Capturing, activating and managing first-party data for a cookieless world 

Ashlea Cartee, product marketing manager of consent & preferences, OneTrust

According to a recent Gartner report, only 36% of marketers indicated they understand what the loss of third-party cookies will mean for their organizations. This major transition for marketers and advertisers is just around the corner, and waiting until 2023 to adapt to it is bound to leave slower marketing teams behind. 

For businesses of all kinds, standard operating procedures are at risk. After cookies vanish, the job of monitoring website traffic, collecting user data to improve product and digital experiences, and delivering, measuring and attributing targeted advertisements will be affected. 

For teams still casting cookies in a leading — or even supporting — role in their marketing and data strategies, there is little time left to identify alternatives. One viable replacement strategy is activating first-party data, but it will take time to roll out new plans, even as the deadline draws near. 

How first-party data can help teams of all kinds

Effectively leveraging first-party data helps ensure strong outcomes for campaigns, user experiences and customer relationships. By successfully utilizing customer insights provided by the customers themselves, marketers are carving out a new competitive advantage for their organizations. 

When matched with a well-thought-out data strategy, teams activate first-party data downstream to create enhancements for customer-focused features and offerings. 

For example, first-party data can equip teams with profound insights that help them develop products and services based on customer-indicated preferences, content suggestions based on user behavior and targeted marketing offers based on past purchases.

How to capture and activate first-party data

Collecting and activating first-party data requires data owners to build trust and transparency. Marketers must first assess whether they have the internal capacity and tools to gather, process and leverage it to the fullest extent. They must also understand how they currently rely on third-party cookies, where they come from and their alternatives. 

Depending on their industry, the pillars of a successful plan include capturing first-party data to receive a newsletter or purchase discount. They also include removing guest account/guest check-out options from products or services, creating an opt-in loyalty program, developing a thought-leadership content series accessible to authenticated users and partnering internally to leverage first-party data insights for tailored customer experiences and product improvements. 

Obtaining first-party data starts with customer trust. People who perceive that a company is committed to protecting their data privacy and security will be more willing to consent. Another key is focusing on the value exchange with customers, being transparent about what’s offered in exchange for their data and making that offer compelling. Earning first-party data also comes down to a value exchange. Customers are willing to provide their first-party data in exchange for access to something they need or want — make offers compelling and use first-party data to enhance products, services, experiences and advertisements over time. 

It’s also essential to remember that the transition from cookies to first-party data likely won’t be a one-to-one switch but one that requires users to provide it and, more importantly, trust the organization. Marketers might be working with less data than they’re used to when getting started, but it’s more likely to be accurate and up-to-date. Approaching the shift with an open mind and viewing the transition from a quality-versus-quantity perspective is critical. 

Tips for first-party data management

To fully use first-party data, marketing, sales, product, customer success and other client-facing departments should work together to fulfill the company’s data strategy. They can identify and develop customer touchpoints and collect first-party data by working together. This effort should include updating privacy policies and compliance processes across the organization so everyone involved is up to date with the latest legal requirements.

If teams across the organization are collecting first-party data but aren’t storing it in a centralized location, this presents issues for data governance teams and limits the capacity to make full use of insights and authorized uses company-wide. Systems that can conduct compliance activities, house first-party data and any other data held by the organization and efficiently provide access to those who need it can solve this issue.

Additionally, enabling company-wide access is essential to protecting privacy and security, especially if the company’s first-party data contains sensitive information. Once authorized teams have access to the first-party data, success further depends on working to identify insights and trends.

Making the switch to first-party data

While it can be challenging to identify the best next steps when cookies have historically been central to marketing and data strategies, teams cannot go without data to guide their decisions in 2023. Numerous expert resources are available to help marketers thrive in a cookieless world. 

This transition may leave some feeling lost, but the deprecation of the third-party cookie is also an opportunity, opening new doors for brands, publishers and agencies. A successful transition will ultimately come down to how well marketers can position data transparency, consumer trust and value at the forefront of their strategy. In exchange, they can rely on high-quality, consented first-party data to continue powering their business forward. 

Sponsored By: OneTrust

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