October 6, 2021

How the Cookie Will Crumble

Digital Marketing

Cookie Deprecation and the Marketing Implications

Before the age of the internet, any reference to a cookie had a universally accepted meaning: a round, tasty treat, the kind pursued with passion by a certain Sesame Street character popular in children’s programming.

With the ubiquity of the world wide web, “cookies” have taken on another meaning. In the digital world, cookies are files that hold information about your activity on the internet. Some allow a website to remember you and better understand what you do when you visit the site. Others can track your movements online in general and register your activity and preferences.

The implication for building materials brands and their marketing efforts is clear. Using cookies enables you to identify your target audiences more readily based on their online behavior. Through digital advertising, you can tailor your message and target a pre-vetted audience with that message, leading to greater engagement for your brand.

The challenge: The rules are about to change through an initiative known as cookie deprecation. In essence, the practice would eliminate the use of certain kinds of critical tracking data.

The Roots of Change: The GDPR and the CCPA

In 2018, the European Union passed the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR), considered to be the toughest laws of their kind in the world. They are aimed at protecting the privacy and security of individuals when online. Anyone seeking to engage the citizens of the European Union online are subject to the laws, and violating them can result in stiff fines.

Such regulations have hit our own shores as well. Also enacted in 2018, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) provides greater privacy protection for individuals. Among other things, the law provides citizens of the state with the right to know about the personal information a business collects about them and the right to delete such information. People can also opt out of the sale of their personal information.

The Canadian government has enacted similar laws to protect the privacy of its citizens when online. Those laws continue evolve.

These new laws have had a ripple effect on web browsers and search engines, particularly Google.

Starting in January of 2020, Google announced that it would phase out third-party cookies on Chrome browsers by 2022. According to a Google blog post in January 2020: “Users are demanding greater privacy – including transparency, choice and control over how their data is used – and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.”

Google has since pushed back its implementation of cookie deprecation, and an actual implementation date has yet to be confirmed. Nevertheless, the push is on to change the digital environment that advertisers have relied on for years to identify their target audience and market more precisely to them.

The Digital Ripple Effect

What does this mean for building materials manufacturers who include programmatic digital advertising or other forms of digital engagement in their marketing matrix?

HubSpot recently published research conducted by GetApp on this subject. The impact may very well be systemic for marketers of all kinds. According to that research:

  • 41% of marketers believe their biggest challenge will be their inability to track the right data.
  • 44% of marketers predict a need to increase their spending by 5% to 25% to reach the same goals as 2021.
  • 23% of marketing experts plan on investing in email marketing software due to Google’s new policy.

While the paradigm may be shifting when it comes to digital advertising, it is important to note that Google only plans to remove third-party cookies on its browsers. Third-party cookies are created by domains that are not on the website you are visiting and are the ones typically utilized for online advertising purposes. Third-party cookies track your online behavior, particularly other sites you’ve visited or preferences you have made known online.

By contrast, first-party cookies are codes generated when someone visits your website. These will remain in place on Google Chrome. As a building materials manufacturer, you will continue to be able to gather data on your website visitors – how often they visit the site, what pages they visited, how long they spent on your site, and more.

What’s a Marketer to Do?

In essence, the marketplace is still sorting out the implications of removing third-party cookies from a digital environment.

As a building materials manufacturer, the best advice for you is to begin looking at alternatives that may alleviate the impact of third-party cookie deprecation:

  • First-Party Cookie Strategies: Begin looking at ways to maximize the data you can secure from your own website about your visitors and their activities. This data remains available and vital to your business and can help you develop strategies to more readily target users, moving them from casual observers to marketing-qualified leads. This can be done through eMarketing campaigns.
  • Monitor the Evolution: Google has already begun to look at alternate scenarios to replace third-party cookies with something they are dubbing the Privacy Sandbox, a concept that is still taking shape. In addition, BLD Marketing works with a variety of digital programmatic advertising vendors that rely on third-party cookie data. They are also looking at ways to replace this important source of information so they can continue to target key audiences on our clients’ behalf.

For now, cookies remain a key component of any digital marketing strategy. What remains fully available and viable to marketers as they build their digital marketing strategies is still an unknown and something that will continue to evolve over time.

BLD Marketing can help you create a digital marketing ecosystem for your building materials brand that is primed to drive engagement and awareness of your brand.


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