24 Mar Google’s Cookies: What Happens When They’re Gone?
End of an era
Just to be clear, not all cookies are on the way out. First-party cookies that are collected when directly visiting a website will not be affected by changes – these are typically used for helpful purposes, such as remembering selected preferences.
Third-party cookies are different in that they are usually used for tracking consumer behaviour and sold by AdTech vendors to marketers. With Google planning to phase out third-party cookies by 2023, this will increase privacy for consumers as AdTech companies can no longer collect data without consent. Cookies are small pieces of code that are collected across websites that you visit and added to user’s browsers. They store analytical information about you, including your actions and preferences. Companies can use these to target ads to specific users.
Third-party cookies are not necessarily the most accurate in determining the success of campaigns anyway, as the data that is collected about users often does not align properly with behaviour – or, for example, they may not reflect the fact that you have already bought something, meaning that you may continue to receive targeted ads for a product that you no longer need. Whilst targeting does mean ads are being seen by relevant audiences, some marketers have exploited data and targeting parameters to over-target – without any real benefits. The use of marketing resources in a post-cookies world may actually lead to more effective activities and outcomes.
Change is coming
Community commerce is becoming increasingly important, with social media trends supporting this (for example, #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt) and integrated e-commerce promoting ease of purchasing. Consumers are placing greater value on social proof, with 66% being more likely to make a purchase if there are clear indicators of this. These may include ratings and reviews from others who have used the product. Social proof offers four main advantages over traditional advertising, those being; guidance in uncertain situations, similarity with other customers, verification from those more experienced, and the number of previously satisfied customers. Tapping into social proof will help brands to establish stronger credibility and diminish the risk factor of making a new purchase.
Businesses will benefit from developing direct relationships with prospective and existing customers alongside paid marketing such as social media channels and email marketing campaigns. A combination of these will ensure a consistent yet more personal strategy that engages with consumers more effectively than traditional ads, which can sometimes be deemed intrusive or simply be tuned out. Internal data will also play an important role in advertising strategy, as business use existing data from customers who have willingly provided information, and optimise this to maximise conversion rates.
49% of users are likely to buy from brands they see advertised when browsing, indicating further the importance of ads that respond to consumer’s preferences. Well-placed and accurately-designed ads will be far more successful than some previous techniques that relied on cookies to broadly distribute ads that largely end up falling on deaf ears – or blind eyes. Of course, we know that these ads are still seen by the subconscious mind, so it is worth bearing in mind the hidden subliminal benefit to brands (as you get when walking down a high street, for example, in the real world), but this benefit will still no doubt apply in any alternative digital strategies that replace cookie-based marketing activities.
Social ads offer the significant benefit of ads that are interactive, engaging, and emotion-provoking – all of which stimulate consumer interest in the brand. One such example is TikTok, as discussed in our previous blog post. Ads placed on social media can integrate themselves among other pieces of entertaining content that users are looking for, subtly attracting attention. This highlights the importance of a strong creative strategy that successfully projects a brand’s core value, but in a way that is interesting to consumers and encourages interaction.