The future of targeted marketing without cookies is here, and cookie-less platforms are only going to become more and more prevalent. Apple’s Safari was the first mainstream browser to block third-party cookies as a default in 2020, and as a result, Google announced shortly after that they will follow suit on Chrome in 2022.
With the two main browsers blocking third-party cookies as the default setting, we can only expect other platforms and browsers to follow in their footsteps in creating a more private browsing experience. With these releases, the way that you build out your target audience and advertise to them is going to see a major shift.
Hyper-Targeting with First-Party Cookies
Hyper-targeting with third-party cookies is no longer an option. Marketers are not going to be able to hyper-personalize an ad based on third-party data and target a specific group of individuals on the internet. However, first-party data is here to stay (as far as we know). You can utilize this data for hyper-targeting, but the information you have is limited. You will be able to see what a user did when visiting your site, the frequency at which they visit it, and other basic analytics, but you will not be able to see any data on what that user did on other websites that you are not affiliated with.
Now, factor in the consumer and their online experience. 47% of consumers have begun to install ad blockers, hide ads, report ads, and/or block the company – all to make sure that they are protecting their privacy and seeing ads that they want to see. Companies like Google and Apple have been adapting to consumer preferences by implementing measures to remove these extra steps in the consumer’s online experience.
From the consumer’s point of view, having their third-party data blocked from advertisers is going to make their experience on the internet more personalized and private. From a marketer’s perspective, the consumer’s ad experience is going to be less personalized because we won’t know as much about the consumer’s habits, interests, and preferences. However, marketers need to look at this challenge from the consumer’s point of view and think about how we can make their online ad experience as personalized as possible while respecting their privacy preferences.
If your business doesn’t already have personas developed for targeting, now is the time to really get to know and build your audience. There are marketing/agency services that can be hired to do this kind of testing, or your team can sit down and brainstorm who your customers are, why they are purchasing from you, and what led them to you in the first place. This is going to put your company’s brand to work, but in the end, you and your team will have developed a deeper knowledge and understanding of who exactly it is you are targeting. In addition, the consumer is more likely to feel heard and understood when they are served an ad from your company and may be compelled to act on the CTA because this ad was made with them in mind. This notion is what our jobs are all about and what the consumers are looking for when they go online.
After you have developed your personas, it is time to formalize what they mean to your company, but more specifically to your marketing team. Get creative with the documentation you and your team use to formalize each persona. It can be delivered in a variety of ways:
- Slide document divided into sections for each persona
- A page on an internal site
- Digital booklet
By spelling out who exactly your audiences are, you are making your life and the team’s life easier. This process is going to force you to look your audience in the eyes and tell them who you think they are. This may seem like a daunting task, but there are ways to make this process more creative than simply making a list of demographics:
- Associate each persona with a color scheme and/or font on your site
- Find stock images that match each persona or go out with your team and take them yourself
- Use terminology that demonstrates your knowledge of the persona’s needs
Once this portion of the process is complete, start to think about the language you will use to target each persona. Make sure the brand voice is still present in the ad copy and imagery, but think about how you can adapt your brand’s voice to fit each unique persona. This is what is really going to drive the consumer deeper into the funnel, and this is the perfect opportunity for your team to implement testing across different personas to figure out what language, imagery, and landing pages works best for each one.
A cookie-less world doesn’t seem so bad. There are creative opportunities to advance your targeting strategies without third-party data.
Take the time to sit down with your team and get to know your audience. Begin developing strong content to advertise to each persona in order to find out what resonates the most. By developing persona-based content, your marketing team’s efforts and strategy will develop deeper connections with consumers. They’ll feel like your company really gets who they are and what they want.
Your audience will continue to evolve as your company evolves, and it is only going to enhance your targeting and overall strategy as third-party data continues to disappear.