When Apple announced in June 2021 that they were going to block third party cookies, it was groundbreaking news to a certain extent. Why would Big Tech NOT want to enable the capture of your data? And why would it not want to monetise your digital browsing to the benefit of itself and the millions of businesses waiting to pounce and serve you adverts?

The announcement didn’t make a huge amount of sense, unless of course, Apple had simply developed a conscience (which is possible!). But actually, when we all looked a little further back, we came to realise that Apple has always quietly been a stalwart defender of the digital browser.

Back in 2015 and 2017 Apple released a feature called ITP (Intelligent Tracking Prevention) for its users which was initially added just to Safari and Apple’s mobile operating system, iOS; but in 2019 extending the deployment of ITP across its macOS and and Apple Desktop OS. In the 7 years between 2015 and today, a lot has happened. The Facebook x Cambridge Analytica scandal, data’s influence on the most recent US Presidential Election just to name two big unethical data uses. But what will the death of third party cookies mean to marketers, ecommerce businesses and the general public?

What does a third-party cookie do?

In short, cookies date all the way back to 1994, and the reign of Netscape. For the benefit of the younger audience, Netscape Navigator was the first significant commercial web browser; it was the predecessor and one of the originators in computer services.

The original cookie was a line of script written to help websites remember users for if they returned to that specific website, but couldn’t be used to cross over between websites until much later.

A third-party cookie is a modern day advancement of the original cookie, as the script and cookie that is dropped on your browser is now accessible to load on any website that loads the server’s code. In essence it enables advertisers to track a user (or their device) across many of the websites that they visit, extending them the ability to serve adverts tailored to the user even when they are on a totally unrelated, unattached website.

Why do online advertisers use third-party cookies?

Online Advertisers utilise third-party cookies to make money. If you took a look back through a random person’s browsing history (a dangerous place to go), it probably wouldn’t take too long for you to get an understanding of who the person is, what they like, and what influences their decision making. This in turn would then give you the ability to sell more effectively to them.

Is it fair that people who want to sell to you can view all of this information? Maybe not; but cross site tracking, as unethical as it is, is the cornerstone of many of your favourite e-commerce brands and the services that you buy too.

Third-party cookies enable advertisers to serve Ads that are more relevant and tap into your consumer desires, which means they are more likely to convert than non-targeted ads.

What has been the reaction by digital advertisers to third-party cookies being blocked?

When the news broke that Apple was going to be blocking third-party cookies, there were 3 primary groups of people:

1) The Panickers -  Some digital advertisers cried (it is true). Some digital advertisers felt that they’d need to rethink their entire business models.

2) The Pragmatists - Some digital advertisers pragmatically recognised that Apple’s browser is non-dominant in pretty much all countries, except the US; and thought that they could continue with the same practises on other browsers.

3) The Forward Thinkers - Some digital advertisers saw this day was coming and had already diversified their marketing activity away from depending on third-party cookies.

What do we think is the way forward? ‘The Panickers’ and ‘The Pragmastists’ have to become ‘The Forward Thinkers’ as Google, who are the dominant browser in many more countries than Apple, have since announced that by 2023, Chrome and all Google browsing technology will no longer support third-party cookies as part of their Privacy Sandbox strategy.

What is the future of online advertising?

When you can’t advertise using third-party cookies, what should you do?

Taking you back to the analogy from earlier; of you understanding a random person, based on sneaking a peek at their browser history. Imagine you can no longer do that, how would you get to know them speedily and effectively?

Zero-party data through Personalisation!

As an online advertiser, you probably have data capture points across the website. These data capture points help you to capture key elements of data such as name, email address, contact number, and product of interest; but is this helping you to get to know your website visitor? No not really - it is just enabling you to contact them! Is serving all of your website visitors the same follow up email, the same discount code and the same best sellers list? No not really - it is just enabling you to push them the agenda that you want to push.

You get to know your website visitors by treating them as individuals. Serving them personalised emails, SMS messages, and responsive offers based on their interests, preferences and concerns.

If the above sounds logical to you, great! This means that you are on our wavelength! But you are probably asking HOW to deliver this personalisation on your website, when you only get a minute or two of someone’s attention.

The answer Blend Commerce and Octane AI

What can Blend Commerce and Octane AI do for me?

Octane AI’s proprietary technology enables you to learn more about the people visiting your website by serving then with AI quizzing that integrates seamlessly and captures data intuitively in exchange for something that your visitor may want (perhaps a discount or early access to something). This zero-data marketing approach enables you to utilise Blend Commerce’s skill set which is using, personalising, and applying this data to enable you to remarket, reengage and reinvigorate your website visitor that you can tailor how you communicate with the visitor to turn them from prospective customer to active customer.

If you are looking to learn more about how you can dump third-party cookies, date zero-party marketing and move your online marketing strategy into the sustainable future, then reach out to Adam Pearce at Blend Commerce

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Marketing Strategist

Our problem-solving enthusiast and Marketing Strategist, Carmen, has expertise that lies in the realms of analytics and strategy, where she’s been known to work magic and famously knows all the answers. What truly sets Carmen apart is her unquenchable thirst for knowledge. She’s continually adding new skills to her arsenal, all with the goal of making Blend an even better place and providing comprehensive solutions for our clients when it comes to their overall marketing strategy, whether on-site or through marketing.

Published: March 16 2022

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