Cookie-based targeting (or retargeting) has dominated digital marketing strategies for almost as long as the ad platforms existed. Google’s March 3, 2021 post confirms what they’ve been telling us for a while: the cookie is going away.
While this will mean some disruption in the short-term, in the long-run this change is a good thing for marketers and users alike.
Here are three big reasons you should be excited about a cookieless world:
Digital marketing has never been able to shake the “creep” factor. For as long as there has been cookie based targeting, we’ve never been able to shake the feeling that Google was watching us/eavesdropping.
Visiting a site, adding an item to a cart, or any other action that marketers asked the ad platform to track, would put the user into an audience. Once tagged, the advertiser could serve specific creative to that prospect.
Cookies allow marketers to target you based on interests and buying intent:
- Searching for content.
- Going to specific websites in a regular cadence.
- Adding items to shopping carts
They are why you’d start getting ads for car insurance while shopping for cars. You were “in-market” based on your browsing history.
One of my favorite cookie based strategies is to use “target and observe” with in-market audiences. I’d let my competitors pay for the lower quality traffic, while I reserved my ad spend for those who already demonstrated buying intent.
In a cookieless world, this strategy is obsolete.
The only way to target a prospect is if you earn their trust (and their email). Your competitors won’t be able to snipe your people just because they happened to go to your site and bounce.
Takeaway: No more creepy ads – only ones you were expecting and are happy to see!
Google’s all in on first-party targeting
Customer match (targeting users based on their email), has mixed usage. Beyond the minimum 1000 users in a 30 day period, advertisers would need to meet the following criteria:
- $50,000 lifetime spend
- Active for at least 90 days
- No policy violations
While we don’t know if the criteria will change, Google’s take inspires a lot of hope:
“Developing strong relationships with customers has always been critical for brands to build a successful business, and this becomes even more vital in a privacy-first world. We will continue to support first-party relationships on our ad platforms for partners, in which they have direct connections with their own customers. And we’ll deepen our support for solutions that build on these direct relationships between consumers and the brands and publishers they engage with.”
Creating experiences that entice users to build long-term relationships with your brand is the path to message mapping creatives. It’s exciting that Google is incentivizing brands to focus on the human and creative elements of conversion rate optimization (CRO), rather than robotic rules.
Takeaway: When one audience door closes, another opens!
Putting the create back in creative
Digital marketing historically is bound by two schools:
- Keep old things because they have data and algorithms and bottom lines love data.
- Always be testing new things because you can always innovate on what you have.
Now that marketers will have extra incentive to create engaging user experiences, we’ll finally have the freedom to test wild and crazy ideas.
Controlling for variables remains important, and there should always be a certain degree of consistency in your tests. Whether it’s adapting a promotion or call to action, be bold in your creative.
Mapping the right message to the right user will come down to clever creative born of intent. Don’t be afraid to parlay what you know about your target personas into your tests.
Takeaway: Cookie targeting is going away – creativity is not!
Adjusting to this new reality will take a minute, but digital marketers who take charge and use tools that empower them to not only own their own data but continue to build relationships with customers will come out just fine.
Justuno Plus features several tools to help you stay ahead of the competition in CRO and audience curation. If you’d like to explore how Justuno Plus can help you and your brand own your audiences, set up a demo here!
Navah is the Director of Paid Media at Justuno, an AI CRO software suite. A veteran of the digital marketing industry, she began as an SEO in 2008, transitioning to PPC in 2012. She manages the strategy and execution of paid media integrations, as well as building relationships with agency partners.
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