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Post-Cookie Data Strategies: How Agencies Can Thrive

If you were going to be stranded on a desert island, what would you want in your bag? A hammock? Some suncream perhaps? We all think we know what to expect, but what if this deserted island turns out to be just off the coast of Antarctica, rather than the tropical island you’re picturing? All of a sudden, we’re going to need some very different items to survive.

The same can be applied to the demise of third-party cookies. For years now, the industry has been preparing for a future that it cannot accurately predict, like packing for a holiday you don’t know the destination of. But by packing their bags with robust post-cookie data strategies, innovative customer data collection methods, and strong data partnerships, agencies can navigate the unknown with the resilience to adapt to any environment.

The Struggles of Adapting to a Post-Cookie Environment

Agencies that have been too reliant on a diet of third-party cookies will have a hard time adapting to the post-cookie desert island, like a castaway unsure of what flora and fauna is safe to eat. For many, third-party cookies remain vital for stitching together consumer behavior across different platforms to build comprehensive user profiles.

Those working in industries with long sales cycles — such as automotive and real estate — will be particularly out of their element. These sectors rely heavily on deterministic identifiers like email for retention and messaging, and the loss of third-party cookies will limit their ability to identify new customers similar to their existing ones.

On the other hand, agencies operating in the e-commerce realm, where purchase cycles are rapid and frequent, will be able to adapt more quickly thanks to their familiarity with leveraging first-party data harvested from direct consumer relationships.

Agencies with a high degree of data balkanization — the segregation of data in different parts of an organization — are also vulnerable. Balkanized data is like having your survival tools scattered across the island, hampering the ability to consolidate and leverage resources effectively.

This issue is compounded by media fragmentation, where customer interactions are split across various platforms and touchpoints, from chat and social media interactions to emails and offline purchases. To combat this, post-cookie data strategies must include data collaboration platforms that can unify disparate data formats and sources, providing a shared pool of insights that everyone across an agency — and its brand clients — can tap into easily.

Charting New Territories for Troves of Customer Data

To establish a new life on the post-cookie desert island, agencies need to leave their comfort zone and explore new territories in customer data collection. Incentivizing consumers to share their data is key, especially for connecting online and offline behaviors, such as asking consumers to upload physical purchase receipts to an online account to receive rewards.

Agencies should think creatively about which value exchanges are most effective for their customer base to maximize uptake. A wine brand could offer free glasses for signing up to a newsletter, or a restaurant chain could offer free meal items on a customer’s birthday.

They also must not forget longstanding sources of valuable data: panels and surveys. This data can be acquired through third-party providers or directly, though surveying existing customers will of course require that their contact information is already available. An advantage of panel data is that it can provide intelligence not just on current and prospective customers, but also competitors’ customers.

Forging Alliances Through Data Collaboration

At first, agencies might feel alone on the post-cookie island. But survival is easier in a group than in isolation, and by embracing a collaborative spirit they will soon realize that there are allies hidden across the landscape. Through post-cookie data collaboration, agencies can connect their insights with partners, establishing resilient and mutually beneficial strategies.

For example, non-competing brands such as airlines and hotel chains can share data to identify common customers and create targeted marketing campaigns, funneling passengers straight through to accommodation through joint incentive and optimizing for moments of high intent. Such collaborations help in understanding customer journeys from one business to the next and delivering more personalized experiences.

Returning to the example of the automotive industry, its long sales cycle can be mitigated by partnering with complementary businesses that have a more rapid customer turnover, such as dealerships, repair shops, and accessory manufacturers. They could even look outside their sector entirely, partnering with real estate companies to identify areas with high-value customers, such as suburban families who over-index in SUV ownership.

Curation — where specialists filter inventory based on the buyers’ needs — has emerged as a popular application of data collaboration. By working with data specialists, agencies can step out of the programmatic weeds and only buy quality inventory that delivers performance and efficiency. Effectively, it’s like having a local expert warn you about which plants are edible and which are dangerous.

Through collaboration, we can chart a course towards a brighter future, transforming the post-cookie desert island from a place of isolation into a realm of endless possibilities for agencies, brands, and publishers alike.

This piece was originally published by Lotame’s, Vice President of Data Solutions in EMEA, Alison Harding. 

Learn more about Lotame’s end-to-end data collaboration Spherical, and how it can help you onboard, connect, enrich, and activate data — whether you have it or need it — to better understand and engage consumers. Contact us today!