Most data professionals believe there won’t be a crumb of data left after third-party cookies disappear in 2023. Consumers, who don’t like being tracked, are thrilled. But companies are left with finding better ways to collect data from current and potential customers — all with their full knowledge and consent.

Companies can start by incentivizing customers to willingly provide their own data in exchange for offers, exclusive content, and tailored recommendations. With these efforts, custom forms will be the new cross-property tracking. People-based identifiers will be the new programmatic advertising. In short, when it comes to cookies, first party will be the new third party.

These changes benefit marketers too. With third-party cookies, advertisers believed that more targeting equaled more relevant ads — and better business outcomes. However, a recent study revealed that when Chase showed ads on 400,000 websites, it yielded no better outcomes than showing ads on just 5,000 websites.

Scenarios like this promise to give customers more control over their experience, and marketers the ability to create more effective campaigns. This is first-party cookies done right, and getting there requires updated techniques.

It takes knowledge of emerging marketing trends and best practices to win in this era of cookies — a new era built around legitimate, two-way relationships with customers.

Today, companies rely on personalization, reaching known customers, and prospecting to target audiences and activate their data across channels. These audience targeting use cases won’t disappear when third-party cookie data is no longer available — but in the meantime, marketers struggle with how to approach these use cases.

As third-party cookies fade, companies are challenged by tracking unrecognized or first-time visitors to their websites. Currently, companies use third-party cookies and mobile advertising IDs (MAIDs) to collect audience data via onboarders, data providers, and cross-domain tracking. When these approaches are gone, one question hanging over marketers’ heads is how to target ads effectively.

For reaching known customers, many companies today turn to demand-side platforms (DSPs), or automated buying platforms, where advertisers and agencies can go to purchase digital ad inventory. Instead, companies will have to deal with new ways to approach DSPs that support people-based IDs. Most DSPs do not currently support them, and for those that do, scale is still a concern.

The future of prospecting looks bright with known audience lookalikes, emerging partner ID solutions, and contextual targeting trending upwards. But until then, companies must deal with redefining the “target audience” to find new customers. With the programmatic targeting of unknown audiences trending downwards, companies need to find new approaches to prospecting that don’t depend on third-party cookies or MAIDs.

More and more marketers are shifting resources toward the practice of developing customer journeys — and keeping customers after going through all the effort to cultivate them. But to get to that stage, companies must retool their customer acquisition stack to remove exclusive dependency on third-party cookies and evolve it from tactical to strategic.

Minimize the impact

Getting ahead of the discontinuation takes a proactive — not reactive — approach. Companies have built their advertising strategies around third-party tracking cookies, so to minimize the impact of their demise, now is a good time to re-strategize from the ground up.

Collect omnichannel data

While third-party cookies gather web and mobile data, first-party cookie data will be collected data from all customer touchpoints — from the call center, to chatbots, to point of sale. By unifying first-party data from multiple channels, you can begin to identify the “ant trails” to success that turn prospects into consenting customers.

Use real-time personalization and intelligence

Getting customers to enter their personal information along each step of the customer journey ensures you get the data you need before their next click. Once you know your omnichannel data insights, you’ll need to use it to inform customer experiences — all of which is possible with Adobe Experience Platform solutions like event data, streaming segmentation, offer decisioning, and personalization.

Orchestrate the customer journey

Using first-party data puts marketers in a good position to develop and optimize the customer journey. These journeys take three stages: getting repeat business from customers, raising their lifetime value, and remediating journeys to fight attrition. In each stage, it’s crucial for marketers to tout their offerings across multiple channels in a tailored way.

Become an expert on first party-driven advertising

First-party advertising targets customers based on their own consent and interest. It replaces the dependence on third-party cookies with one on first-party IDs. Customer consent is married to behavioral and media data, that can be scaled to personalize at the one-to-one level. First party-driven advertising lets you use more trusted, reputable data to:

  • Prospect between publishers and advertisers based on a combination of look-alike models and data collected from a partner.
  • Expand audiences by bringing identity partner data assets into play.
  • Bring that data full circle to identify what components contributed to converting prospects into customers.

All in all, minimizing impact means building a first-party infrastructure. When you shift dependence from third-party cookies to first-party durable IDs like email or phone number then you can go on to develop customer journey maps with both online and offline data, helping you determine how prospects become authenticated customers.

Five marketing tactics and how they’ll trend

One of the hardest things about this year is deciding how to move forward with a degree of uncertainty. In this environment, it’s critical that you’re able to stay agile, prioritize scale, and adapt to any change in legislation regarding what will or won’t be possible without third-party cookies.

Here’s a look at five common marketing tactics and how we see them trending amidst the cookie shake-up.

1. Personalizing content with first-party cookies

In the near future, data will be used via authenticated first-party cookies and first-party app identifiers to enrich the customer experience. These insights can be generated through artificial intelligence and machine learning, which will also be used to classify browsers into audiences through real-time customer data profiles. Companies will be able to gain direct access to behavioral data, attributes, segment memberships, and more. This way, the future of personalization will provide richer profiles far beyond the binary of trait and segment qualification used today.

2. Reaching known customers

Companies can expect rapid industry change that will require flexible activation on additional IDs. There will be an expansion in walled gardens, from the number of platforms (like Twitter and LinkedIn) to types of IDs (like mobile numbers), with real-time customer data profiles (CDPs). Companies can also take advantage of the growth in DSPs, and a resurgence in direct buys. Marketers who succeed in reaching known customers will activate partner- and people-based IDs in an open, agnostic manner.

3. Finding prospects

In redefining the “target audience,” companies will need to match high-value customer profiles with publishers’ authenticated audiences, target customers directly (or use them as a seed for lookalike modeling and expansion), integrate with identity partners, and reach customers with relevant messaging based on page content. These steps will ensure success no matter how the industry transforms.

4. Measuring the value of customer data

A new priority should be switching to the “cost per authentication” metric. Unifying around this metric can help companies prepare for a future without third-party cookies. It’s defined by a focus on customizing the exact moment to capture first-party data, with the goal to:

  • Personalize the experience based on each user’s custom click behavior
  • Discover the precise sequence in your customer journey that maximizes first-party data provided with consent
  • Understand when customers abandon your site without providing personal info

5. Prioritizing customer trust

Companies won’t get anywhere without their customers’ trust. This is especially true in a future without third-party cookies where it’s critical to build trust with customers by respecting and protecting their privacy.

Learn how your cookies can work for you

Inform and educate your teams about third- versus first-party cookies, and make sure you’re ready for when data deprecation starts to impact your business. Conducting a cookie audit will require everyone to understand what a future without third-party cookies looks like. By getting teams in the know sooner, changes will be less likely to impact your organization’s customer experience.