Case Study: How CPGs are preparing for the demise of third-party cookies

The third-party cookie is in the autumn of its years, a tumultuous development in the marketing industry that has used the software as a bedrock of its user targeting and tracking efforts since the inception of online advertising in the 1990s.

The process is relegating third-party data to that of a prohibited substance while elevating first-party data — or “zero-party data” — beyond the status of “valued” and closer to the threshold of “cherished” as customer privacy is increasingly top-of-mind for marketers.

First-party data scarcity

The demise of third-party cookies is also an occurrence that (theoretically) means publishers are in a good position and brands in an even better one; it’s the third-party ad tech intermediaries that are on notice.

But in their candid moments, executives at such entities across the board say they’re concerned over the scarcity of first-party data within their ranks and are trying to bulk up their relationships to prolong effective customer communications long after third-party cookies have crumbled.

Marketing departments at CPGs — a business vertical that has historically been disintermediated through their reliance on retail partners for consumer access — have been making significant strides in this regard since the sunsetting of traditional identifiers became clear in 2020.

Speaking recently at Digiday’s Programmatic Marketing Summit hosted in Palm Springs, California, Marykate Byrnes, director of media and growth at La Colombe Coffee Roasters, shared the insights from her efforts to future-proof the company’s marketing strategy.

In conversation with Tim Peterson, senior media editor, Digiday, Byrnes shared that brands are prepared to pay higher CPMs, as long as they can measure results consistently, that her team was building a “customized approach” to avoid seeming creepy to consumers, and it’s best to be open with partners to better vet data sources.

Through-the-line consistency

“Our overall strategy has shifted to focus on channels that are going to be able to provide consistent reporting across all of our metrics from top to the bottom of the funnel,” said Bynes, adding that she expects to see a rise in the cost of ad inventory this year.

She further detailed this involves ensuring retail partners pass back sales data on a timely basis, plus ensuring that “CRM lists are getting scrubbed” in a matter whereby her team can demonstrate how the brand’s ad spend is contributing to “bottom-line business goals.”

She went on to explain, “We are working to unify our point-of-sale systems, in cafes and on the online platform that’s gonna open up a lot more. We’re just starting data on trends that are really gonna apply across campaigns which is fantastic as it’ll also help inform our promotion strategies and products.”

Be ‘customized’ not ‘creepy’

La Colombe’s media team also intends to invest in customer acquisition efforts on email and SMS as those channels have a higher propensity to generate conversions, plus customers that do regularly demonstrate higher purchase orders, noted Byrnes.

She explained how her team intends to construct a cohesive plan using a single framework and assess how it is delivering against its earlier projections on a monthly basis for the remainder of 2022. “We want to make sure we’re giving everything enough time to gather data to make sure it’s useful,” added Byrnes.

This involves working with its agency BIG to develop “custom cohorts” of audiences using its CRM data in a manner where they can “follow users in a way that is less creepy” to ensure their ad campaigns are delivering on “ a real bottom line, and not just media metrics,” according to Byrnes.

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