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Kick the Cookie Habit. Prepare Your Retail Business For the End of Third-party Cookies.

Through the rise of digital commerce, marketers have become increasingly addicted to cookies. But as tech companies and government regulations push them off our plates, business is struggling to adapt. All kinds of customer personalization across virtually all industries depends extensively on cookies—and marketers are unsure how they will be able to deliver personalized digital experiences without them.

Marketers know they must find a way to keep delivering personalized digital experiences in a world without cookies. Fortunately, a new approach to customer data can help them do it.

Finding a solution is a critical priority. Of the marketing leaders who responded to a Merkle survey, 91 percent said getting the digital experience right is essential to their brands’ survival over the next 10 years.

The good news is you can still deliver personalized experiences at scale without cookies. 

Find a healthier alternative

In truth, the end of cookies may be less problematic for your business than you think. Marketers may serve them up by the dozen, but a lot of the data they generate is actually junk food that jams up the system. For example, if you sell auto insurance, it’s probably not very helpful to know that someone likes to ski. Focusing instead on the quality of your customer data—how you ingest it, enhance it, activate it, and secure it—not only helps you navigate a cookieless future, it also helps you drive more relevant and compelling customer experiences.

Let customers tell you who they are

As stated in the previous chapter, one of the best ways to collect truly relevant data about your customers without cookies is to simply ask them. Whatever they share directly with your company is first-party data. Many customers are willing to share their data in exchange for lower prices or other benefits—for example, 39 percent said they would share their personal data if they received discounts or other monetary compensation.

Promotions and loyalty programs are proven ways to incentivize customers to share relevant data. The same survey cited above also revealed that offering an incentive-based call to action with targeted promotions can yield 40 percent registration rates, helping to enrich consumer profiles and secure opt-ins for ongoing marketing and customer relationship management (CRM) activities.

Leverage strategic partnerships.

Another promising post-cookie strategy for brands is to build partnerships with complementary businesses that provide access to second-party data. These partnerships can involve crosspromotions that are valuable for both participating brands and their customers. For example, a sporting goods manufacturer and an outdoors-oriented retail chain might put together a special deal and offer it to both companies’ customers.

Identity resolution pairs well with private ID graphs. Adobe Experience Platform works seamlessly with private ID graphs like Merkury powered by Merkle to create a 360-degree view of the customer and allow marketers to orchestrate powerful, data-led customer experiences across marketing, sales, commerce, and service. Ideally, your martech stack for the cookieless world should include an experience platform, an identity resolution platform, and a private identity graph.

Build your private ID graphs

An identity graph is a collection of data known about your customers, such as physical and email addresses, phone numbers, device IDs, and other offline and online information—including cookie data. For many years, brands have relied on public ID graphs, like those built by social media companies using tracking cookies, to power targeted outreach and personalized experiences. But as cookies are phased out, the value of these public ID graphs will diminish. In their place, marketers should look to create their own private ID graphs. This kind of ID graph is owned and managed by the brand and built from first-party customer data collected from across its various business systems: sales and service platforms, websites and marketing channels, loyalty programs, mobile apps, etc. Over time, each customer’s ID graph grows in size (and value) with the addition of new first-party data and behaviors such as logins, site visits, media reach, outbound email campaigns, and more— along with the second- and third-party data marketers choose to import.

Develop a data strategy and toolset

As you can imagine, data management and governance—including compliance with growing privacy regulations—are key to the health and value of private ID graphs.

Identity platforms such as Merkury powered by Merkle bring powerful identity resolution technology and other advanced features to help brands with this work in a variety of ways. Identity resolution is what allows marketers to connect disparate contextual, behavior, and enterprise information about their customers to better target, personalize, and measure marketing and advertising across an omnichannel experience.

Along with the platform itself, marketers need a firm grasp of the additional data they will use to enrich their identity graphs, and how they may want to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning capabilities to drive modeling, attribution, and deeper insights about their customers.

Take the next step

With cookies off the plate, the future may appear uncertain and worrisome. But by taking steps like launching loyalty programs, forging partnerships to collect second-party data, and building the right data strategies and tech stacks, marketers can position themselves for success in the post-cookie era. The benefits of doing so are real and significant. In general terms, taking ownership of identity enables brands to do all of these things:

• Maximize reach

• Enhance targeting

• Improve personalization

• Reduce ad waste

• Measure and continuously improve

Want to learn more? Download the guide, Adobe Retail Technologies here.

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