How We Shift in a Post-Cookie World

How We Shift in a Post-Cookie World

The internet has redefined how we as a society interact, operate, and connect to one another. If last year has taught us anything, it is that the internet and online platforms have become integral in how we operate everyday life and have changed the way we use the internet. While technologies like Google and Amazon have made online actions easier than ever, everything comes at a cost. In a previous blog, we explored how Apple’s new iOS 14 changes will be affecting the experience for both users and businesses. This month, we are diving into the larger conversation about how major digital giants are redefining the future digital landscape amidst a “cookie-less” internet. Read more on what cookies are, why they matter, how they will affect businesses and advertisers, and more.

What Are Cookies and Why They Matter

According to the Federal Trade Commission, internet cookies are the information that is saved by your web browsers and used to recognize your device in the future. In Layman’s terms, cookies are tools that help websites track activity to better understand you as a user. While there are many benefits to internet cookies, there are also some drawbacks that have sparked concerns, policy changes, and legislation.

Pros:

For Consumers – more customized user experience and increased convenience

With the added knowledge collected from cookies about the consumer’s buying habits, search history, and user activity, websites are better able to identify and suggest content and products that similar users found relevant. Additionally, cookies allow websites to save information such as passwords and usernames to streamline user convenience.

For Businesses – more accurate understanding of consumer habits

Brands have long used cookies to track their website’s visitors to better understand their audience and fulfill their needs. Whether it be what content your favorite websites release to the most popular pieces of merchandise on an online store, this information collected by cookies gives businesses and advertisers greater insight into knowing the consensus of their audience.

Cons:

For Consumers – an infringement on user privacy

Many concerns about cookies surround data collection and whether or not the user knows their data is being collected. Additionally, consumers have mixed emotions around how their data is being managed, commoditized, and sold.

For Businesses – increased risk of losing customer trust

With this change in consumer sentiment, companies must align themselves with consumer shifts to avoid losing their audience’s trust.  According to ClickZ’s article analyzing a study conducted by Publicis Sapient, they found that while consumers had a positive view of technology, they had a negative view on data collection.

What is Changing and How This Affects Businesses and Advertisers

Many of the new national and international policies and legislation combatting excessive data collection center around gaining users’ consent to be tracked and promote an “opt-in” choice. In order for businesses, especially large online platforms, to continue building consumer trust, it is in their best interest to comply with these shifts toward more transparent online interactions.

With the implementation of this newly added “opt-in” choice on platforms such as Google and Facebook, it is likely that there will be a decline in raw information gained from consenting cookie tracking. As user information will become less available from third-party browser cookies, companies and marketing professionals will need to adapt and pivot their efforts in collecting, understanding, and reaching out to their audiences.

What Steps You Can Take

So where does this leave businesses and advertisers? Don’t fret. Sure there are concerns about how this will changing the industry, but businesses and marketers are no stranger to having to pivot and adapt.

Firstly, companies and marketers should both optimize themselves for when major platforms shift their sites. For example, with Apple’s iOS changes, here are 4 steps to prepare your Facebook advertising account for what’s to come. (Note these precautionary measures may not apply to everyone and vary between sites and businesses.) In addition to getting their interfaces ready for the shift, it is key that companies utilize the current cookie information they have access to before it disappears.

Here are 5 points to keep in mind when adjusting to the cookies-less future according to Advertising Week 360:

  1. Audit your existing data
  2. Prepare a plan for first-party data
  3. Strengthen marketplace partnerships
  4. Understand your audience contextually
  5. Leverage cookieless signals such as probabilistic data

Of this list, it is important to emphasize the increasing importance of first-party and CRM data. In this new age of data collection, the strongest data a company can use to understand their audience is the rich data they are able to collect themselves from their consenting users. Businesses and marketers will be tasked with creating new offerings and strategies to get the enthusiastic consent of their audiences. With a growing hub of first-party data, businesses and marketers will be able to explore more authentic and tailored targeting and retargeting strategies.

While this transition will be a major shift in how users, brands, and marketers operate online, keep in mind that this will become a worthwhile investment into a greater online experience overall. Though this does mean brands and marketers will have to strategize new ways to identify, target, and reach audiences, this change holds many opportunities to innovate along this unpaved road. All in all, the post-cookie digital landscape is wide open to new tools and strategies that engage in the user-business data exchange while improving trust and transparency along the way.

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Motivating Your Team During COVID-19

Motivating Your Team During COVID-19

Every Monday at 11AM, River Direct (RD) has a company-wide meeting to discuss campaign strategy and media performance for the previous week.  The entire RD staff squeezes into our main conference room to discuss media and the overall DTC marketplace. We are a small agency with a very family-oriented culture, so the meeting is also a great time to catch up with one another.

Unfortunately, that weekly gathering came to an abrupt halt with the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the initial weeks of COVID-19, there was naturally a great deal of uncertainty. River Direct employees started to work from home, and everyone had a lot of questions, but nobody seemed to have any answers.

How long are we going to work from home? Should I wear a mask, don’t wear a mask, how many times a day should I wash my hands, what should I use?  Am I going to get sick, am I going to lose my job, are our clients going to stop advertising?  What’s going to happen to my family and friends?

All valid questions and concerns, but at the end of the day, we still had a business to run and clients that depended on us. But how do you motivate your team during a pandemic?

EASY, a good old-fashioned wager.  As VP of Client Services, I wanted to keep things fun. Give our media team a seemingly UNREALISTIC GOAL and BET them that they couldn’t reach it. But what do you bet your team when they think the world is coming to an end? Money, stock options, gold bullion? BORING! So, without thinking it through fully, I said, “I will give myself a MOHAWK, if you are able to increase our billings (insert crazy percentage here)!”  At first, I immediately regretted what I said, but with the crazy number I threw out, I wasn’t TOO worried about it.

The media team had just one week to increase our overall billings, which is not a ton of time by any means. By the end of the week they had gotten within 5% of the goal and almost won the bet. A smart man who loves his hair would have learned his lesson and walked away. Not this guy, I doubled down. They came so close on the initial bet, so I felt it was only sporting to give them another shot. Our budgets were surging, and our clients were also doing very well. But push as they may, the team came up short once again.  Since our budgets kept growing, I decided to roll the dice one last time, but this time, the team needed to hit an even higher goal.  I thought: There was no way that was going to happen. So far, my salt and pepper locks had evaded the cold steel jaws of a Phillips trimmer. 

Once again, I anxiously watched the budgets grow by the minute. I knew my hair was gone when someone added two huge high-profile airings on a prime network. The team started chirping, “Get those clippers ready!”, and “Can’t wait to see your new do!”.  I pulled the budget report one last time, and sure enough, our team surpassed their goal. When I told my wife I lost the bet, she just snickered and looked at me like I was a child. Being a man of my word, I got my first ever mohawk, and I kind of liked it!

Fast forward to the Monday Zoom meeting, everyone had their cameras on except me. I thought that maybe they forgot about our bet and nobody would notice I had mine off. Not so much. As soon as I logged on, everyone said, “Turn on your camera, let’s see it!”. I clicked “Start Video,” and there I was, a grown man with a mohawk on a Zoom meeting in front of the entire company.

 

It’s never fun to lose your  hair as a result of a wager, but in this case, it was a fun way to motivate our team and keep things light.  

At the end of the day, a lot of great things came from this silly little wager. We hit our highest budgets to date this year, everyone qualified for a nice incentive, our clients had great results, and I got the haircut I always wanted, but was too scared to get. Most importantly, it was a great motivator and fun distraction that took our minds off of the pandemic for a brief moment… so it was ALL WORTH IT!

 

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