Cookies, privacy, and marketing roadblocks


This isn’t news for brand marketers, but I need a fitting intro. At Signals21 this week, we took a deep dive into how Google has cemented plans to comprehensively curtail third-party cookie tracking within the next couple of years, and Firefox, Safari et al. are scrambling to follow suit. Throw in Apple’s recent changes to its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA) and privacy legislation sweeping the globe, the way in which marketers connect with consumers is undergoing radical and irretrievable change.

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The numbers are compelling. The 2021 Digital Consumer Trends Index polled over 5,000 global consumers, and 66% declared that ads based on cookies and tracked behavior were creepy, not cool. Furthermore, numbers show a mere 4% of Apple users are opting into app tracking for advertisers, and that number is predicted to only dwindle.

It’s unlikely Google FLoC (cohort-based advertising) is going to be the silver bullet, and I like to think as marketers, we’ve matured beyond shouty spray-and-pray advertising formats. There isn’t going to be a magic replacement for the cookie, so what do marketers do next to deliver more personalization and also meet privacy demands?

To move forward and build lasting, more meaningful relationships with consumers, marketers need to embrace the zero-party data economy. 

Zero-party data is the gold standard of data, and it’s the rocket fuel behind the true personalization consumers crave today. It’s defined as a class of data “a consumer voluntarily and intentionally shares with a brand.” Unlike first- and third-party data, this means zero-party data can go beyond past behaviors and preferences to offer insights into people’s motivations, intentions, and interests. Zero-party data allows brands to build direct relationships with consumers and, in turn, better personalize their marketing efforts, offers, and product recommendations.

This may sound a lot like first-party data with a 2019 rebrand, but zero-party data is collected directly from your customers and not by using cookies. Alas, it’s not simply a case of ask, and you shall receive – digital consumers are more scrupulous than ever when it comes to handing over their personal details and preference data. You need to offer a value exchange.

Consumers need to be entertained, engaged and receive something in return for their attention and preference data. Brand marketers can deliver this through interactive experiences that conduct research, accrue opt-ins and deliver an altogether better experience with a value exchange for the consumer. Questionnaires, polls, quizzes, contests or social stories can incorporate reward mechanics that give consumers a genuine reason to engage and submit their first- and zero-party data. 

Moving to a zero-party data strategy means that your audience building and profiling doesn’t stop, but that it also allows for change. This keeps your data accurate, relevant and current because the data points come directly from your audience. For proactive marketers, there has never been a better time to explore a zero-party data strategy.

Register for Signals21 for more insight on how marketers can tackle the biggest challenges they face today.

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About The Author

Cheetah Digital is a cross-channel customer engagement solution provider for the modern marketer.

The Cheetah Digital Customer Engagement Suite enables marketers to create personalized experiences that collect zero-party data at scale, powering cross-channel messaging, and loyalty strategies. All underpinned by an engagement data platform that can scale to meet the changing demands of today’s consumer.

Many of the world’s best brands, including American Express, Hilton, Coca-Cola, and Vodafone trust Cheetah Digital to help them drive revenue, build lasting customer relationships, and deliver a unique value exchange throughout the customer lifecycle.



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