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Audience Management: How to Prepare for the Uncertain “Cookieless” World

While we as individuals are facing uncertain times during this global pandemic, marketers are also challenged professionally, by our organizations and our customers, for the seemingly distant, but forthcoming “cookieless” world.

Just like the virus for which there is currently no cure, the marketing industry does not have a universally accepted solution to the “cookieless” environment in which we will be working. However, one question that we can ask ourselves is how we can make the best use of this time to prepare for the uncertain future.

Gather the facts  

Arguably one of the most important things, professionally and personally, is to gather facts, not fear. It’s human nature to react to fear; it’s also only human to transform from reacting to fear to responding to facts. For example, although we call it a “cookieless” world, the first-party cookie is NOT going away.

The biggest misunderstanding around the DMP is that it is only valuable for targeting prospects using 3rd party cookie data. (If I had a one-dollar bill to put in my savings jar every time I heard people say DMP is purely about third-party data, I would be a millionaire by now.) From my five years’ experience working on DMPs, actually many of our clients are harvesting value from using first-party cookie data in the DMP. This is especially true if you are using Adobe Audience Manager and Adobe Analytics together; all site data from Adobe Analytics is a first-party cookie data. Before making any hasty decision on throwing away a valuable technology, turn to facts - not fear.

While DMP is still a viable product and produces value, it is important to look at the future and evaluate tools and technologies that do not rely on third-party cookie data.  We also believe that the existing DMPs are in the evolution to continue to provide value with the new reality.

Leverage new tools that are purposefully built for the new environment

With third-party cookies becoming obsolete, first-party personally identifiable information (PIIs) and first-party cookies are becoming the strongest currencies within the digital world. New technology like the Customer Data Platform (CDP) is one of the most sought-after technologies in the audience management world. Most CDPs use email as a universal key to match with first-party cookies and device IDs to help you create your own ID graph, create audiences at level, and activate them through online and offline channels.

At the same time, a shared vision doesn’t always mean a common reality. I can’t emphasize more the distinctions among different CDPs in the market today. There are more than one hundred technology vendors that label themselves as CDPs. That’s why we have a saying at Merkle, “Customer Data Platform (CDP) is not a thing…it’s a collection of capabilities… offered by a lot of providers.” (I will follow up on the differences and common misperception of CDPs in another blog where we are going to focus on some proven facts.)

Invest in People

Last but not the least, it’s never wrong to invest in people. To achieve long-term success and happiness, professionally and personally, we need to grow together with people around us and we usually learn the most when we are challenged. Often, when clients ask us to fix a particular piece of technology, we find that it was not the technology, but the right talent and skillset that were missing. A question that every visionary marketer needs to ask is, “How can we help our team adopt new mindset and skillsets in the “cookie-less world?”

Till we “meet” next time, be safe, focus on the facts, and invest in the right technology and people.

If you are interested in a deeper discussion on how to manage audiences in the “cookie-less” future, check out my on-demand webinar with Merkle SVP, Audience Science & Management, Sunil Rao. Watch now here.