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The cookieless web, what is the impact on Salesforce Audience Studio?

Early 2020 Google announced that their browser Chrome will phase out third-party cookies in 2022. This development will likely have an impact on tracking and advertising.

 

In this blog we’ll discuss the impact on the advertising industry, how Salesforce Audience Studio has prepared for this development and things you can do to ensure a smooth transition.

What’s a cookie and why does it matter to the advertising industry? 

Cookies have been around since the early 90’s and help a website recognise a visitor and keep track of his/her preferences. One of the best examples of this is the shopping cart. Thanks to cookies the site knows what you’ve added to the cart while browsing pages.

There is an important distinction between first-party cookies and third-party cookies. First-party cookies are generated by the domain you’re browsing, these are the cookies that are used to remember logins and shopping carts. Third-party cookies are cookies that exist on the page you’re visiting but that are owned by a third-party. Not accepting these third party cookies, is likely to have an impact on the advertising industry because advertisers and publishers use cookies for advertising on the open web, generate an income via advertising and measure performance. It is so widely used because it allows for targeting and tracking across the web, regardless of where a consumer is.

Will the banning of cookies have an impact on Salesforce Audience Studio?

Although cookies have been important for Audience Studio, the platform has been evolving in the past years to meet the changing times. Besides, relying only on cookies for personalisation and advertising is a bit old-school. Modern advertisers focus on their own customer data: collecting their own data, building customer profiles and scale it as much as possible. You can then use your first-party data and identifiers to create lookalike models from your existing customers and use that to personalise.

Audience Studio can work with more identifiers than a third-party cookie. The third-party cookie was used as an ID so much because of its availability. Now that this availability will become less, other identifiers become more interesting. Audience Studio has prepared for this change and can collect many more types of IDs next to cookies: hashed emails from your customers and other customer IDs, MAID and Ad IDs that all mobile devices have and is used in apps, OTT IDs from Smart TVs. Audience Studio can collect all these different IDs and use them as ‘Addressable IDs’ in the platform and on many different activation platforms.

A key argument for why the impact on Audience Studio will be limited is that currently the share of digital ad spend using cookies is only around 25%. In-App advertising already accounts for over 60% and this form of advertising is based on MAIDs and Ad IDs and not on third-party cookies, Audience Studio can work with all these IDs. Advertising spend is also moving more and more to Google, Facebook and Amazon. In 2019 the three combined had a market share of over 60% in the US. As Walled Gardens, these vendors are moving away from cookie-based targeting and increasingly use user identifiers like hashed email or a customer ID to build and target audiences. Audience Studio (and Advertising Studio) offers integrations with these platforms based on these other identifiers and is therefore well-prepared for life after the cookies.

What can you do to ensure a smooth transition?

The phasing out of the third-party cookie will likely have an impact on your company but the good news is it also provides a lot of opportunities. There are things you can do to take advantage using Audience Studio. And since this is still an ongoing industry-wide discussion there is still time! Below are 3 things you can do:

 

  • Build your first-party data set: make sure to be in control of the data you use for personalisation and advertising. Gather data from your sites, media, CRM and think about how many identifiers a customer might have.
  • Start collecting first-party IDs: as said, a third-party cookie is just an ID, and personalisation based on your own customer data is key. With Audience Studio you can collect many more types of IDs, so start building your customer data around those IDs . This way you can still reach your customers and build lookalikes with Audience Studio. Building your own data and collecting other IDs will require more effort as you will need to convince consumers to give away an identifier like an email. Audience sizes might be smaller, especially in the beginning. But in the end the audiences you build will be of much higher quality, allowing for better targeting and personalisation opportunities. Isn’t that what we all want?
  • Collect data in Audience Studio with first-party cookies: this will ensure data collection in all major browsers so that you still have cookies as one of the IDs available in Audience Studio.

Where does this leave us?

The ban on third-party cookies will be a change for the ad tech industry and Audience Studio. But as always, changes bring opportunities. This is an opportunity to make sure you have your first-party data in order and build customer profiles around multiple identifiers. Audience Studio offers plenty of options to use other types of identifiers for advertising and personalisation. These other identifiers are already adopted by Google, Facebook, Amazon and share of ad spend is significant. Use the time we still have to adapt and the ban on cookies will have  limited impact.

 

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