Death of the Cookie: Best Practices to Start Adopting for Marketers

It’s coming, and it’s coming sooner than we may think: the cookie is dying. No, not the chocolate chip varietal that we consume in embarrassing quantities on our couch. The cookie that brings marketers so much information on consumer behavior, the cookie that helps internet browsers provide a more predictive experience for users — that is the type of cookie that is preparing to meet its end.

Data privacy has become the main focus of many internet providers, and starting with Apple’s Safari browser, the cookie that tracks user behavior will soon no longer be able to be used for advertorial or targeting purposes. Does this spell death for the advertising industry? Hardly. This new development will simply create more challenges and require more innovation from marketers in order to still find the consumers that fit their target demographic.

For marketers, finding new or more creative ways to reach consumers will now be more important than ever. And is consumer behavior tracking going to cease to exist altogether? Hardly not. However, the data will no longer be readily served up on a silver platter as more browsers pivot to privacy-first initiatives.

To be clear, the cookie isn’t altogether disappearing. However, more power is being given to consumers now to block those cookies from being utilized as actively as they currently are. If you’re seeing more pop-ups on websites that you visit asking you to consent to cookie use, this is the reason why.

And so, marketers must begin operating with the assumption that many consumers will begin to opt-out of cookie use, meaning their movements online will become more difficult to track. The biggest winners in this scenario? Direct-to-consumer brands, which are ripe with first-party customer data due to their lack of middlemen. For the rest of the brands, however, some innovations will be required.

Creativity will come into play when determining the winners and losers from this new environment and race for consumer attention and dollars. Brands will need to take more steps to get closer to their consumers. This can mean more in-person interactions, more personal messaging, and more customizable options for products or services. Now, it’s no longer solely about following a consumer around the internet and showing them ads. Now, marketers must try to reach and engage with that target consumer on the first touch and not rely so heavily on retargeting.

Engaging content can help with this. What will prompt a consumer to click an ad or interact with a piece of content on the first touch? What will eliminate the need for retargeting? Reducing bounce rates on a company’s website is a good place to start with this. Using tools such as Google Analytics, take a dive into each page on the website or each landing page available and find out where potential customers are dropping off.

Perhaps the copy or imagery on the page with the highest bounce rate, complete with more calls to action, can help entice the consumer to become a customer. Using analytics to see where your page is performing well and where it isn’t can help increase the conversions from the ads being run, even with less targeting available.

As the digital marketing environment continues to evolve, it will be interesting to see how the third party cookie changes will affect consumer engagement and advertiser sales. In the meantime, marketers will benefit from being willing to pivot and to use their innovative skills to reach consumers in a more authentic way than ever before.