As Digital Analyst, it’s my job to distill all the data we collect on our clients’ digital marketing campaigns, understand how (and why) our efforts are performing and where to go from here. In other words, I help ensure the agency and our clients use digital channels in the most beneficial way. As use of digital platforms such as the web and social media has skyrocketed, so has the demand from users for more privacy and fewer faceless corporate code-bots “tracking” them online.
Until now, third-party cookies were the most efficient way to accumulate data on users’ interests, purchases and other actions in the interest of improving and personalizing their experiences. Seeing topics of searches (assumed to be private) reflected in ads gave users a creepy feeling their privacy was violated. So back in 2020, Google announced they were pivoting away from use of third-party cookies on the Chrome browser to protect users asking for enhanced privacy. The phaseout would take place over two years. And here we are two years later.
Because Chrome, Safari, and Firefox will all no longer support this type of data-tracking, some industry pubs are calling Google’s phaseout the “death of the third-party cookie.”
Advertisers: there’s no need to panic
First-party cookies tracking basic data on your own website’s visitors are still safe. You’ll also still have access to analytics dashboards tracking first-party cookie data such as web sessions on a page, pages clicked per visit, browser type, geographic demographics and referring websites where users clicked links to your URL. But you won’t be able to see any third-party cookie metrics revealing their behaviors beyond your website. Third-party cookie intel is the culprit for the “creep factor” in ads users disliked.
Say goodbye to third-party data without fear. Its successor, zero-party data, is in all ways superior. By definition, zero-party data is personal data an individual intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include data provided in newsletter signups, customer surveys, preference center data and how the individual wants to be recognized by the brand. ZPD is far and beyond the most accurate data. Since it’s provided by the customer directly, you don’t have to question the source. Additionally, since it is freely given to your company, there are no concerns about how the data was acquired. It also establishes a brand relationship with clients who have the highest consumer intent.
Some customers may expect something in return for giving up their information (a value exchange). There can also be a disconnect between what customers think and what they truly want. But those are topics for another day.
ZPD is the best strategy
Your customers will be willing to share data with you in exchange for an experience customized to their wants and needs. They want personalized content, but also want to be in control of what data is shared in order to enjoy a personalized experience with your brand.
A good zero-party data strategy eliminates any creepiness because the data is collected freely and directly from the customer, eliminating the guesswork in customizing consumer experiences. It also helps your company measure and build trust with your customers. So long as there is transparency around the value customers get in exchange for their data, they’ll be inclined to share it with you if they want a personalized experience.
To launch a successful zero-party data strategy, we will guide our clients to:
- Align ZPD with your overall customer data, content and marketing strategies
- Combine zero-party data with your first-party data by integrating with existing systems
- Clearly communicate the value exchange
- Make it a part of your brand’s overall digital user experience
What to do next
Your team at WCG is ready to help you navigate Google’s ever-changing analytics platforms (including the next to arrive in 2023) and initiate first-party data collection ASAP. Have a question relating to your digital strategy or marketing campaigns? Call or send an e-mail to your account exec or even Peggy Wilson herself. And you’ll get a prompt, accurate response. It also wouldn’t hurt to recite “ZPD is the best strategy” a few times a day and make it your new company mantra.