How Will The Absence of Cookies Affect Google Search Campaigns
“Cookies,” marketers love them with their tea and in their marketing campaigns.
Come 2023 and we would start the countdown to a cookieless world in marketing campaigns. You can still enjoy those cookies with your tea!
Google has announced it would stop sharing third-party data on the Chrome browser by the end of 2023. Though they would continue to collect data, they would stop sharing it with advertisers. While it is seen as a tectonic shift, Mozilla and Safari have already implemented these in 2019 and 2020 respectively. This would bring an end to cookie-driven targeted advertising which has been practiced and perfected for over two decades.
The mention of a cookieless world is enough to send shivers down the spine for marketers. A sense of hopelessness has been seen across the marketing community. Global concerns for data privacy and the EU’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) laws have been key triggers for Google and others in the browser market to take these drastic steps. For years marketers have found easy access to customer information including user IDs, user interests, and user habits, that powered their strategic ad campaigns. All that is about to end.
How Would the Absence of Cookies Affect Advertising?
For close to two decades PPC and SEM account managers have extensively used cookies to understand and target their audience. From finding prospects to engaging and re-engaging them, cookies have been powering targeted marketing campaigns. They allowed marketers to measure success and optimize campaigns. Hence, marketers fear an unknown future as we witness the biggest disruption in digital advertising.
Even though the talk of cookieless advertising has been there for a few years, the reality is yet to sink in. More than 50% of marketers considered them very important to their campaigns according to a recent survey. Cookies allow marketers to track the browsing behavior of the users and build customized ads. Hence, they have been widely used in targeted campaigns.
However, Google’s latest announcement is merely a final nail in the coffin for cookie-based marketing. Other browsers already had their restrictions and people switching different devices for browsing activities had already nullified the length to which a user’s activity could be tracked. Nonetheless, the most widely used browser saying no to cookies does signal a tectonic shift in the world of advertising.
How Will It Impact Google Search Campaigns?
As Google stops sharing data, it would pose a new challenge for marketers to measure the success of their campaigns. It is undeniable that cookies have been at the heart of every search marketing campaign. They help in D2C (direct-to-customers) campaigns in the digital space. Creating customized ads based on user behavior wouldn’t be as easy as it has been so far. Even users are likely to be impacted as people have become used to receiving tailored recommendations for their search.
At present most PPC and SEM account managers rely on cookies to create targeted ad and search campaigns. Cookies allow them to study the journey of their users like how they react to certain ads. The absence of cookies would prevent marketers from following their users around the internet and gathering vital data on their activities. This has been the essence of remarketing campaigns so far. The absence of cookies would thus force you into a path of unlearning and creating new strategies going forward.
The efficacy and dependency on third-party cookies need not be retold but marketers would have to look beyond this deadline. You will have to come up with innovative ways to increase the effectiveness of their search campaigns. In a multi-device world where people moved from one device to another and between browsers the effectiveness of cookies had already started diminishing.
The Way Forward
The end of cookies shouldn’t come as a shock as it has been a work in progress for some time. Businesses and marketers have to accept this reality and explore new options of targeted marketing in the new world. While marketers have to go back to the drawing board, there are enough options to explore.
Leverage First-Party Data
Leverage first-party data (your data) to compensate for the lack of third-party data. First-party data is a goldmine that has been overlooked due to the ease of availability of cookie information from Google. Now that you longer have access to those it's time to unleash your secret weapon.
You collect tons of data through your website, social media pages, email marketing campaigns, and events (both virtual and physical). By using this data, you will be able to run tailored campaigns for your audience. Since this data has been shared with consent, it is more authentic and from high-intent prospects that can result in higher conversions.
Use Gated Content for Profiling
A cookieless world poses a challenge for profiling your audience as you can’t track their behavior. Gating content is a smart strategy for profiling your audience where they need to provide explicit consent to sharing their data voluntarily to access information on your website. The aim here is to collect demographic and other relevant information about the audience to profile them and run targeted marketing campaigns.
A gated marketing strategy would call for more investments in content and technology. You will have to increase the allocation of your ad spend and focus on direct media buys which are more reliable than cross-publisher data.
Rework Your Measurement Techniques
Measuring the success of digital ad campaigns would take a big hit in the absence of cookies. It would take advertisers some time to get adjusted to the new normal. You need to gear up for this challenge by reworking your success measurement metrics. Fix a baseline and invest in market research that lets you track every engagement from the first touchpoint to conversion.
If you are a location-based business the absence of cookies isn’t likely to affect you as much as other businesses that target across geographies. Google and other platforms let you target the audience based on their location. Focus on local PPC or Google Ads Geotargeting where you can optimize your ad campaigns to the level of cities and even zip codes.
Focus on Contextual Targeting
Contextual has been around for a while but in a cookie-dominant environment, they couldn’t find their way. This is about to change as we are likely to see more investments in this strategy. Here Google and other platforms match your keywords to relevant ads on third-party platforms.
For example, if you are an automobile detailer and choose automobile detailing as your keyword, your ads would appear on sites that focus on the automobile market. This allows you to personalize your ad campaigns and reach your target audience effectively.
A cookieless world presents a unique challenge to your job as a marketer. However, it does so for all marketers and hence creates a level playing field. Personalized ads without access to data may sound impossible but marketing automation can clear most of the obstacles on the way. Contextual targeting through first-party data blended with marketing automation is the way forward to growth in this new ecosystem.
You need a team that specializes in Marketing Automation and can drive your campaign in a cookieless world. If you are looking for one, we at Growth Natives have been gearing up for this challenge. We have a team that can help you leverage your data and other creative automation strategies to stay ahead of the competition. Drop us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and we shall be glad to set up a no-obligation consultation.