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The third-party cookie is dead; long live appcommerce!

By Poq Commerce | Friday January 29 2021 | UPDATED 29.01.21

2020 was a tumultuous year for retailers to say the least. But mobile appcommerce provider, Poq, is looking ahead to the emerging digital tracking challenges

While there’s hope that life will slowly begin to return to something resembling normal, many other challenges still remain for retailers, not least being the death of the third-party cookie.

Google announced the phasing out of the third-party cookie over the next two years some time ago. Cookies have commonly been used by advertisers to follow users around the web in support of retargeting efforts.

At the same time, Apple is causing similar challenges for marketers by making changes to its Identifier for Advertisers (IDFA), a random identifier assigned to a user’s Apple device that can be used by advertisers to track data about users, such as the types of ads a user clicks on, which allow marketers to measure and attribute campaigns.

These changes are forcing retail marketers to think more creatively about how to target consumers and track their activity on owned and publisher websites. We’ve seen startups try and fight with Google to keep the cookie intact. But, as we see these changes coming into effect, it’s apparent that retailers need to be acting now.

Why is it a challenge?

Google is removing these cookies in a bid to champion user privacy. Similarly, the IDFA - which also allows advertisers to target and retarget audience segments within their app, such as those who have installed and not purchased, or those who like to shop a specific category - is soon becoming ‘opt in.’ This means that, in order to track users across mobile, brands and advertisers will have to explicitly ask for their permission.

With little to no reason for users to opt in, marketers must plan to expect that this will no longer be at their disposal. Both the Google and Apple updates will no doubt cause mass upset among advertisers, affiliates and publishers, who will no longer be able to rely on these simple tracking methods to follow users around the web to serve customers relevant ads.

What can retailers do?

Where advertisers can no longer rely on third-party cookie data, it’s important that they begin to look at their own first-party data, including where it is collected and how it can be used. For retailers, apps are a great way to gain data insights on existing consumers, in a consenting, mutually beneficial, non-intrusive way.

The fact that apps require sign-in upon entry and have the ability to be linked to loyalty cards that can be used in-store means that the data retailers are able to harvest is extremely accurate and representative of both the online and store-based activity of each customer. This first-party sales and engagement data gives retailers insight on how customers interact with a brand.

It also reveals browsing habits and shows the journey consumers make to purchase. By analysing this data, retail marketers are able to pull together an overall profile of their typical client base and remarketing efforts can be planned more cost-efficiently based on this owned insight.

Building trust

These new updates from Apple and Google are to be expected when user privacy is rising up the social agenda. Consumers are keen to regain control of their data and, ultimately, this should be seen as a good thing. Cookies and IDs are far too easy to track back to specific users and, while this can enable advertisers to create extremely accurate user profiles, it is more beneficial for brand trust to ensure that users feel safe and in control of their own data in the long run. Retail marketers must look to other trusted areas where data can be collected on consumers to help aid their campaigns; and, an app is the perfect place to start.

While there is no quick or definitive alternative solution to the crumbling cookie or the IDFA, these changes should actually serve as an opportunity for marketers to take a look at the data they have at their disposal and how it can be used. For brands and retailers who already have an app, the data collected here should be the first port of call for accurate consumer insights; and, for those yet to embrace apps, instead of harvesting from out-of-date legacy systems, embracing an app strategy can serve to streamline this data.

It’s been a challenging time for retailers, and adaptability is proving crucial to survival in these testing times. So, it's important for brands to think creatively about refining their offering and utilizing their owned customer data to the best of their ability to overcome these new third-party marketing and advertising changes ahead.

To learn more about how retailers are using appcommerce to address these issues, don’t miss Poq’s upcoming AppRising virtual event, on 11th February 2021.

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