Online marketing in a world without cookies, what does that look like?
We are almost used to it by now: every site you visit for the first time asks you extensively whether you want to accept cookies. You can often choose between only the minimum necessary (first party) cookies and an extensive range of additional (third party) cookies. The latter variant is by far the most interesting for advertisers and other commercial (online) parties, but it is precisely this variant that is under heavy fire. In fact, in a few years' time, the third party cookie probably not anymore. How do you, as an entrepreneur with a tight online strategy, still do digital marketing?
Consumers want privacy
The realization that online privacy is a valuable asset, is under pressure and needs to be protected, has been growing steadily in recent years. This is one of the reasons why we saw the introduction of the GDPR not so long ago, which lays down guidelines and restrictions regarding the storage and processing of personal data by companies. The GDPR can be seen as a first step towards a world in which digital personal data in particular is much more tightly protected.
The next step in that regard is the approaching ePrivacy Regulation. This supplement to the GDPR focuses specifically on digital/online channels and the way in which privacy must be safeguarded through such channels.
The time in which almost unlimited data from website visitors could be collected and processed and analyzed in all kinds of creative ways without hindrance in order to arrive at the optimal marketing strategy, is definitely behind us. In fact, the playground in which you can still do your thing is getting smaller and smaller.
GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation): is a European regulation which standardizes the rules for the processing of personal data by private companies and public authorities across the European Union. The aim is to protect personal data within the European Union and to guarantee the free movement of data within the European internal market. The GDPR includes the following rules:
- Accuracy: the personal data must be and remain correct;
- Data Restriction: only the data that is necessary for the intended purpose may be collected;
- Retention Restriction: the personal data may not be kept longer than is necessary for the intended purpose;
- Target Limitation: the personal data is collected for a specific legitimate purpose and may not be used for other purposes;
- Integrity and confidentiality: the personal data must be protected against unauthorized access, loss or destruction;
- Transparency: the person whose data is processed is aware of this, has given permission for this and knows his rights;
- accountability: the controller must be able to demonstrate compliance with these rules.
ePV (Privacy Regulation): is a proposed European regulation that replaces the current ePrivacy Directive (Directive 2002/58/EC), in order to better adapt to the new technological reality. The ePV is intended as a law that takes precedence over the GDPR, a general law. The ePV gives more substance to the general GDPR rules by applying them and specifying the way in which electronic communication data is regarded as personal data. This regulation focuses on organizations that communicate online, use tracking technologies and engage in direct marketing.
Browsers are going to ban third party cookies
Parallel to formal legislation, more and more web browser manufacturers are opting to third party cookies through their browsers. Apple has been doing that in Safari since February of this year, via the so-called Intelligent Tracking Protection (ITP). Through this security mechanism, all parts of a website that visitors try to track – for example via tracking pixels or cookies – are automatically disabled.
Similar developments will follow in browsers such as Firefox and Edge later this year. Even Google Chrome will – Maybe not this year, but definitely next year – to follow, despite the fact that Google is precisely a party that exists more or less by the grace of collecting data from users.
Impact on your online marketing?
With cookies you 'recognize' visitors to your website. The third party cookies go a bit further than the first party cookies. You really need the latter variant for a working site: they ensure that the contents of your shopping cart are preserved as you continue shopping and they keep visitors logged in when they click through to another page.
The third party However, cookies, for which visitors already have to give permission (which often means: carelessly clicking away that message), do more. They analyze surfing behaviour, know which websites you have visited, what you have searched there and build a profile with all that information. To then ensure that you are presented with tailor-made advertisements and that you are shown a version of the website that meets your 'needs'. Read: a version that is most likely to make you do valuable things, such as making a purchase or leaving lead details.
Now as an entrepreneur you may think: but I don't actually do anything with those cookies. If you only have a simple website with some plain text and no other online marketing strategy, then that might be right. But the third party cookie comes into the picture sooner than you think.
For example, do you use Google Analytics? Do you have any campaigns running on Twitter, facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram? Do you ever put something on YouTube, or do you have YouTube videos embedded on your site like the video above? Then you use third party cookies. Or rather: you use online tools that only work well because there is such a thing as the third party cookies. And those tools will soon work a lot less well. They will see every website visitor as 'new', including returning ones, which means that conversion figures are no longer correct, A/B tests go wrong and targeting (offering specific content to, for example, returning visitors) goes wrong.
What can you do about this?
There is, of course, nothing you can do to stop this development. What you can do is respond to it and make sure you are better prepared than your competitor. You can also use developments that are against you to your advantage, because your competitor also suffers from them. There are three important things you can do starting today to prepare for a world without third party cookie:
- Start collecting more leads and customer data. For example via whitepaper downloads, newsletters or subscriptions to promotions. After all, visitors who actively agree to such a registration can simply be approached and can therefore be targeted.
- Put more effort into conversion through such newsletters. Your cookie-related marketing tools will convert less, so make other tools more important. That weekly newsletter becomes much more decisive for your marketing mix, so you may want to professionalize it thoroughly…?
- Let visitors log in and give something in return. On NU.nl you can now read articles from quality newspapers, for example, if you are logged in. That is a nice way to recognize website visitors, without having to do this via a cookie. Is something similar possible on your site?