability to track links that were clicked outside of your website/mobile app – especially if you send traffic via affiliates and other third-party websites. 

You need both client and server-side tags for flawless marketing attribution.

Although you can use different types of solutions that have aforementioned functionalities, it is always much better to customize them as needed. As an example, high-frequency actions such as adding goods to cart or registering at your website are usually tracked by using server side tags and stored in the database. Also you need a client-side tag for clicks on links outside of your website/mobile app because if someone for instance reads about your product at some blog, their next step may be visiting your site directly (direct traffic). However if they visit the same blog one day later and leave comments there after checking out your site, this action should be attributed differently than direct visitors – so the math model must know what type of visitor came.

Keep your focus on the ROI and data-driven tag management that is supported by Google Lighthouse score and poor performing tags or non-compliant tags. Other tactics include looking at the sites a person visits, the ads they click on, and their search history

The future of marketing in a post cookie world

Marketers need to find new ways of tracking user behaviors that don’t involve cookies. The most common alternative to cookies as of today is server-side tagging.

Server-side tagging uses software on the web servers (i.e., your website, publisher or ad network) to track user behavior when they connect to their site via a cookie-less browser or use a tracking blocker such as Ghostery or Adblock Plus. 

When a user visits a site that is using server-side tags and he has disabled the setting that blocks all third party cookies, his browser will send two views—one with the tag in it and one without—to the server. 

The server then collects information about which page was visited, which is sent back to Google Analytics for example, and aggregated with other users’ behaviors from around the web. This holds true even if you are using Do Not Track (DNT), also known as an HTTP header or meta tag. When DNT is enabled by users on their browsers, they are sending an instruction to every website that requests no tracking of their behavior be performed when visiting that website.

The future is to get comfortable with server-side tagging. 

The post cookie world is a place where we can’t rely on cookies to track people’s online behavior. Cookies are still used for some things, such as remembering passwords and shopping carts.

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