On March 3rd, Google placed a firm stake in the ground saying, “Today, we’re making explicit that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.”
This means that Google will ultimately stop enabling cross-site tracking; and third-party cookies will become a thing of the past. While the full implications of what this means for the marketing industry still has yet to unfold, we expect third-party cookies to be phased out by January 2022.
Undoubtedly, this shift will create ripples throughout the marketing funnel but it is arguable that customer acquisition will suffer significantly from the removal of third-party data.
In the past six years, the cost of acquiring new customers has increased 60%. All the while, two of the most commonly cited marketing priorities among companies are, reducing costs of customer acquisition, and proving ROI of marketing efforts. Marketers face a real challenge balancing the increasing consumer acquisition cost and the desire to keep acquisition costs low. The shift in the google landscape only exacerbates this misalignment in costs. Previously marketers have looked to third party data in conjunction with paid ads in their customer acquisition strategies to reduce cost and increase ROI.
The removal of third party cookies means SEO strategies and obtaining first party data are going to play a larger role in customer acquisition. Without having look-a-like audiences to supplement the top of your funnel, SEO tactics like branded keywords, broad match phrases, and relevant content (featured snippets) become critical drivers for the top of funnel audience. Marketers are also going to have to re-evaluate each stage of the marketing funnel to look for opportunities to capture consumer data.
Over the next 18 months, savvy marketers will differentiate their operation by coming up with innovative ways to supplement marketing strategies and fill the data gaps that will emerge as the Google cookie crumbles.