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09/29/2020

Privacy, Trust and Retailers’ Cookie Conundrum

 

Consumers have been requesting stronger safeguards to preserve and protect their digital identities. As a result, increasingly tougher requirements are being instituted by browsers such as Chrome and Safari, and regulators, to meet their demands.

But consumers, especially returning customers, also want a customized, personalized experience when they visit a website looking for a product or service — a benefit that cookies are integral in providing.

Caught up in the middle of this “cookie conundrum” are retailers that want to build trusted relationships with customers. Many businesses are doing the right thing to abide by the rules, but they aren’t even aware of the data third-party enterprises collect from their website visitors.

For any retailer, increased restrictions on the collection of customer information has huge impact on their ability to find consumer insight, optimize ad spend, and deploy any kind of personalized or intent-based marketing efforts. Cookie restrictions could create a situation where a retailer’s website doesn’t remember its customers and their preferences, leading to pitching products/services they already have or don’t care about. That erodes trust and hinders efficiency.

This presents a very hefty and important challenge to all businesses and their attribution and analytics providers. The products and services offered by ad servers and marketing automation companies must fundamentally change to accommodate this new first-party landscape.

But all is not lost. There are specific analytics solutions in the marketing industry — from those very same companies providing attribution and website analytics — that can close the gaps between customer experience, privacy and advertising.

One solution is for businesses to use their domain and website to produce and authenticate their own first-party cookies, rather than relying on the third-party cookies from existing vendors. This avoids the limitations placed on third-party cookies, and a greater degree of personalization and messaging can be established.

Visualize advertising for a business as a big maze. Advertisers want to send as many people into the maze as possible and provided guidance and messaging to help them get to the middle of the maze and buy a product/service. The best path is faster, cheaper, and more enjoyable — for the consumer and the business.

Knowing how customers completed the maze and the exact paths they took — user “x” turned at junction “y” — helps businesses take impartial attribution data and adjust their marketing programs. Think of attribution as a bulldozer clearing a path straight to the middle of the maze. Cookies are the backbone of this insight and reveal the optimized paths customers are taking.

This is about protecting the customer experience. Consumers actually want to be helped, have the businesses they trust remember their login, and have their bank raise an alert if a new device tries to login. All of that seamless web experience consumers have come to expect is built on cookies. Marketers and customers need those cookies, but now they need to be first-party or their value will be lost.

AJ Brown is CEO and co-founder of LeadsRx, a marketing attribution company. AJ’s inspiration for LeadsRx stems from his experience heading up marketing for several businesses as well as software engineering over his 2.5-decade career.

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