The End of Third-Party Cookies: What Content Marketers Need to Know

If your content marketing team is like most large-scale teams, you do a ton of research on a broad range of topics before you narrow down your upcoming editorial plan for website and content. But you might have noticed that there’s a stalker along for the ride – third-party cookies. Cookies in content marketing aren’t as sweet as their real-life counterparts. As a matter of fact, they’re downright annoying.

How annoying? Not too long ago, a friend of my wife and I had just gotten married. She’s a copywriter for a local digital agency and she was assigned to write copy for a new client, an adult entertainment group that catered to high-end bachelorette parties. Think Chippendales, and you’ll get the picture.

A dedicated workaholic, she took that assignment home with her, as she tends to do, after researching the topic thoroughly at the office. What do you think popped up when she started research on her next topic? An ad for a rival adult entertainment group, of course!

Fortunately, she was able to click away before Hubby noticed. But the creepy feeling remained. What would he have thought should he have found the naughty ad?

If we, as marketing and technology professionals who have a grasp on how third-party cookies work better than practically anyone (and truth be told, have relied on them occasionally for retargeting), feel that way, imagine how our prospects and customers feel. Chances are, they’ll likely rejoice the first time they browse through several sites and realize that there are no creepy ads following them.

The statistics bear this conjecture out. Research shows that 72 percent of Americans are concerned about having all their online activity tracked, while even more (81 percent) think that the risks of companies collecting their data well outweigh any benefits.

Ding-dong.

RIP, third-party cookies. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.

I, for one, applaud Google’s decision to fade third-party cookies out of the picture. And if yours is a customer-focused brand, you probably will, too. Here’s why:

Hail, King Content

For years, you’ve probably heard the old saying, “Content is king.” You probably accept it as a maxim.

But more likely than not, your company’s digital/advertising team (or agency) have still limped along, using third-party cookies as crutches, annoying the heck out of your prospects with their remarketing ads even as you try to woo those prospects with problem-solving content at a thought leadership level.

Not having the retargeting ad crutch to lean on puts content marketing leaders in a more favorable position when they negotiate next year’s marketing and advertising budget with the C-suite. Long-term, it simply builds a firmer, more trusting relationship between your brand and its target customers.

It’s the difference between being that stranger that hits you up on Facebook Messenger and a long-time friend who checks in on you weekly to see how you are and offer helpful tips. If the death of third-party cookies encourages more companies to go all-out for content marketing, I cheer these cookies’ demise.

But What About the “Sky Is Falling” Crowd?

I can see the handwringing now. In a recent survey conducted by GetApp for HubSpot, 41 percent of marketers think that their most significant challenge after third-party cookies’ demise will be “their inability to track the right data.” It’s no wonder that a similar percentage estimated that they would have to spend anywhere between 5 percent and 25 percent more than they did before the cookie ban to meet their goals.

Hint: They’re probably not tracking the “right data” in the first place if they’re dependent on third-party cookie data. Instead of throwing money at the problem, shift the lion’s share of your marketing budget toward your owned media, such as your blog and email list.

Limit the use of third-party data, like social media analytics, to draw the right people to your owned content, such as your blog and your email list. Then once they’re there, delight them with content that solves their problems, and they’ll be happy to give you permission to use their on-site data.

Since Google isn’t restricting first-party (on-site) cookies, you can collect data on your own site freely, provided users give you their permission. Chances are, you’ve probably used these permission forms yourself while browsing through blog posts, news stories, and other types of content. They’re simple, don’t intrude on your users’ experience, and provide you with a wealth of data.

In fact, the more they grow to trust you for your informative yet entertaining content, the more they’ll share with you. Then, when they take the next step and subscribe to your email list, you can use that data to provide them with content personalized to their unique needs.

Even Better News

There’s another glimmer of hope in that same survey – 23 percent of the marketers surveyed planned to invest in email marketing software as Google rolls out its no-cookie policy. Not a large number, but definitely a step in the right direction.

The data you can glean from your email list can give you an inroad into true empathy with your customers. Instead of thinking you know how they think through their online behavior after they leave your site, you can assess their insights right from your proprietary data.

Not only are you safeguarding their privacy, but you’re also offering them the choice to allow you to use on-site cookies to give them a stellar on-site experience. If you deliver on what you promise, they’ll reward you with their trust – and ultimately, their business.

How to Leverage the End of Third-Party Cookies in Content Planning

With less than ¼ of the survey’s respondents planning to expand their email investment in the wake of Google’s new cookie policy, it’s a golden opportunity for those companies who do plan to leverage email to hit the ground running.

From segmenting email lists into various verticals to using dynamic content that varies by the receiver’s specific needs, their position in their company, or where they are in their buyer’s journey, your email list is prime territory for making an impact on your target market. Using content automation to set this process in motion – at scale – makes this strategy a realistic option for even the largest companies.

Content planning that provides them with custom content that addresses their individual challenges demonstrates your commitment to meeting their needs. That kind of empathy is exactly what’s missing with third-party cookies’ intrusiveness – and exactly what your brand needs to dominate your industry.

Taking advantage of the death of third-party cookies demands close coordination among your content teams, subject matter experts, sales reps, and customer support teams. Working together closely in content collaboration, you can add their expertise and customer familiarity to the data you glean from your own content analytics to come up with content that’s so personalized that it seems custom-tailored.

With a central hub to coordinate it all, like DivvyHQ’s comprehensive content marketing platform, you’ll have a definitive edge over your competitors. Schedule your 14-day free trial today and see what it can do for you.