Ending a Reliance on Cookies and Walled Gardens for Good

Originally posted on PerformanceIN

As brands put more resources behind the acquisition and management of big data, marketers are feeling increased pressure to leverage this data to reach customers across the open web effectively.

Throughout this process, several questions arise: where should the data come from? What are acceptable ways to collect and use the data? And how can we guarantee the data’s accuracy?

The majority of today’s internet users understand that ads fund the free content they enjoy across the web, and to maintain on-going access to this free content, consumers are increasingly willing to hand-over more of their personal data for a digital experience that’s tailored specifically to them. With that said, marketers still aren’t fully putting their first-party consumer data to good use. The question is: why not?

Outdated technology

The unfortunate answer is that marketers still rely on the cookie – a 22-year-old bit of technology that paints an unreliable picture of people online via probabilistic deduction. To understand why the cookie isn’t an effective means of establishing a single view of a consumer online in today’s multi-device environment, consider this: the average home now contains nine different internet-connected devices, two-thirds of which don’t support cookies.

So, as consumers’ online behaviours become more fluid across devices, the cookie becomes more and more ineffective – so much so, that it can no longer accurately track how people search and purchase goods and services online.

To overcome the challenges posed by cookies, one option for brands is to partner with companies like Facebook, Amazon and Twitter to leverage their massive first-party registered user databases. The ease of access to registered user data through these partners is obvious – after all, who wouldn’t want to reach millions of consumers’ with personalised brand messages?

The issue with partnering with companies like Facebook, Amazon and Twitter is that they’re walled gardens – meaning that their data can’t be shared outside of their own ecosystems – a very limiting prospect.

But many marketers, however, aren’t necessarily aware of the alternative solution that allows them to end their reliance on cookies, and walled gardens, for good. All it takes is a CMO who is willing to disrupt the status quo.

Something new

CMOs just need to know what they’re looking for and how the data they’re often sitting on top of can be used to maximize digital reach, and ultimately, revenue.  First-party online data includes not only website interactions such as registration and subscription data volunteered by consumers, but also information inferred or observed during their visits. All of this behavioral data, gained first-hand through customer interactions, is significantly more robust and reliable than data acquired from other sources.

When you thread this together with other ‘offline’ customer datasets – such as retail, FMCG and financial services transactions, or even vehicle ownership – then match it with online behavior and tie it to an actual online identity, you can better reach real people with messages that take into account who they are, where they are, and what they want.

Ultimately, the proof is in the data. When brands are able to successfully harness the full myriad of first-party data both online and offline, the results speak for themselves. To reach this level of accuracy and efficiency requires a willingness to take greater control over the first-party data that already exists, and to use it to better understand what your customers want and when they want it.