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Three Steps to Deliver Personalized Healthcare Marketing in a Cookieless World

Health marketers who want to deliver personalized experiences across all channels must evolve the use of the person-level ID to balance differentiated offerings with privacy. Following Apple’s lead, Google recently announced that Chrome will start blocking third-party cookie tracking within the next two years. Marketers are wondering, what’s left? The ad industry will now begin to replace third-party cookies with new person-level identifiers versus relying on anonymous IDs. For all media channels in the omni-channel world that have logged in, PII-based matching will be even more critical. This will result in greater media efficiencies and more relevant experiences with fewer wasted impressions. Identity management will also become a more critical need as person-level data replaces third-party cookies.

What Should Health Marketers Do Now?

First, marketers must start with understanding Google’s updated ad solutions and, then, track how Google will expand its tools to encourage the greater web, other advertising companies, and browsers to do the same. For marketers, a change of process is inevitable as evidenced by Google’s new release of Chrome 80, effective February 4, 2020.  With this new release, Chrome is rolling out its enforcement of a new secure-by-default cookie classification system to drive clearer partitioning of cookies between first-party and third-party data. 

This is good news for marketers with an opt-in from their customers. Chrome’s new release will enable users to clear third-party cookies with minimal disruption to first-party experiences like sign-in. However, this will have a major impact on marketers and publishers who rely on ad targeting with digital sites that use  cookies, including onboarding CRM lists to DMPs and DSPs (e.g. Live Ramp) for digital targeting, real-time cross-platform reach and frequency management, programmatic display media buying, and reporting and attribution of digital campaigns. 

These sweeping changes in digital media will be remedied by:

  • Replacing third-party cookies with a new universal identifier
  • Leveraging first-party data for both marketers and media partners
  • Media channels that have login and PII-based matching will be even more critical
  • Email, site personalization, and tactics like addressable-connected media (e.g. digital radio, addressable TV) will warrant greater focus

Where Does the Healthcare Industry Go From Here?

1. Increase focus on first-party opt-in data, especially email addresses to rationalize identity.

Publishers like Hearst, Pandora, and Medscape embed identity tags into their first-party domains. Marketers can identify individual targets based on available PII-based data set. In the not-to-distant future, you won’t have to match audiences via cookies and across publishers, rather it will match audiences across owned and partner PII-based data sets, for which the main identifier is a hashed email address.

2. Review and update Identity management solutions.

All CRM-based marketers have at least one identity ecosystem in place today. These will continue to evolve to more email-based audiences in order to support ad-targeting.  For example, at Merkle, we help define CRM roadmaps to rationalize an email-based identification approach for marketers within the healthcare ecosystem. The objective for our clients remains to manage identity for HCPs and consumers, develop omni-channel addressable programs, and extend reach for ‘known’ and anonymous NPP programs (online/offline) in a privacy-safe way.

3. Explore new solutions like Merkury as an enterprise identity platform.

While cookie deprecation will have both experience, media and analytics ramifications,various service providers, Merkle included, are supportive of Google’s leadership position and changes to Google’s ad technology and cookie policies. These changes represent an important step in a privacy-forward, user-centric future.

We have been anticipating this trend for many years. Our 30+ year heritage in customer-centric marketing means Merkle is well prepared to respond to these policy changes and we’re also able to provide competitive solutions for our clients. Timed accordingly, in February Merkle announced the launch of Merkury – a new identity system to help wean marketing and media buyers in the ad industry off cookies. Merkury is an identifier designed to allow marketers to continue targeting audiences online without using third-party cookies. 

Advertisers can now combine their first-party data with Merkle’s proprietary data, which includes PII-based identifiers, such as hashed email addresses, to build and find audiences across the Merkury publisher network. By matching hashed email addresses to the Merkury tag, advertisers can target audiences on both consumer and health endemic sites in the network, and better manage omni-channel, personalized experiences in a privacy safe way.

For more information on how to deliver personalized marketing without cookies, contact Croom Lawrence and Kent Groves.