Content Commerce: Surviving And Thriving Without Cookies

March 25, 2021

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The ban on 3rd party cookies has seen the online marketing world waiting with bated breathe for an alternative mode of targeting advertisements and identifying users, we take a look at their options...

Google, Safari, and Firefox, the world’s 3 largest web browsers, have either banned or are about to ban 3rd party cookies. These cookies are the codes which track internet users across websites, enabling marketers and brands to see what web users are searching for and buying. The online marketing world had been on pins and needles waiting to see whether Google would create an alternative mode of targeting advertisements and identifying users which consumers and regulators didn’t find invasive, or if they would simply phase out the practice. The answer came a few weeks ago, and it was definitive: “we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.” 

Google’s calculations may be based on altruism, or a sense that evolving privacy regulations will soon outlaw any practices that track individuals in their daily journeys around the web. As David Temkin, Google’s Director of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Trust writes: “If digital advertising doesn't evolve to address the growing concerns people have about their privacy and how their personal identity is being used, we risk the future of the free and open web.” So while think-pieces demand that marketers ratchet up efforts to create hyper-personalization and segmentation, the gatekeepers of the internet are simultaneously curtailing brands’ ability to build profiles of their customers. It is a sticky situation, but instead of throwing up our hands, let’s take a look at what can be done to power past this paradox.

Content Is King, And The Future Is Social

While targeting and relevance have helped bottom lines, we mustn’t forget that what actually engages shoppers is content. The public doesn’t care how you are delivering them the information they are looking for, they just want to be entertained, informed, and hopefully offered something of value. And the good news for those looking to reach and convert potential customers is that ever increasing numbers of internet users are now browsing within social media apps. Delivering quality content via Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok will necessarily attract like-minded consumers, and leverage existing social networks. Instead of targeting students at a particular university, or pet owners within a geographic area with ads delivered via tracking cookies, relevant content can do the job for you, while influencers and micro-influencers can ensure that your message hits home.

In fact, social websites will often be willing to share data similar to what can be acquired via 3rd party cookies, and their users generally consent to share their personal data with the platform. Because social sites offer entertainment and connection, commodities deemed significantly more valuable than a browser’s promise of relevant advertising, users are much more likely to agree to part with their information. As Lion Shirdan of UPRISE Management recently told Forbes, “Traditional browsing is slowing down and social media browsing is becoming the new normal. Cookies are being replaced with social data.” In fact, according to Forbes, 73% of young shoppers say that Instagram is the best way to reach them.  

But in order to thrive on social media, you’ll need to create a strategy that delivers quality content, utilizes networks of influencers and micro-influencers, and targets the right demographic groups on the right platforms and apps. Getting to know your target audience is essential, and determining where they are inclined to look for information, make purchases, read posts, or watch videos will determine whether you succeed. Targeting moms on TikTok or tweens on Facebook is a recipe for disaster.  

We would strongly recommend diversifying your social portfolio. Tailoring content to appeal to different demographics across multiple platforms is soon going to be necessary for successful campaigns. And most social sites will let you access the data that will tell you which type of user is likely to respond to various types of content. For instance, shoppable recipes might be a goldmine for parents who participate in Facebook groups, while cooking videos on Youtube and TikTok would be more likely to appeal to Gen Z. Data will help you calibrate the most effective platforms and appeals for every individual consumer.

Use Technology

Flourishing 5G networks are unleashing the possibilities of VR and AR at a time when shoppers are reluctant to venture outside their homes. One could argue that the loss of cookies actually won’t be a major development, as online shopping evolves beyond the banner ad and the pop up into virtual stores and live shopping events. Younger consumers are already far more likely to be influenced by sponsored posts and new-media celebrity endorsements than they are to click a link that pops up on their web browser. 

TikTok and Snapchat have already launched AR advertising features, and more are on the way. As NYU Professor Samantha Wolfe told reporters, “VR, AR, AI, ML, and Gen-Z are all maturing together. Therefore, Gen-Z is the most likely generation to integrate advanced technologies like virtual reality and augmented reality seamlessly into their daily lives.” With Apple preparing to launch their AR glasses, and the Oculus rapidly evolving, brands need to work to create quality AR and VR content. If you can convince shoppers to enter your virtual stores and engage with cutting-edge content, you won’t need to spy on them as they surf the net.

Bringing Value And Building Trust

Simply put, eCommerce marketers became far too reliant on 3rd party cookies, a technology which most people find invasive, sinister, and off-putting. Banning this practice has been viewed as an apocalyptic event by many brands and advertisers, but we would argue that it’s a necessary and welcome change. Consumers aren’t going to stop shopping or looking for big sales and exciting new products, they’re just demanding that you stop stalking them.

By doubling down on quality content, you’ll not only win the gratitude of those who are tired of being hounded by ads that follow them to every corner of the online world, you’ll probably exceed your expectations for ROI. 3rd party cookies are headed for the dustbin of history, and that is, quite frankly, where they belong. Advertisers who start focusing on content will be in position to thrive in this new era of eCommerce marketing. If you’re looking for a partner who can help you deliver shoppable content to the right sets of eyeballs, get in touch with Adimo today! 

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