Thriving in the Cookieless world: first party data and the role of the CDP

With privacy policies and legislation making third-party data increasingly unreliable, customer-facing companies will need to rely on their own first-party customer data. The Customer Data Platform (CDP) is likely to play a critical role in this shift in strategy.

Over the last few years, a variety of different measures and treads have made it harder for companies to track and target consumers using third party data – data aggregated by companies with no direct relationship with the end user.

Consumers themselves are also becoming much more vocal in the defence of their own privacy: for example, the Consumer Tech Association’s March 2022 Data Privacy survey into U.S. Consumer Attitudes & Behaviours found that as many as two-thirds of adults have significant privacy concerns over internet-based technology.

The upshot of this is that we can no longer look to third-party data to provide the consumer insights that fuel sales and marketing strategies. This is massive upheaval for the 88% of marketers that say they use data obtained by third parties to enhance their understanding of each customer. Instead, we must harvest that data directly from those consumers with whom we are in contact. This has several implications for sales and marketing professionals.

Firstly, we must do all we can – whether through newsletters, trail offers, free downloads, high-value content, or any other mechanism – to persuade consumers to provide us with their contact details. But this is only the first and most obvious step towards a coherent and comprehensive first party data strategy.

Not starting from scratch

Most organisations – and all large organisations – already have a wealth of first party information about their customers. However, it is impossible to create the unified, omnichannel experiences we want to deliver when much of that data is trapped in siloes. In fact, over half (54%) of companies say that their biggest challenge in delivering truly data-driven marketing success is the lack of data quality and completeness. This situation is likely to worsen with new channels – such as TikTok and connected TV – now entering mainstream use in marketing campaigns.

In essence, first party customer data is a plethora of tiles strewn across the floor of our organisations. What we need is a mechanism for assembling these tiles into a well-structured mosaic. That’s precisely what the CDP does.

Unlike the Data Management Platforms with which many of us are already familiar, the CDP makes use of all data (not merely third-party data) including Personally Identifiable Information (PII). The CDP aggregates known and pseudonymous data from across all channels, then structures it in a single, uniform data format. As it does so, the CDP eliminates outliers, errors, and mistakes to enhance the quality and integrity of your data. Best-in-class usage governance ensures you are using your data responsibly and transparently – and gives consumers greater control over their PII.

As these platforms mature, they will make use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to fill in the gaps in customer profiles. Increasingly, they will also be able to create ‘digital twins’, creating profiles for customers for which you have no data by applying insights based on knowledge of other, similar profiles.

The CDP therefore allows you to build rich, detailed and privacy-ready profiles without having to manually stitch the data together – and can even tell you the optimum time to ask a customer to provide their data. Critically, your CDP should operate in real-time, ensuring that the profiles you are working on – and the decisions you are making about them – are based on the most up-to-date information. In a nutshell, a real-time CDP enables you to build a single, coherent, 360-degree view of each and every customer – empowering you to deliver truly personalised, omnichannel experiences.

Those that adapt are best able to survive

With a Real-Time Customer Data Platform as part of your data management strategy, you can adapt to the phasing out of third-party cookies by consolidating and unifying all first-party information from multiple sources onto a single platform. The creation of comprehensive and accurate individual customer profiles will empower you to deliver timely, relevant, and highly personalised experiences based on real-time-data. This will enable you to build and maintain lasting connections with every customer so you can survive – and thrive – in an unpredictable and cookieless world.