The Depreciation of Third-Party Data: What’s Next for Marketers?

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Rachel Thornton, Chief Marketing Officer, MessageBird 

By the end of 2024, the tracking cookies we use within our current marketing routines will be a thing of the past. Firefox and Safari no longer support third-party tracking, and Google has announced they’ll follow suit with plans to sunset third-party cookies in 2024.  

This comes as no real surprise - as it’s something Google has been talking about for a while. Combine that with the steady evolution of privacy regulations we have seen in recent years - like GDPR and the data reform bill 

This presents an opportunity for marketers to move beyond the traditional tracking and retargeting we have become accustomed to. An opportunity to improve how we engage with our customers and therefore make their overall experience better, richer and, most importantly, driven by them. 

What is third-party tracking? 

Third-party tracking involves data that’s not owned by the website you’re on – and it’s used after you leave. Whilst they have long been the standard - giving us detailed visibility into performance, allowing the optimisation of ads and supporting a reduction to the cost of customer acquisition - they are intrusive and don’t offer much of an experience to the customer.  

For example, a customer visits Currys to look at a camera. They then head over to John Lewis to check out something else and they are served ads for that same in their sidebar. That’s a third-party cookie tracking their internet habits.   

With the sunsetting of third-party cookies, marketers will no longer have access to vast pools of third-party data, meaning a limited number of platforms where advertising data can join together. The result? Tech giants becoming even more powerful.  

There is, however, an opportunity for anyone driving an audience to their website to look at creating better profiles that drive longer-term loyalty and engagement. The demise of third-party cookies highlights the importance of zero- and first-party data to marketers. Now is the time for marketers to hone in on these aspects and ensure we have a strategy in place that capitalises on these previously overlooked methods of data collection. 

What is conversational commerce? 

In a recent Facebook Messaging Survey run by  Nielsen, 53% of consumers surveyed said they were more likely to shop with a business they can message directly. This highlights an opportunity for marketers to create compelling customer engagement experiences, where customers will reward brands by sharing data if the experience is done correctly. Enter conversational commerce. 

Conversational commerce is “the process of selling products and acquiring customers directly on messaging channels”, and it’s changing the way businesses and customers engage with each other. It's also changing the way marketers develop and deploy campaigns and the way customer service teams interact with a product's users.  

Through the preferences that customers express as part of their direct engagement with brands, businesses will know which channels a customer prefers to receive communications on, the frequency and the content and that in turn helps marketers continue to fine-tune their customers’ experience with the brand with the goal of increasing retention and loyalty. 

By shifting the focus to personalisation, direct engagement with customers will allow marketers to learn about channel, content and frequency preferences, thus delivering a better experience for both the brand and the consumer. Instead of asking the customer for an email address to notify them when a product is back in stock, brands can encourage the customer to enter into a two-way conversation over WhatsApp or via chatbot. By communicating in real-time, the customer has an instant answer to their query, building confidence in the brand and increasing the likelihood that they will make a purchase. What’s more, the brand has now collected first-party/opt-in compliant data.  

Where to start with conversational commerce? 

Overhauling your marketing strategy is a daunting feat. But whatever you decide to implement, you should always start with the customer and work backwards. Having an understanding of your customers will help you design an experience that feels natural to them. 

Think about the types of experiences they will want with you. What their touch points need to be. Which channels do they use?  

Then take a look at where there are breaks in your current customer experience journey; where are you losing customers in the funnel? Where are there fracture points in your customer service?  

Check for any bottlenecks throughout that process too. Document what the ideal journey for your customer could be and then map that to your organisation to figure out which are the most important areas to tackle first. 

For marketers, conversational commerce is a 180-degree change from the old way but it's a totally welcome and exciting change! It makes valuable data capture much more natural and enables brands to provide customers with the high-quality experience they deserve - a win for both sides.