Third-party cookies are like Cretaceous dinosaurs. They’re munching away on consumers’ data while asteroids lobbed by Google, Mozilla, Apple, and others are on the brink of obliterating the current marketing ecosystem.

Google is planning to phase out these online tracking tools by 2022. For its part, Apple plans to make its mobile device ID—known as identifier for advertisers, or IDFA—opt-in only: a move that will prevent cross-application tracking of site visitors. Their plans are only two examples of a far broader pivot toward consumer privacy that’s also been manifested in expansive pro-privacy laws such as the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation and the California Consumer Privacy Act.

For better or worse, the internet has evolved to run on consumers’ data: the data that “third parties” such as advertisers and marketers collect so that retailers and other businesses can track website visitors, improve their customers’ experiences, target ads, and figure out what visitors check out on other websites as they move from site to site. Now that the tech giants have either banned these trackers outright or plan to banish them from their web browsers, how many businesses are ready for a “cookieless” future?

Preparing for the cookie-pocalypse

The answer, unfortunately, is not many. A recent Adobe survey found that only 37% of companies are “very prepared” for a world without third-party cookies. Many companies are taking a wait-and-see approach—an attitude that typically results in “last-minute, short-term fixes and workarounds,” according to Amit Ahuja, vice president for Experience Cloud product and strategy at Adobe.

But the impending phase-out of third-party cookies doesn’t have to entail panicked flailing. Rather, a future without the trackers holds opportunity for businesses that learn how to ride the change, keeping experiences at the personalized level customers have come to expect, even without the use of third-party data. The time to strike is now, Ahuja says: “The fact that 63% of organizations are not prepared for a cookieless world points to a tremendous opportunity in moving to first-party data strategies now to create long-term differentiation.”

You snooze, you

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By: MIT Technology Review Insights
Title: In a cookieless future, half-baked marketing won’t do
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Published Date: Tue, 27 Apr 2021 15:00:00 +0000