How to stop walled gardens from becoming the beginning, middle and end of your customer data

Carolyn Corda is CMO at ADARA.

After growing concerns around the privacy of third-party cookies, Google announced last year that it would completely phase out cookies on Google Chrome by 2022. While other companies such as Apple and Firefox have already phased out and replaced the third party cookie on their own browsers, Google’s decision last year is the most significant. Google Chrome is the most widely used internet browser in the world and its decision to remove third party cookies from the platform has had far-reaching consequences for marketers and brands alike.

Third-party cookies have long been used by marketers to fuel digital marketing campaigns. Tracking browser history, user ID, session ID, and more, third party cookies allow brands to tailor ads based on user patterns and behaviours. For example, if a person frequently visits an ecommerce site, then they will start to receive ads relevant to their browsing behaviours on that site.

The death of the third party cookie next year represents a paradigm shift in how marketers operate. If marketers can’t replace the insight and information that third party cookies provide, then they will find that their ads are less relevant to consumers and therefore less effective. With under a year until Google phases out third party cookies from Chrome, it is clear that they need to find a solution that works fast.

Third-party cookie replacements

Understanding that marketers need a replacement to the third-party cookie, Google has launched a new product called Google Privacy Sandbox. The new initiative aims to replace cookies with five Application Programming Interfaces (APIs). The APIs monitor behaviours and send marketers aggregated data on conversion and attribution. Other companies have also launched their own replacement to the third-party cookie. For example, Apple and Firefox have both launched their own replacements called Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP), when they phased out third- party cookies on their own browsers.

Another similar solution for marketers comes from Facebook, Amazon and other giant tech brands who collect data straight from their users. These services provide marketers and brands with information on a person’s behaviour, actions and interests within a brand’s properties, that can only be used in those environments.

While these replacements should help marketers tailor campaigns to consumers, there are downsides to working with Google, Amazon and other services. Acting as walled gardens, marketers can’t use these services freely. Instead, they are bound to the data that Facebook, Google and other providers provide, and usually can only use it within that ecosystem. In reality, this means that marketers can’t tailor data to their own specific needs. Marketers should therefore be looking to create their own alternative to the third-party cookie. While they will undoubtedly want to work within Google and Facebook’s first-party environments, they should also seek to augment their own first-party data by finding ways to tap into wider sources of data in a privacy-first manner.

Future-proof data management

Marketers need to create a privacy-safe, scalable and future-proof data solution, that enables brands to build out their own first party data and build identities that they can use across platforms. To do this, they must be able to connect disparate data sets, from touchpoints with multiple brands, while remaining safe and privacy-compliant. Smart marketers are pivoting to ensure all their data usage is privacy-first, and transforming how the business works to put customer security at its centre.

Any leading data partner will help brands approach privacy as a selling point to consumers, not just a regulatory and compliance burden.. Brands are seeking out new types of data partners, including Adara, in a quest to find solutions that treat consumer privacy as sacrosanct.

ADARA tokenises the data our partners and clients share. This means that businesses can harmonize all of their customer’s disparate digital identities using a tokenised identifier to resolve identity, bring together internal and external data, activate data for targeting and create meaningful and actionable analytics, while maintaining privacy and data control rights. This is because sensitive client data never leaves their own environment, but siloed data can still be unified – securely replacing sensitive data elements with obscured values. In this way, brands can tap into the shared data in the consortium, layer in their own first party data, and even add in other data sources in a totally secure process.

With the death of the third party cookie fast approaching, marketers need to find an alternative soon. While walled gardens are part of the solution, they cannot be its entirety – brands must be able to find ways to mine useful data insights without over dependency on just the tech giants. This means finding ways to share data with and from partners in a privacy-centric manner. To do so, they must pivot the entire business to become privacy-first, and thereby ensure data practices hold up for the long term.

Read more from Carolyn: The cookie is dead: Long live identity graphs

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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