A Cookie-less Future? The New Future of Digital Marketing

Consumer privacy has been a hot-button topic for the past few years. While Safari and Firefox have long blocked third-party cookies to protect their users’ privacy by default (though users can turn them on), Apple recently reignited the conversation with their new iOS 14.5 update that allows users to approve which apps can track their activities. And now Google Chrome is set to join the ranks once they stop supporting third-party cookies starting in 2022. However, unlike Safari and Firefox, they will not offer an option for users to turn on cookies.

Homebuilder marketers are wondering what Google’s decision to end support of third-party cookies means for their digital marketing efforts. Before you start panicking, here’s everything you need to know.

Cookies: first-party vs third-party

Not all cookies are the same. There are two main types: first-party and third-party cookies. Let’s break down the difference.

First-party cookie: first-party cookies are created by the website a user is visiting. These cookies allow the website owner or company to collect analytics data, remember user settings – including passwords, and perform other functions that provide a good user experience. These types of cookies are only accessible on that specific website.

Third-party cookie: third-party cookies are created by a separate company, typically an Adtech company, and placed on a website by a line of code, script, or tag. These cookies are most often used for online advertising. Unlike first-party cookies, third-party cookies can be accessed by any website that runs the third-party’s code.

Third-party cookies are why you see ads for items you were looking at in an online shop or why you get emails encouraging you to complete a purchase or sharing recommendations for other items you may be interested in.

How will digital marketing change?

If your digital marketing strategy was dependent on third-party data for targeting, you’ll probably worried about what’s next. Thankfully some marketing tactics are remaining the same while new options are emerging.

Advertisers are returning to older strategies that target based on keywords. Google Ads is still an effective option for home builder marketers, along with contextual advertising. Contextual advertising is advertising on a website that is relevant to the page’s content. This type of targeted advertising uses keywords and other metadata (this is why SEO remains important) to decide which ads to serve.

Google may be ending its use of third-party data but it will invest in other tracking alternatives. One such option includes its “Privacy Sandbox.” Still early in development, Google hopes to create technology that could allow marketers to serve relevant ads while still protecting user privacy.

In addition to the Privacy Sandbox, Google has pivoted to FloC, a new technology that tracks people as groups instead of at an individual level. This allows individuals to hide in a group of people with similar interests while keeping that person’s web history private.

Advertisers are actively looking for solutions and developing new tools to adjust to the new normal. To be honest, third-party cookies lost some effectiveness once Safari and Firefox implemented adblocking.

What home builder marketers should do next

Just because the industry is turning away from third-party cookies is no reason to panic. Right now, the best thing to do is stay updated about data privacy news that could impact your business. Begin looking for alternative software and tools that can help you transition away from third-party cookies and also look inwards.

Innovative home builder marketers should be leveraging the power of first-party data and cookies. Dive deep into your own analytics, investigating user behavior on your website, and identify touchpoints that allow you to influence buyers by providing them the information they’re looking for.

With a strong content marketing strategy and using available technology and tools to your benefit, there’s no need to be all doom and gloom about the “cookieless future.”

Need help with your digital marketing strategy? With over 25 years of experience working exclusively with home builders, we know what works. Connect with us to see how we can help fine-tune your digital marketing strategy.