A: Marketers are tasked with a lot of different responsibilities. They are responsible for nurturing consumers across several stages of their relationship with a brand — from brand discovery, to engagement, to conversion, to the building of a long-term relationship between the brand and the consumer. The stages that will be most impacted by the cookie changes are the beginning stages — during these early interactions with a brand, users have not provided contact information. Today, marketers depend on cookies to identify these unknown users when they browse through a website, interact with digital advertising, and return to the website.
Marketers have endured technological shifts before, but this one happens to be more disruptive because of the stages it impacts — the stages before a user has converted from prospect to customer.
To understand this better, let’s say you have a popular home improvement company and you want to start marketing your home and garden products through digital advertising. To figure out who to market to, maybe you purchase data from an external vendor to identify users who engage with DIY content and who might be most interested in your products. This data is often attached to third-party cookies and can be used to build a user segment with this information. Then, based on this segment, you can give a personalized offer to visitors to your site to these users who engage with DIY content.
As it stands now, if a user happens to browse your site on their Google Chrome browser and wanders away, you could spend some extra budget to use marketing technology to retarget them based on third-party cookies — essentially following them across social media and web sites to encourage them to re-engage with your brand. This approach is one that some consumers are frustrated with, and one that will be more difficult to execute for prospects or unknown site visitors in the future.
Without third-party cookies, if a user engages with a brand’s website and leaves without making a purchase or providing contact information (e.g. subscribing to a newsletter), that prospect cannot be targeted for 1:1 retargeting. This is worrisome for marketers who have built a lot of their strategy around data-driven segments designed using third-party cookies for personalization and optimization. Without these cookies, marketers won’t be able to make the same types of segments for potential customers.