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4 powerful alternatives to third-party cookie personalization

The majority of marketers are worried about the impact on ROI and the inability to personalize their marketing efforts when 3PC go away. 

With leading web browsers transitioning away from third-party cookies, marketers are searching for an alternative, and exploring whether effective personalisation will still be possible in an age when privacy comes first.  

In a nutshell

An Epsilon survey conducted in 2021 revealed the majority of marketers are worried about the impact on ROI and the inability to personalize their marketing efforts, when third-party cookies are finally phased out across major web browsers in 2023. 

Deeper dive 

Despite concerns, however, marketers will still have powerful personalisation tools at their disposal if they are able to generate and leverage their own first-party customer data.  

Here are just four of the options open to marketers, discussed by David Simms, Business Development Director at Epsilon, in a recent podcast.

Much of the discussion focused on consumer demands for privacy, as well opposing demands for personalized experiences, tailored marketing messages and the convenience of being shown online content relevant to their needs.

  • First party cookies to develop targeted campaigns 

Even though the use of third-party cookie data won’t be possible for much longer, it doesn’t mean digital marketers can’t use first-party data to help develop personalized advertising campaigns. “For many advertisers, first party data will be a very important element of their marketing and CRM. With education, customers can be willing to exchange their information in order to improve their experience,” said podcast participant Istvan Kozari, Global Head of Digital Media at home cybersecurity firm Kaspersky 

With first-party cookies it is possible to collect information such as a user’s login information, language preferences, location, and device type. From this vantage point, brands can make informed marketing and advertising decisions. In addition, loyalty schemes and the CMS will also provide valuable insights, informing campaigns and opening up a world of personalization possibilities. 

  • Email marketing to circulate content and ads 

Using email marketing as a third-party cookie alternative is recommended. This is because brands send personalized content to an engaged audience who have given their permission. With the right email marketing software and quality content in front of the email audience, brands will gain valuable insights and make even more informed decisions based on this real-time data. It is possible to segment your email audience for a more targeted approach. 

For brands that don’t yet have a strong email presence, now is the time to start building an email list and creating more personalised campaigns. Google’s cookie extension to the end of 2023 provides a window of opportunity to scale up the number of known users. But brands must remember to keep lists bang up-to-date and stick closely to GDPR rules. 

  • New solutions designed to replace third-party cookies 

New tools and programs are already in development to replace third-party cookies. “They are all very interesting,” said Istvan Kozari. “Whether you are looking at the solutions seen at the end of 2020 from Google, or those coming out from Microsoft, these are worth exploring.” 

One of the latest solutions, currently available to test, is Google’s solution through Privacy Sandbox called FLoC. It collects user information in groups without identifying any specific individual. Digital marketers can expect many more third-party cookie alternatives to become available in the coming year. 

  • Contextual advertising that connects at a content level 

One industry estimate is that contextual advertising spend will quadruple in the next five years, said Istvan Kozari. He noted: “Customers also like it because they find it a more natural connection.”  

With ‘extra time’ having been granted by Google, advertisers have some leeway to test publisher data and contextual targeting before their full switch away from third-party data use takes place, noted podcast participant Jon Beebe, Senior VP of Marketing & Customer Experience at Epsilon US. “Although not all brands are in categories that have a lot of relevant content written about them,” he added. 

Advertisers can work with online publishers to put context to the test and explore how specific segments, custom-built for each campaign, can drive performance. Advertisers who can create a user journey, including content, which allows customers to reveal more information about themselves through the actions they take, will generate their own valuable reservoir of first-party data. 

Bottom line

Brands are advised to start researching cookie alternatives in earnest right now. There are a host of solutions already available to marketers to meet targeting and personalization needs, beyond the much-maligned third-party cookie.

Explore further

You can find out more about alternatives to third-party cookies in digital marketing by listening to the full podcast.