The end of cookies, the old-fashioned, unhealthy “food” for digital marketing, is coming, and it’s bittersweet. Cookies have a bad reputation for taking information without asking, and as people are getting savvier about privacy, they are demanding a detox.

We all want our privacy, and browsers and operating systems are listening. Google plans to completely phase out its 3rd party cookies by January 1, 2022.  As advertisers approach C-Day, they are desperately looking for alternatives to the cookie and ways to get the data they need to continue effective marketing to their database.

The old method of the cookie provides reliable consumer insights while most others don’t, so how do you make the tradeoff for privacy over data? As advertisers are forced to find alternative methods of measurement, they struggle as to where to go from here.

Good news! Many consumers are happy to share their data as long as their privacy is respected. They believe that their opinions and interests matter, and therefore, they want to provide their feedback. However, they don’t want to share their data with companies they don’t know. So, the answer to getting data from consumers is to garner ethical identity data.

So what exactly is ethical identity data? It is data gathered from first-party single-source research that puts the consumer at the center and asks them for firsthand feedback. This is typically done through surveys or by transparently recruiting people to join a research community panel. Many companies reward their participants with something worth their time. This method builds relationships between the company and its consumer base.

Getting permission from your consumers to collect their data is good for business as it builds trust and gathers more accurate data. It only makes sense that people would rather openly share their opinions and experiences rather than the invasive practice of following them all over the Internet via their Google searches.

What about Google? Are they going to just create something equally as lucrative and invasive as the cookie? In a recent blog post, Google explicitly stated that “once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.” Because of the recent privacy fear, they want to keep their user base. So, they are making privacy a priority.

Google is rolling out something called the “privacy sandbox” in which it groups large amounts of people together based on their interests without giving advertisers access to their personal identifiable information. Much like a concert with a large crowd of people, websites and advertisers can only know that thousands of people have similar interests or enjoy the same kind of music.

Ultimately, marketers have a few options:

  • Create workarounds to replicate the cookie with less accurate data.
  • Gather firsthand information from their consumer base by getting permission before measuring advertising impact.
  • Or both of the above. While the workaround and Google’s data won’t be as accurate, they will give their consumer base more privacy. If you add first-party metrics to that, you have the best of both worlds.