by David Meyer
For years, it has been a delicious resource for many marketers seeking to gain insights into the actions and behaviors of website visitors. “Cookies,” which are small text files with ID tags that interact with a web visitor’s browser to keep track of movements within the site, identify preferences and provide information that can be used to formulate observations about online customers and prospects.
These cookies however, are beginning to crumble. Web browsers like Firefox and Safari have already eliminated them from their interfaces and digital industry giant Google has announced that it will ban third-party cookies in 2023. While the reasons for eliminating this online tracking are typically privacy related (online users are demanding greater transparency and control overhow and where their data is being used), it’s clear that cookies, as we currently know them, are toast. Wait . . . well you get the idea.
So as a marketer, how are you preparing for a cookieless website environment? While some see this situation as a roadblock to customer insights, others see it as an opportunity for new thinking and approaches. Google for instance already has been sharing its ideas for a “Privacy Sandbox,” a revised cookie-like strategy that allows company websites to track web visitors and direct appropriate pop up ads to them, but in a secure environment that also greatly increases user privacy.
Some marketers and advertisers point to this as yet another attempt by Google to strong-arm and control the path to digital customer insights and sales, but there are also other interesting options to consider. Take for instance contextual advertising that allows you to circulate pay-per-click (PPC) ads on websites that rank for similar keywords as your services (i.e., your auto service ads are triggered to appear on automotive enthusiast websites via keywords).
A growing number of marketers and advertisers are also opening their eyes to the unique relationship between online and brand advertising. While one is trackable and one isn’t, there’s a growing sentiment that when they are strategically combined, great things happen – like increased sales that can’t necessarily be tracked to a specific buyer action or behavior (but ultimately, aren’t sales the ultimate measure of success?).
If you’re still one of the website owners mourning the loss of cookies, here’s my advice: be aware, be patient, be adaptable. News about this issue is coming out seemingly weekly. Stay up to date with the latest technology reports and opinions. Continue to explore tried and true cookieless approaches (and new ones, too). And remember, there’s rarely only one path that leads you to a successful destination. You’ll be fine. We all will.
It’s a lot to think about. But there’s a lot to be gained. As a marketer, understanding the customer buyer journey is important and can be inspiring. Ultimately, it’s a great way to set your course for success.
David Meyer is the Chief Marketing Officer at Spoke Marketing. Spoke Marketing (www.spokemarketing.com) provides fully-integrated marketing and sales programs that define and activate the customer buyer journey.