In a world without cookies, look to your martech

Third-party cookies have been a staple in the digital marketing playbook for years. These once-powerful pieces of digital data enable marketers to collect browsing information, serve and retarget ads, and measure the result of those ads (like a transaction or a page visit, for instance).

It’s no wonder brands are reluctant to let them go even in the face of data deprecation.

But the reality is, these digital identifiers are about to become obsolete. More than half of U.S. web activity on browsers, like Safari and Firefox, currently don’t accept third-party cookies, and with Google’s promise to eliminate them from Chrome in 2025, brands relying on them to deliver and track campaigns will soon be in the dark.

So, what’s a brand to do? According to recently published research from Epsilon, “Preparing for a world without third-party cookies,” 60% of marketers surveyed are focusing on expanding their first party data strategies in light of third-party cookie deprecation.

Embracing the right marketing technology allows brands to maximize their first-party data to create people-based, personalized advertising across the open web.

Why martech matters

First-party data strategies set the stage for long-term growth and resilience. Why? Because this rich data is full of incredible insights about consumers and paves the way for a closed-loop system where you can launch campaigns, measure success and continually learn from that performance. Brands begin controlling their own destiny when they’re not relying on weak identifiers like third-party cookies.

While powerful, first-party data is not useful on its own. To get the most out of your data, it needs to be usable: organized, cleaned and enhanced for use.

The right martech solutions help build and optimize that first-party data asset by unlocking deeper insights about current and prospective customers, including information once captured by third-party cookies. This knowledge drives better personalization and reduces ad waste by delivering relevant content to those who actually want it.

What martech will get you there?

Martech solutions can run the gamut. Identifying which solutions help set the foundation for your first-party data strategy and move it along will depend on a few factors: What are your use cases and goals, how much data do you have, and how much could be available to you?

Customer data platforms (CDPs)

A popular solution is a CDP. According to Epsilon’s survey, 59% of respondents said they’re building out a CDP in response to third-party cookie deprecation. And it’s clear to see why.

CDPs, at their most basic, organize a brand’s first-party data. They offer marketers a single view of their customers that can power omnichannel personalization. At their most powerful, though, CDPs are far more than just repositories.

Coupled with identity resolution, CDPs can clean, organize and enhance first-party data with proprietary and third-party data sets at a massive scale—and on a person-based level. This gives you a full view of who your customers are, individually and in aggregate, that reaches beyond the limited things you already know about them.

Data clean rooms

Data clean rooms are privacy-safe solutions designed for data collaboration between trusted partners. These audience insights tools bring together data, expanding access beyond just the brand’s first-party data, and can be a critical tool in aggregating audiences and segments for media activation.

Like CDPs, clean rooms powered by identity harmonize the data inside it, giving a dynamic and persistent view of customer behaviors, preferences and demographics at the individual-level. This enables precise targeting and audience segmentation, stronger prospecting and better attribution modeling.

Loyalty platforms

While many might not associate it with a first-party data strategy, a loyalty program can be extremely useful when building one. These data-rich environments identify things like purchase behaviors, audience categories, what kind of rewards a customer likes and how they’re incentivized to do certain actions.

Loyalty programs essentially become a huge data map for your most loyal customers, so you can anticipate what individuals want, use that to create campaigns and offers that resonate with them, and ultimately measure what is and isn’t working.

And that data can fuel not only 1:1 interactions with individual customers, it can help tell the greater story of your business: Purchasing behaviors and needs, enterprise marketing opportunities, and support for business decisions, to name a few.

Email messaging platforms

Email remains a core strategy for marketers, and as competition for the inbox continues to mount, having the right platform can enhance your first-party data strategy by leaps and bounds. 

Much like CDPs and clean rooms, when an email messaging platform has identity baked into it, it empowers a person-first marketing approach, one that delivers relevant communication to the right people through better journey orchestration. Marketers can pick the best channel or path for customers through all their owned channels, including for unauthenticated (not logged in) customers when they visit your site.  

The impact of connected tech

If martech sets up marketers for success, adtech is what helps you knock your campaigns out of the park.

There's an inherent activation and measurement gap caused by third-party cookie deprecation, but bringing your full tech stack together is what helps you connect the dots across all of those touchpoints--so you know what did (and didn't) work and how that can inform your marketing strategy moving forward.

Maybe even more importantly, a connected tech stack allows you to do person-first marketing. It's a newer term in the marketing world, and it inherently solves for the "third-party cookie" problem:

  • It starts with first-party data. And it ends with first-party data. Marketers who embrace this concept have realized they can’t evolve approaches that were originally built on third-party data to fit a first-party data world.
  • When it comes to using this data to recognize consumers in channels, the foundational element is an understanding of a true person, that is rooted in offline, verified data.
  • The person-first understanding of the consumer is used to unify martech and adtech, ensuring communications are harmonized across paid and owned channels.

Insights then compound over time. With each new activation and campaign, you can identify what worked and what didn’t, and use those insights to inform the next campaign, starting the cycle all over again.

This is why a connected tech stack is essential. Interconnected tech creates a centralized system for all of your marketing and advertising to feed off of. All activations come from the same dynamic data—which reduces fragmentation and maintains data fidelity—and ultimately offer holistic collection that can be unified on a person-level through identity resolution.

You’re creating a closed loop system that continually learns and evolves as your customers and brand do, too. And with things like AI and machine learning, you’re simultaneously building strong predictive models that anticipate your customers' needs.

Experts agree: Connected tech is best 

In a whitepaper sponsored by Epsilon, titled "Customer experience suffers without omnichannel alignment," IDC's Roger Beharry Lall said combining martech and adtech allows brands to create comprehensive data strategies that lay a strong foundation to activate campaigns and media. 

Part of that equation: Identity. 

"By leveraging integrated first-party data and resolving identity at the person level, more accurate targeting of the intended consumers becomes possible — regardless of whether the engagement is executed in advertising, marketing, social, loyalty, or another context," Beharry Lall wrote. 

Identity is at the center of everything we do at Epsilon. Our suite of martech solutions, including Epsilon Customer, a CDP product and Epsilon Clean Room, are powered by CORE ID, an industry-leading identity resolution solution. And, coupled with Epsilon Loyalty, brands can build powerful first-party data assets from the customers who already love them. 

And with Epsilon Digital, you can activate campaigns using that rich data. We offer delivery at scale on platforms that have already deprecated third-party identifiers, including 2.5x more in-market customers on Apple devices and 3x more customers across the open web.

Higher performing ad campaigns require the power of martech and adtech together. In a cookieless world, these tools become essential in building a first-party data strategy that reaches the right customers to deliver better outcomes for you and your customers.dfbdfb