Third-party cookies are crumbling

The days of relying on third-party cookies for insight into consumers are gone and have been replaced by first-party data trends and opportunities.

Delivering his keynote speech at PPW in Bangkok, Gil Sperling, co-Founder and CEO of data-driven adtech company, Flow, stressed the urgency for portals and marketplaces to get to grips with this shift and to capitalise on the massive revenue opportunity that it presents.

With Google’s announcement that it will discontinue cookies in the third quarter of 2024, the convergence of stringent laws and heightened data privacy concerns, this inevitable change has accelerated.

For consumers, this heralds a new era of empowerment, offering heightened privacy, control, and more explicit consent. For marketers and media professionals, however, this seismic change demands a recalibration of strategies. “First-party data is the new oil of the digital landscape and has become the most valuable asset in a marketer’s arsenal,” Sperling said.

From engagements across diverse platforms to CRM databases, subscriptions, and social media channels, the value of directly acquired data cannot be overstated. “Marketers are pivoting to invest in new technologies, prioritise consumer trust, and leverage first-party data to navigate the evolving terrain of digital marketing.”

Marketing budgets are shifting toward first-party data strategies and that is where the opportunity lies.

Just look at retail giants, with thousands of brands on their shelves, who have been using their first-party data to target audiences off-site for years and have proved the value of the retail-media model. This paves the way for anyone with first-party data, such as portals and marketplaces, and/or their own insight on consumer behaviour to do the same.

“According to Retail Touchpoints’ research, every one of the top ten retailers in the US has a retail media network in place, while eMarketer reports that 58% of media decision-makers are already using retail media to inform their media strategies,” Sperling added.

“In 2024, retail media in the US could represent one in every five digital ad dollars, and according to AdExchange, global retail media revenue is forecast to grow 8.3% this year.”

Take Walmart for example, the well-known budget-friendly convenience store in the US that is now able to reach 150 million+ shoppers every week by utlising first-party data. Or Etsy, the online marketplace for crafts, fashion or any imaginable item for sale, that is able to connect off-site to users on Google, Facebook, Instagram, Bing and Pinterest, where user count is sizable and frequent, simply through targeted advertising.

“What this means is that anyone with first-party data can do the same, including portals and marketplaces,” said Sperling.

“Furthermore, portals and marketplaces can now unlock new revenue streams by packaging and selling segments of their first-party audience data to brands like insurers, moving companies, internet providers, mortgage brokers and more.”

“The time is now. Cookies have crumbled, and anyone with first-party data can unlock more revenue by being a data giant and creating their very own data ecosystem. Through data-powered adtech, Flow is enabling both of the revenue opportunities outlined above,” Sperling concluded.

How will companies collect data after cookies end? What are the steps of new data gathering and analytics?

First party data means your own client’s data. If you want to do it, you just need a strategy to structure your business in a way where you can centralise all of it with software, like a CDP, a customer data platform. Technically it’s the ability to implement software or first to map out your business and uncover where data is and if it’s your business It’s logical –  You know your clients, you know what they buy and where, you know what they do, you know all about your clients and then you get everything centralised using a CDP customer data platform.

Any examples?

Checkers is a good example. They’ve done a brilliant job with it. A nice way to explain it to people is because we’re all consumers at checkers. You go in, you pick your trolley, you go to the checkout, and now they’re asking you for that Xtra card. The Xtra card you registered on with your name and your email. Now they’ve captured an identity. I think that 70-80% of their shoppers use Xtra cards. So, they’ve got penetration. They’ve managed to find a real identity for a large portion of their shoppers. (And just as a side step, the key to this whole data exercise is how do you get the personal identifier of a person that is step number one the foundation generally an email or a mobile). Now you’ve got demographic information because you registered and also have basket information. Because you’re also using checkers 6060, they know where you live and how often you shop online. They know which device you use…those are tons of signals to segment a user for them. And all that gets captured into the CDP database.

If you don’t have a loyalty programme  or a loyalty app, you then need to come up with a plan to capture this data. Checkers did this well, they created a pathway to capture identity and tied it to transactions/purchases so they now have these insights. Collaboration with the correct platform or data provider can also be a solution here.

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