Asia Pacific brands say they’re ready for a cookieless future. Their actions suggest otherwise

Women using a tablet in an office

Intelligent data and analytics underpin exceptional customer experiences in a market where customers expect the best. However, Asia Pacific (APAC) brands remain stuck between a past driven by third-party cookies and a future led by first-party data and are risking market share and customer loyalty today and a competitive edge tomorrow.

Set of 3 infographic pie chats showing: 1. 79% of marketing and CX leaders say they still rely heavily on third party cookies 2. 79% of marketing and CX leaders plan to increase spending on cookie-dependent activations this year. 3. 52% of marketing and CX leaders spend at least half their marketing budgets on cookie-based activities.

In an intensifying battle to maintain hard-won loyalty among customers and acquire new ones, marketing and customer experience leaders across APAC are at a crossroads.

Leaders recognise that data strategies must evolve first to unlock, then remain in step with, evolving customer preferences. Effective targeting is vital to meeting customers’ needs in-the-moment with personalised and empathetic brand interactions. While the timeline for the end of third-party cookies remains uncertain, there’s no doubt that their deprecation is underway.

However, Adobe’s new global survey of 2,600 leaders (including 656 APAC respondents from Australia, New Zealand, and India) shows that 79 percent of APAC brands are increasing investment in cookie-based activations. At the same time, they admit many customers have already moved into cookieless environments.

In fact, compared to other global regions surveyed, APAC organisations are the most likely to concede an over-reliance on cookies. Further, APAC brands are most likely to believe an end to cookies would devastate or significantly hurt their business.

Amid the cookie deprecation across browsers, the research confirms that brands’ inertia is squandering valuable marketing budgets in the short term and threatening competitive advantages in the long term. Encouragingly, APAC brands may already be sitting on the answer.

Preparedness and capability at odds with impact

Across APAC, the research shows that 86 percent of brands say they’re prepared for a cookieless future, which is even higher in India (91 percent). Almost one in two (45 percent) are also accelerating their readiness, and APAC brands consistently rate their data-driven capabilities as some of the highest in the world. These include having a unified view of the customer, honouring privacy and preferences, and delivering personalisation across channels.

However, an outsized number of APAC brands see the end of third-party cookies as potentially devastating. One-third (34 percent) portend this fate, more than twice the global average. But many continue to allocate budgets toward cookie-driven strategies, and 79 percent of APAC brands will increase investment in cookie-dependant activations in 2023, significantly higher than the global average of 64 percent.

Brands are investing where their customers aren’t

The findings suggest APAC brands are finding it difficult to move on. Changing timelines for the ultimate end of cookies is likely contributing to this impasse, particularly given one in three (38 percent) APAC leaders cite a lack of urgency to change their marketing strategy.

Many APAC brands are still overinvesting in cookie-driven strategies, even though they recognise they can’t reach many of their customers. One in three APAC brands say that more than 70 percent of their potential market are on channels where cookies don’t work, such as social media or Apple devices, and nearly half say that 50 percent or more are in cookieless environments.

Infographic with bar graphs, showing: 1. 80% of APAC brands say the end of third-party cookies will hurt their business. 2. 34% say the damange will be devastating. 3. 21% believe it will cause significant harm. 4. 25% believe it will cause a moderate amount of damage.

Unlocking the benefits of first-party data solutions

Clinging to cookies for too long or investing too much may hinder APAC businesses’ ability to drive trust and loyalty in the long run. Prioritising cookie-based targeting also ignores the potential of first-party data solutions, like a customer data platform (CDP).

The benefits of using a CDP are clear. More than half (54 percent) of APAC leaders who use CDPs say they’ve already gained more direct relationships with customers, a rise in customer loyalty (42 percent), and an increase in the number and value of completed transactions (41 percent). CDPs also improve internal workflows, with 46 percent saying it enabled better and faster work across marketing and IT and more efficient ROI production (35 percent).

Infographic showing the impact CDPs are making for brands.

Taking the first steps to CDP journey

What we are talking about here is shifting marketing strategies to focus less on short-term wins and more on robust capabilities that keep pace with the external landscape. Overcommitting to strategies that cannot reach large swathes of customers into the future puts brands at a disadvantage, making it essential to act now.

Our recently released Digital Trends research summed up the trend. In APAC, 65 percent of leaders said that an emphasis on immediate needs had come at the expense of longer-term planning and strategy. The transition from third-party cookies to first-party data is one way to buck the trend.

If you're looking to advance your journey from a third-party cookie to a first-party data strategy, here are steps you can take:

  1. Start small and simplify: Avoid getting held back by analysis paralysis by starting with the minimal data necessary. Identify low-cost, high-impact campaigns or initiatives that can demonstrate success to stakeholders.
  1. Learn and optimise: Testing and optimising different dimensions, messaging, UX/UI design, and targeting rules are vital to improving the customer experience. It's essential to focus on the management itself and where and how it's applied.
  1. Expand your first-party data: While digital interaction and behaviour tools are helpful for understanding where, when, and who your customers are, they don't tell you why they behave the way they do. Consider using user testing or talking to your customer-facing teams to better understand your customers.
  1. Adobe Real-Time Customer Data Platform (Real-Time CDP) now delivers billions of predictive insights a year based on real-time customer profiles. These insights empower teams to engage customers who are likely to buy or may be considering switching to a competitor.