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Peak Ace on Air #49: Cookie-less world with Arnold Bax and Zbigniew Nowicki

Who doesn’t love a cookie? Well, when it comes to virtual cookies, the answers is apparently, everybody. Browsers like Safari and Firefox have been blocking third-party cookies already for some time. Google will (eventually) join the club too. What does this mean for advertisers and website owners relying on cookies to analyse visitor behaviour? That’s where Arnold and Zbigniew come in.

Arnold is a consultant at digital marketing agency Traffic Builders in the Netherlands, and Zbigniew is the managing director and co-owner of Polish digital marketing agency Bluerank. As they both contributed to the recent Dall whitepaper on the prospect of a cookie-less world and how to prepare for it, they’re the perfect people to enlighten us on the subject!

Dall’s post cookie-era whitepaper

As Zbigniew explained, they produced the report in order to help clients understand how the end of third-party cookies will affect them. The first part of the paper provides some theoretical background, while the rest of the paper is for practical advice, with interviews with digital marketing experts.

Difference between first- and third-party cookies

If you didn’t know – there are two kinds of cookies. What’s the difference between first- and third-party cookies? First-party cookies are stored by the website itself. For example, Amazon stores a lot of tracking cookies on their site, in order to make the buying process smoother. These kind of cookies save login information, show personalised offers and remember what’s in your shopping cart.

Third-party cookies, as the name suggests, are primarily stored on another website. For example, the Facebook pixel is a third-party cookie. Yes, you stored the pixel on your site, but it’s still coming from a site other than yours.

The guys went on to discuss how there are few regulations when it comes to how cookie banners appear on a site. Yes, they need to be there, but every website can have their banners as they please. It doesn’t seem to matter that much anyway, as most website visitors will just accept all cookies since it’s the easiest option to access the website quickly. It often takes several clicks to only allow functional cookies.

Which is pretty much what advertisers want, right? To make it much easier to just accept all the cookies. We actually talked about cookie banner optimisation with Arnout Hellemans in one of our previous episodes.

Zbigniew quoted a study saying a website can host between 50 and 70 cookies! Now that’s a sugar rush!

Solutions & recommendations for companies

So what should companies actually do if they’re going to be losing important third-party cookies? Zbigniew started by pointing out that third-party cookies aren’t gone yet, at least not on Chrome. Google is developing its own alternatives. Instead of targeting individuals, it will group people into cohorts, and sell those to advertisers instead. However, these are only very small groups. This move hasn’t made Google very popular – probably one of the reasons they’ve pushed back the start date for this.

Whatever you do, do it

Arnold added that companies still need to act, because Safari and Firefox have already been blocking third-party cookies for some time. And the iOS update also happened recently, making it harder to correctly attribute conversions from Facebook campaigns. So, companies need to start offering ways of getting people into their own data systems. For example, your own newsletter subscribers or people in your e-mail marketing pipeline will be more important than ever. They are in your own system so you can analyse their behaviour and re-target them accordingly. You can also personalise your website to fit their needs. The main point is to get your own data warehouse. Technologies like server-side tagging are also a good option.

Check your Facebook KPIs

When it comes to advertising on Facebook, the life-span of a cookie is now much shorter. This means you need to adjust your campaign KPIs. If, for example, the conversions from Facebook come in a longer time-frame than what the cookie is active, as they often do, then Facebook might not even work as a direct sales channel. Its KPIs might need to be changed to website visits or more top-of-the-funnel KPIs. Facebook has also developed a conversion API to help website owners to track their campaigns better, so of course big advertising platforms want to offer incentives for advertisers to keep on advertising on their sites.

Encourage people to join your mailing list

As stated previously by Arnold, getting people into your CMS is crucial. Many e-commerce companies allow people to order as a guest without having to create an account, but this option of course means less data. Zbigniew mentioned a study about why online shoppers resist creating user accounts, revealing that users’ biggest fear is signing up and getting a slew of marketing emails. E-commerce companies will then need to find a balance between maybe losing some quick orders from people who don’t want to create an account, while having all their customer data in-house.

Arnold added that in the B2B world, a lot of visitors are actually willing to give out their data in order to receive something of value. People will give out their e-mail address in exchange for an interesting, unique whitepaper. But it’s important to tell the visitor in advance what you’re going to do with their information. Are you going to just send them the whitepaper you promised, or 10 marketing emails a day forever? Don’t be sneaky! Be open about what you’re going to do with people’s data.

And that’s a wrap on cookies! Interesting times ahead for all digital marketers, certainly. Peak Ace on Air will be taking a well-deserved summer-break. We’ll be back on September 7th with a recap episode of everything that happened during the summer! See you then!

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