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Emptying out the cookie jar: Challenges and opportunities for marketers

This is the era of privacy. The modern consumer expects truly personalized experiences on whatever touchpoint they engage with your brand. Challenge accepted. But here’s the kicker, they want this complemented by heightened privacy, tighter data controls and the right to have the information erased with the click of a button.

During the recent Cheetah Digital Signals21 event, Richard Jones, CMO of Cheetah Digital, Tim Glomb, VP Content, Cheetah Digital and Scott Cunningham, Founder, IAB Tech Lab dissect ways to break the personalisation and privacy paradox.

They discussed the timeline of disruption around these marketing roadblocks, how consumers and marketers are responding to these roadblocks, and how marketers can thrive from the death of cookies.

TImeline of Data Disruption

During the past three years, major technology companies have been announcing their removal of third-party cookie plans. Their decisions have been influenced heavily by the Facebook and Cambridge Analytica scandal which emerged in early 2018.

Since March 17 2018, when Chris Wiley blew the whistle on the Cambridge Analytica and Facebook scandal, governments have been investing in regulations. The European Union was the first to tighten the General Data Protection Regulations GDPR in May 2018. Less than two years later in January 2020, the state of California passed the California Consumer Privacy Act.

In January of 2020, Google announced plans to phase out support for third-party cookies within a year. Since then browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Apple’s Safari have announced they will be stepping away from cookies too.

However, the timelines changed in June 2021, when Google explained that third-party cookies will not be eradicated until 2023.

Richard Jones, CMO of Cheetah Digital explains, “They moved out the timeline for phasing out cookies, giving a new period of grace for advertisers and publishers that we’ll see in late 2022. With stage two, which is the phasing out of cookies, it will start in mid-2023, and then end in late 2023.”

A consumer’s perspective

In the past, consumers surrendered their data in exchange for convenience, however with all these changes coming in the next couple of years, the consumer has never been more aware of how they are being tracked online.

Richard says, “We can certainly see more consumer awareness around what marketing tactics are considered creepy versus cool.”

From the 2021 Consumer Trends Index Report, 73% of respondents said they were okay to receive recommendations from brands based on past purchases. The report showed 54% of consumers were also ok to receive an email reminder about an abandoned cart, however, 66% said they do not like adverts that follow them across devices.

Furthermore, 69% of respondents said adverts relating to something they talked about near a smart device is creepy, and 72% said they do not want advertisements from companies they don’t know based on their location data.

“There’s a big difference between targeting a golden audience segment with a silver bullet of an offer versus going through a consumer’s proverbial trash by analysing their browsing history,” Tim Glomb, VP Content at Cheetah Digital, explains.

A marketer’s perspective

Cheetah Digital recently engaged with Ad Age to release a report, An Optimal Path to Personalization, to understand how marketers are thinking when it comes to cookies.

In the report, only 13.4% of marketing professionals said they plan on continuing to use cookies and third-party data. 35.7% of respondents said they will greatly reduce reliance on cookies and third-party data, and the majority (50.9%) said they are investigating how to reduce their reliance on cookies.

Richard reveals how this research is not surprising, given marketers are still in a “fairly embryonic stage” of evaluating what the path forward is when it comes to a cookie-less future.

Consumers want more personalization and more privacy, this is the paradox marketers are grappling with right now.

Tim adds, “We can see marketers are primarily using segments or cohort-based personalization, versus true one-to-one personalization.

“As we get closer to the cliff edge of the deprecation of third-party cookies, we’re going to see marketers ramp up and hopefully get more people into using advanced personalization at a one-to-one level using known data.”

How to thrive from the death of the cookie

As brands and marketers start to address what they’re going to do in this cookie-less future, many are starting to build first-party relationships and incentivise direct engagement.

The IAB is promoting the idea of a consumer value exchange. In their recent IAB 2021 Outlook report, IAB questioned “Are we operating in a way that provides a clear value exchange to consumers, in the long term?”

Scott Cunningham, Founder, IAB Tech Lab explains when marketers are moving away from cookies aka third-party data they have to move somewhere, that somewhere is first-party data.

“When we think about first-party data, we think about who are the entities in the advertising and marketing supply chain that have first-party relationships; it is the brand marketers and publishers.”

“Everybody else in the middle of that is an intermediary, from the big agency holding companies to supply-side tech platforms to data management platforms. These are all intermediaries without a relationship to an end consumer.

“Those entities, brand marketers and publishers that have first-party relationships, over the next two years, need to be able to leverage any element of advertising transaction, whether it’s through programmatic channels, automated channels, private marketplaces, direct type deals,” Scott explains.

Car manufacturer Renault is also moving away from third party data. The company is looking at what consumer data they have internally and also exploring second-party data relationships.

Richard says, “Many other marketers, including the analysts, are promoting zero party data as a sensible strategy, given the need to balance privacy and personalization. This is data that a consumer willingly gives a brand in return for getting better, personalized products, content or services.”

While marketers can take advantage of free services and personalized discounts to get the best direct engagement. Richard explains, the best way for organizations to engage with customers directly without the need for cookies is through loyalty programs.

And as the cookie begins to “crumble” marketers need to reduce their reliance on third-party tracking and look towards the future of first-party data sources such as loyalty brands to ensure they can build a harmonious relationship between the brand and the consumer.

Richard says, “Loyalty programs that when done well govern the value exchange between brands and consumers, not just for a single interaction, but for direct engagement over the customer lifetime. With contextually differentiated, personalized experiences, they can be the conduit for the one-to-one relationships that build customer lifetime value.”

About Cheetah Digital

Cheetah Digital is a cross-channel customer engagement solution provider for the modern marketer. The Cheetah Digital Customer Engagement Suite enables marketers to create personalized experiences, cross-channel messaging, and loyalty strategies, underpinned by an engagement data platform that can scale to meet the changing demands of today’s consumer.

Many of the Australia’s leading brands trust Cheetah Digital to help them drive revenue, build lasting customer relationships through leading loyalty solutions and deliver a unique value exchange throughout the entire customer lifecycle

These include local brands such as Bakers Delight, Humm Group, ING and global retail brands Williams Sonoma, Vans and Ralph Lauren who have successfully made their digital transformation and reached unprecedented milestones

To learn more, visit or hear directly from our clients where they share their success stories by visiting our Signals On-demand hub at

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Billy Loizou, VP Go To Market APAC, Cheetah Digital
Billy Loizou is a creative-minded Business Leader, Technologist, Design Thinker, Marketer, Blogger, Speaker, and Writer. Billy Loizou had the luxury of consulting with some of Asia Pacifics leading brands.

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