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What could a 'cookieless' future mean for businesses and their customers?

Author: Liam Springate-Jones
Date: 15/03/23

What could a 'cookieless' future mean for businesses and their customers?

At the beginning of 2020, Google announced its plan to remove third-party cookies from Chrome. It’s an initiative that would represent a major shift in marketing and advertising and mark a step forward for data privacy. Third-party cookies are tracking codes that allow brands to learn about a visitor’s online behaviour, such as purchases, preferences and frequency of site visits.  

For nearly two decades, cookies have been the driving force of the online ecosystem. The global digital advertising and marketing market is projected to reach over $786 billion by 2026 and cookies have played a key role in the continued growth of the industry. But now the third-party cookie is set to be phased out, which means it will be much harder for marketers to track user behaviour across the web, and they’ll have to rely more heavily on their data for targeted ads. Read on to discover how the ‘cookieless future’ will impact businesses and their customers. 

Shifting to first-party data 

The cookie was invented in the mid-1990s, and it quickly became the bedrock of digital marketing and advertising, with brands being able to accurately track visitors across the web to serve them personalised ads. Today, privacy protection is much more prominent and has changed the landscape, leading to the move away from cookie technology. For marketers and business leaders, there will be a dramatic shift to first-party data, which is any information that a company collects directly from their audience through owned digital channels.  

Customer data platforms 

Customer data platforms have quickly become the preferred solution for many businesses. In a ‘cookieless future’, they’re likely to rise to greater prominence. Customer data platforms focus on analytics and extract data from multiple online and offline sources, which makes it easier for businesses to create data-driven marketing campaigns, as well as provide customer experiences through relevant content.  

The main benefit of a customer data platform is that it connects all customer touchpoints and channels in a single, coherent database. This allows businesses to make more meaningful connections with customers and manage customer data in real time. With a customer data platform, businesses create personalised experiences for consumers without the need for third-party cookies.  

Server-side tracking 

Server-side tracking is another method that businesses should be paying more attention to as the third-party cookie is phased out of marketing practices. It refers to tracking events, such as website visitors from the server and broadcasting that data to other servers for further use. With server-side tracking, businesses can gather more accurate data and strengthen the control they have over data traffic from their website. Moving into a ‘cookieless future’, server-side tracking will have huge benefits for businesses because it restricts access to a user’s data, protecting it from being collected by any third party.  

With fewer third-party cookies and tracking tags, page load speeds will immediately increase. Therefore, as businesses rely less on cookies, they’ll be able to provide a more efficient experience for customers and potentially increase conversion rates. According to research, 90% of buyers say the experience a company provides matters more than the products and services. This shows the importance of the customer experience and why brands need to prioritise how buyers engage and interact with their websites.  

How to prepare for a ‘cookieless future’ 

There are several ways that businesses can prepare for the eradication of third-party cookies that will allow them to continue to thrive and build strong relationships with customers. 

  • Businesses should consider asking their customers directly to provide relevant information about themselves within the data protection laws.

  • Brands will need to focus more on nurturing relationships with their customers by using retention strategies, such as frequent follow-ups, over communication and building connections with customers.   

  • Taking advantage of location targeting should also be a priority for brands, as the ability to detect a customer’s location will become more important than ever to deliver localised and personalised content without cookies.  

What’s the next step for your business? 

At Splendid UNLIMITED, we work closely with our gold-tier partner Acquia to deliver quality experiences to our clients. As a team of specialist digital designers and developers, we understand the demands of the online ecosystem and the changing innovations and technologies that affect user experience.  

If you want to find out more about digital experiences in a cookieless world, download a copy of Acquia’s whitepaper. To find out more about Splendid’s services, get in touch with the team to start a conversation.