The other day, I clicked on a link that was about the imminent death of third-party cookies. I was prompted to ‘Accept all cookies’ before I proceed any further!
We are supposed to say no to third-party cookies by the end of 2023. While I am waiting for the day, I presume the industry clout is strong enough to delay/dilute/deny this change. Assuming it does halt, that doesn’t mean the death of performance marketing or digital ads, but perhaps the death of external audiences. We will not have customer/household level targeting. We will fall back to some level of aggregated segments that is more driven by the topic of the page rather than what else did the customer do.
I personally am waiting for the return of this glorious past. A fashion magazine will have apparel brand ads and a finance newspaper will carry brokerage ads (just stick to your topic, please). It will be such a relief. Last week, I was browsing to understand a data platform and I was greeted by some DIY art & craft ads. No points for guessing who was meddling on my phone!
I am given to understand that the data big boys of search engines and social media are already onto the next level of segmentation, though the death of third-party cookies will only increase their power and influence.
No cookies? Become digital natives
For financial services firms, digital marketing has so far been only about acquiring new clients. No firm has really cracked the model of engaging/selling better through third party ads with their existing clients. Even the dynamics here will change as return on ads will dip in the short term.
There is a mirage out in the market that firms can acquire external data and miraculously merge it with their own and get a better handle on their existing clients. But the only solution here is to build solid first-party data and become a digital native. Clients come to a platform to understand the market and transact instantly. Financial services are just an enabler in this chain. Most large financial services firms carry a solid credibility behind their brand. It will be a sustainable advantage to capitalize on this credibility to drive digital traffic and build a data repository of their own.
A second-party option
There is a possible alternative in collaborating with second-party data, where there is some serious collaboration and not one-off data buys. Imagine an airline and a bank working together to help each other out with the missing pieces of a jigsaw. The airline that sees a family trip to Bali doesn’t know the other transactions, like hotels and travel insurance. The bank sees all these but doesn’t know travel to where or for whom. This level of data partnership is doable. But it’s currently an administrative and legal nightmare.
To continue to stay relevant, financial firms need to have the thirst and drive to think along the lines of first- and second-party data. Precision is an important ingredient in data science. Third-party data already lacked it and the future doesn’t look any better. It is imperative that business folks who want data to work for them understand this tenet.