What Happens When The Google Cookie Crumbles?

Prepare for the Google Cookie Apocalypse by pivoting your marketing strategy away from ad targeting to people-based marketing.

Having lost its taste for them, Google announced it would be shutting down support for third-party cookies within the next two years. Third-party cookies are those pesky crumbs generated by third parties utilizing targeting pixels to collect marketing-relevant info and user behavior data. Privacy regulations are changing the web we’ve come to know, and Google is playing along by moving towards other methods that will enhance user’s privacy while also handing advertisers more control and in-depth information into user behavior. The catch, advertisers need to make astute decisions on how they gather and use this precious data without third-party cookies.

Navigating this new environment will mean great things for some, while others will get left behind, the key difference between the two, getting offline. Those companies that rely heavily on data and clicks to tell them how to move forward need to rethink their strategy quickly. In reality, in an app-based society, a strategy do-over for these companies is already long overdue. This new cookie-less world will hopefully be the push they need to catch up with the times. Those companies using offline methods to gather information about their buyer’s journey or engage in direct interaction with their customers online and through apps will come through the other side of the cookie-less world on top.

The cookies have yet to crumble, and until they do, here are a few tips to consider to pivot your marketing strategy away from third party cookies and towards a people-based, content-rich marketing strategy.

Good deeds and great ethics get noticed

Consumers are making it loud and clear that their buying motives are no longer solely about the product or price. There is a definite trend that people are now willing to pay a little more to support companies they feel are doing good things in the world. Customers want to see that the companies they buy from are about more than making money. They want to stand behind companies that support worthy causes, use sustainable materials, and make every effort to conduct business ethically.

People also want to know their patronage is going towards companies that treat their employees well. Word of mouth advertising is vital in our social media world, and employees are company mouthpieces armed with a megaphone. Their messaging can be positive or negative with ripple effects. Treat them like gold, and they will share their praises far and wide, especially when it comes to sharing what the company stands for.

Google saying goodbye to third party cookies Photo by Donald Giannatti on Unsplash

Give a little to get a lot

To entice people to hand over their information, sweeten the deal by offering promotions or setting up a loyalty program. Loyalty programs are a particularly good idea because you get every ounce of data, whether online or offline, giving you a full picture of the user experience. The best part, you’ll have complete control of the data, be sure to keep data security top of mind. And your promotions should offer good if not great value. I have seen social media justice unleashed on companies advertising ‘specials’ that were not good deals. Loyalty has value, and your special offers should reflect that.

Contextual Marketing takes center stage

Contextual marketing should be the pillar of most inbound marketing strategies, relevant content guided by your targeted consumer behaviors, and pushed through channels that already cater to your demographic. For contextual marketing to work, you need to understand what content works best, how to position it, and where. For example, a mechanic’s website would be a great place to advertise a promotion for tires, not so great for diapers. It’s an age-old strategy surging back to life and will once again become an essential tool in the years to come.

Think of it as contextual advertising 2.0, though, because this time around people don’t want to be sold to, they want to be informed and entertained. What does that mean for advertisers? It means excellent content is still king. Instead of posting a traditional advertisement or banner ad on a mechanic’s website to promote tires, make a funny video of someone changing a tire and getting it wrong or an article about what makes winter tires different.

Gather consumer data first hand

People interact with brands online across multiple devices and in apps, which makes tracking behavior a challenge with a lot of user information slipping through the cracks, which means wasted time and money advertising to people that have already bought from you. All this can be solved by getting your customers’ data first hand. By gathering data through e-mail lists and placing Google and Facebook pixels on your website, you have complete and controlled access to information to help make informed marketing decisions.

Get your hand out of the cookie jar

In the very least, what you need to know as we walk into this new cookie-less, horizon is not to get caught with your hand in the third-party cookie jar too much longer. Look to strategies that not only resonate with your customer but also respects their privacy.

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