Retailers: Become Data Sovereign Before Third-party Cookies Go Away
In our last blog, Third-party Cookies are Going Away: What Should Retailers Do about It?, we discussed Google’s announcement that third-party marketing cookies will go away by the end of 2023. To recap quickly, this decision appeases consumers who want more privacy and control over their personal data and online behaviors, and it helps eliminate the security risks of hackers breaching or mimicking marketing cookies in order to access consumer data. Whether you view this as a good or not-so-good move, when Google eliminates marketing cookies, sweeping changes will occur for the ways that retail marketers collect data in order to understand, target, advertise, and engage with customers.
However, we don’t yet know what new technologies will replace third-party cookies in order to help marketers gather similar behavioral data and target ads. Yet it’s never a good idea to simply wait for change to occur. Instead, we recommend proactively making changes now so that you’re well-positioned to manage the demise of cookies when, and some say “if,” this change occurs. If you prepare now, then you can quickly utilize new technologies that may replace marketing cookies.
Our previous post recommended that retailers create an in-house, first-party data platform so that you gain the most value from your existing customer data, become data sovereign, and future-proof your customer data strategy. In other words, you own your data, so that you don’t have to rely on third-party data as your core customer information source. In this blog, we’ll discuss the next steps for bringing your marketing data in-house.
Create an In-house, First-party Data Platform
Take Inventory of First-party Data Sources
To start, you need an inventory of your in-house, first-party data sources. These could be records in a CRM or contact center system, ecommerce or physical store point-of-sale transaction data, visitors to your website, newsletter subscribers, and the like. First-party data is all of the data that your company or your brand collected first-hand.
Once you’ve completed an inventory, you have the starting point for your first-party data platform. This data is likely siloed in different systems across your company. You must unify and consolidate this data so that you can see all of the information regarding a single customer in one place—thereby creating a 360-degree customer view.
Determine Your Data Platform Needs
Here, you want to think big-picture and long-term about what you must do with your first-party data. You’ll not only need to consolidate existing in-house data from different sources, but also want to ingest net-new data from these different sources as the data flows in. You’ll want to enrich your first-party data with external third-party data sources—for example, appending demographic information in order to garner more insights about your customers or visibility into prospective customers. You’ll want a powerful platform that will let you segment audiences, create profiles and customer models, manage customer identities, and provide analytical insights that inform your marketing efforts. Moreover, you’ll want a flexible platform that can easily integrate with other internal systems, tools, and external vendors.
Build vs. Buy
Once you’ve established a solid understanding of your first-party data sources and your data platform needs, then you must decide if your company will build or buy the data platform. If you’re going to build, then determine if you have the skills and expertise to design, build, deploy, and maintain the data platform. If not, or it’s more than your IT department can take on, then you’ll want to find a vendor to provide the data platform solution you need. Even if your company “buys” the data platform from an external technology vendor, your company still owns the data.
A Few More Thoughts
While we’ve provided a very high-level strategy for creating an in-house, first-party data platform, we don’t want to give you the false sense that this can simply be figured out overnight by a new employee. Simultaneously, this task isn’t insurmountable. Done right, it will take time to figure out your existing first-party data sources, data platform needs, and whether it’s better to build or buy a solution. You may want to designate an experienced team of marketers and IT people to tackle this legwork so that you can develop your company’s best strategy. Furthermore, once your strategy is developed and approved, you’ll need to assemble the right team in order to execute it and then manage the data platform long-term.
As we head into the fourth quarter of 2021, retailers have a little over two years to:
- Understand the challenges lying ahead as marketing cookies are expected to go away.
- Determine the data platform needs of your company.
- Develop a comprehensive strategy so that you own and control the data you need to effectively engage and attract customers in a post-marketing cookie world.
If you want to discuss your in-house, first-party data needs, AWS is here to help. Contact your account team today to get started.