Digital AdvertisingOther

[INTERVIEW—Honda] Digital marketers mustn’t wait for a new star to replace 3rd-party cookies

Louise McMahon

Last Updated on: 26th May 2024, 07:28 pm

How will clients assess their marketing services partners amid the decline of 3rd-party cookies, and what strategies can help firms prosper?

The digital advertising industry is facing a precipitous moment on the back of Google’s decision to remove 3rd-party cookies from its Chrome browser in 2023, but marketeers must act now by implementing other strategies rather than waiting for the perfect solution to replace their favourite tracking tool. In this interview, Louise McMahon, Automotive Marketing Communications Section Manager at Honda UK, outlines what changes her business has made and what marketing services partners need to do to stay relevant when it comes to cookieless advertising.

In this article you will learn:

  • How firms have been reacting to the impending decline of 3rd-party cookies
  • What marketing services partners can do to stay relevant
  • Which strategies can be harnessed while the industry seeks a replacement for the 3rd-party cookies

Table of Contents:

Don’t wait for perfection

Digital marketeers are facing their “How to solve a problem like Maria” moment right now with the reality of cookieless advertising approaching.

When renowned British composer Andrew Lloyd Webber failed after four years to find a suitable actress to play the iconic role of Maria Von Trapp in his West End production of The Sound of Music, he approached the BBC to launch a television talent show in a last-ditch attempt to find the right actress for the job.

Just like Mr Webber, digital marketeers are embarking on a search for the perfect replacement to 3rd-party cookies, which have played a starring role in most advertisers’ arsenals.

But with 3rd-party cookies being removed from Chrome in 2023, the industry is searching for something to fill the vacancy; it’s looking for its next Maria.

This search will be difficult, and could be fruitless, which is why firms need to act now with the tools at their disposal.

Pushing reset

When it comes to cookieless advertising, marketing services partners must know which strategies are available to the brands they are working with and how best to harness them in the context of the decline of 3rd-party cookies.

McMahon said there had been “many other factors” besides the impending decline of 3rd-party cookies that have changed the way her firm evaluates marketing services partners meaning that anyone still relying on 3rd-party cookies needs to act now.

She notes that GDPR prompted the company to “wipe our databases and start again from scratch”, meaning it had rapidly become focused on building “compliant 1st-party data”.

“I think the last two years of living with a pandemic have also had a massive influence,” she says. “We have had to be more agile than ever, and have had to lead a data-first driven approach, and our marketing partners have been able to work with us to help us facilitate this.”

She says a key goal has been to secure 1st-party data that goes beyond simple analytics so that every penny her firm, which is “not the biggest player in the market”, invests in marketing is working as hard as possible.

“The measures that we have already taken as part of this natural progression has meant that we still have 1st party data to work with when the cookie changes happen,” she adds.

Yiuwin Tsang, founder of B2B marketing and business development consultancy Disruptive Thinking, says, the phasing out of third-party cookies has “created a really interesting reset of marketing metrics, specifically around attributable return on investment (ROI)”.

“Marketeers, for a while, have looked towards direct customer engagement as a North Star KPI, but with an increasingly fickle audience whose members find themselves scrolling continuously, the ability to capture attention becomes ever more important,” he states.

He adds that marketing services partners, in order to be ready for the cookieless future, need to be able to understand how the value proposition of the product or service holds relevance in the world of the audience or customer.

“Leveraging this understanding to create compelling and engaging campaign activity will differentiate marketing partners that deliver real value versus those whose key value proposition of harvesting user cookie data will be diminished,” he says.

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Exploring boundaries

It will be imperative for brands to search for these marketing services partners who did their homework in order to ensure they are offering a desirable service.

“We need partners that are going to help us find a way to get cut through,” McMahon says. “We also want a partner that has more digital expertise than us. We want them to bring innovation to us, challenge us, push us out of our comfort zone, but they still need to listen to us and understand what works best for the brand.

“Innovation that doesn’t bring any tangible benefit, doesn’t do anyone any favours – it needs to be able to demonstrate a tangible result.”

Tsang says lots of his clients are “pushing relationships or connections as the key value driver”.

“We’re seeing a lot of traction in community-based engagement, where it’s the interaction between consumers, as well as between consumer and brand, that is paramount,” he adds.

All about the data

Without 3rd-party cookies, it’s undeniable that data will have to be an intrinsic part of any marketing strategy. But simply gathering it will not be enough.

“A marketing services partner should be able to demonstrate how they can leverage the data to the benefit of the brand for insights on which business decisions and marketing strategies can be made,” McMahon says.

Alongside this, though, remembering the basics will be key in a cookieless future as well; understanding the customer and the brand should be non-negotiable components of a marketing strategy.

“Any routes to markets used need to bring the brand to life in a way that appeals to the target audience, in an authentic and real way,” McMahon says. “If there is no understanding of the brand, the authenticity can not be achieved.”

The fact that these core principles remain important suggests marketeers shouldn’t be static while they wait for Google’s Privacy Sandbox to confirm a solution to supplant 3rd-party cookies; they need to be proactive in preparation for a cookieless future, and unafraid of trying new strategies or of reinvigorating old ones, all the while ensuring a high level of due diligence.

Rather than waiting for their Maria, it might be best not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

If you have any questions, comments or issues, or you’re interested in meeting with us, please get in touch.