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serious young man in glasses working with black screen computer in the evening SBI 3028493241 - Business Express
Serious young man in glasses working with black screen computer in the evening

The Era of Cookies is Over: What’s Next for Digital Marketers?

By: Quentin Paquot, CEO of Qualifio

132 - Business Express

The digital advertising industry thrives off the use of cookies – the treasure trove of private information that helps brands identify target audiences. Many media buying strategies and advertising campaigns across the globe depend on these text files of small data. However, change is on its way. Both Safari and Firefox have already blocked third-party cookies from their browsers, and Google recently announced the scheduled end of third-party cookies from its browser, Chrome, by 2023.

The death of cookies has been apparent for some time, but Google’s statement has only made the situation clearer to brands, sending shockwaves through the advertising and marketing industries. How will they overcome the progressive disappearance of cookies? And what solutions are available to replicate the results delivered by cookies?

Controversy around Cookies

Cookies are small sections of code that are added to a user’s web browser, gathering information as  they search and explore the internet. The type of data collected can range from simply remembering a user’s internet search history, to tracking any personal information they enter online. All of this data is gathered to generate a more personalised experience, allowing advertisers and marketers to target consumers with relevant content in line with their perceived preferences.

This method of marketing requires comprehensive data analysis, hands-on experts and cutting-edge technology, making it a complicated and expensive process. However, since the strict enforcement of GDPR policies came into place back in 2018 in Europe, users are continuing to become evermore conscious about how their data is being used. It was only a matter of time before consumers started questioning the methods of how their data is being collected and stored.

Cookies are a controversial topic. While many accept cookie access when first opening web pages, questions remain over how many people actually understand what they are agreeing to. Furthermore, from a consumer perspective, it is difficult to tell what happens to this data once it is collected. Suddenly, doubts are cast for users on the legitimacy and security of their online presence, to the point where they would now prefer to refuse granting permissions.

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The problem for digital marketers now is that without cookies, many will struggle to collect the data required to conduct their campaigns.

What to expect post-cookies

Without GDPR compliant access to consumer information, determining return on investment of any activity becomes more difficult, and publishers could soon struggle to sell advertising space, and for brands, conducting accurate marketing campaigns will become significantly more challenging. The answer for brands and publishers alike lies in leveraging interactive content that facilitates the collection of first- and zero-party data.

Interactive content encourages active engagement from consumers – including tools such as quizzes, surveys, infographics and polls. By integrating gamification and offering prizes for participants who sign up, brands can create a highly user friendly experience for audiences while collecting consented data. This benefits all parties involved. For advertisers, interactive content drives 47% more viewing time compared to a non-interactive ad, this generates higher engagement and return on investment. For consumers, they are able to engage in entertaining content that they enjoy whilst being safe in the knowledge their data is only being shared with the direct company. Publishers also successfully sell advertising space, especially monetising their audience, while providing better value to the consumer in exchange for their data.

Interactive content transforms what could be seen as simple static information, into something that engages consumers and builds trust in brands through the process of gamification. Furthermore, the data that is collected can include email addresses, phone numbers and demographical information to win games, which not only benefits brand campaigns in the short term, but also provides a platform on which they can develop a long-term relationship with the consumer.

How to get ahead

It will be the brands that react the quickest to the removal of cookies, who will receive the most significant advantage over others. Those brands who do not begin to act now will be unprepared for a cookieless world, and will struggle to collect their own data.

In order to get ahead, brands must begin generating their own first- and zero-party data through interactive content. Once they have this data, they will be able to leverage it to learn more about their target audience, and will better understand how they can target consumers for future campaigns. These pieces of interactive content can also be used to generate high levels of community around the brand, increasing levels of loyalty and generating higher return on investment.

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