While some marketers and advertisers may be tossing their proverbial cookies worrying about how to adjust to the end of third-party cookies tracking in 2023, others are already testing new strategies, including Trilix.

Tried and True Media Tactics

Our media team knows that third-party cookies allow them to expand target audiences tremendously. We can display relevant digital ads to both loyal customers and to users who might be likely to make a purchase even if they weren’t previously aware of the brand.

However, because third-party data won’t be available much longer, we’ve already created A/B tests to examine how digital campaigns perform without it. We also partner with vendors who work with a combination of first- and third-party data.

Ultimately, first-party data is going to become more crucial. We will work with clients to better collect and leverage current customers’ data through customer relationship management tools. We’ll also work with clients to better understand how the success of a campaign is measured in the future.

“We’ve previously tracked a digital campaign’s success partly through the audience segments we were able to target,” said Haley Austin, digital media analyst. “Since we won’t be able to break audiences into first-, second- and third-party segments in the future, we may have to rely on other metrics — some of which have always been strong indicators of success. For example, we could note that a client’s website traffic is better, sales improved or the phone is ringing more, even though we can't necessarily say which audience segment or exact digital campaign led to the conversion.”

Sharpened Social Strategies

Our social media experts agree that capturing first-party data is crucial to future digital marketing efforts. Previously, we took advantage of the Facebook pixel, a tool the social media giant created that uses third-party cookies. The Facebook pixel collects data to track web behavior and conversions from users who click on Facebook and Instagram ads, allowing marketers to build targeted audiences and retarget ads to those who interacted with the intended website in the past.

Fortunately, Facebook has developed Conversions API for marketers to use after the pixel is no longer an option. Conversions API allows Facebook and an organization’s server to communicate and gather first-party data as users navigate from social ads to your site. However, social media marketers still won’t be able to target as precisely without third-party data.

“In a lot of ways, we’re going to go back to how marketing used to be. Instead of precision targeting, you need to have better creative assets that cut through the clutter. The positive is that all marketers will be shifting their approach at the same time, so there’s a level playing field.”

Digital advertising is returning to the fundamentals that have driven traditional advertising for centuries. Ads need to capture users’ attention by ensuring the visuals and copy are as clear and compelling as possible. Brand marketing may overshadow direct response marketing, as brands seek to become top-of-mind for consumers who can no longer be precisely targeted with the right product at the right time.

“In a lot of ways, we’re going to go back to how marketing used to be,” Digital Communications Manager Kramer McLuckie predicted. “Instead of precision targeting, you need to have better creative assets that cut through the clutter. The positive is that all marketers will be shifting their approach at the same time, so there’s a level playing field.”  

A Tangled Opt-In Web

Without third-party cookies, Trilix’s web developers believe the browsing experience may feel cumbersome. While the intent of nixing cookie tracking is to give consumers more control over their data, the result will be a world wide web full of sites that each require users to opt into data tracking before they can enter.

“Some web developers’ sites aren’t good about using first-party cookies to remember you opted into cookies tracking,” said Yancy de Lathouder, vice president of technology. “Some sites even ask you to opt in on every page.”

Our web team is working to implement Facebook’s Conversions API and other workarounds for conversion tracking, yet many marketers don’t have access to a web development team, making it more important to work with an integrated, full-service agency (like Trilix). For now, brands can use the first-party data they already collected, but that information could quickly become outdated.

“Facebook may have come up with a workaround, but there’s no universal solution,” Yancy said. “Marketers are creative, and technology is a wide field. I’m sure solutions will start coming.”

While technological changes can feel daunting, it’s reassuring to know everyone is affected by the shift. The good news is marketers don’t have to do the work alone.

Trilix already has developed plans to stay ahead of the curve. Our media and social media experts are honing tactics we’ve previously used — to much success, and our web team is developing more ways to collect first-party data. If all this cookie talk is giving your tummy pangs of apprehension rather than hunger, message us to learn how we can guide your brand through the end of third-party cookies tracking.