Ensuring personalised services remain while third-party cookies turn to crumbs
Tracking website visitors has long been a strategy for organisations to understand their browsing habits and devise how best to personalise their services with tailored advertising says Andy McNab, VP EMEA, Fanplayr.
Cookies have however been under the spotlight in recent years for all the wrong reasons, with 85% of telco subscribers concerned about the potential for their privacy to be invaded by intrusive adverts linked to internet activity. Given the increasing popularity of mobile browsing, telcos are playing a leading role in the delivery of these services.
With privacy concerns growing, telcos are under increased pressure to consider how they monetise their offerings, and change is in full swing. Apple and Firefox, two of the biggest browsing operators, have acted to effectively ban third-party cookies, with Google following suit in 2022. As cookies start to crumble, what does this mean for telcos and the opportunities for personalisation?
The end of third-party cookies
The move away from cookies is a significant move, prompted by privacy concerns in the wake of the EU’s GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) and the CCPA (California Consumer Privacy Act) in California. The end of third-party cookies means that telcos and their partners will be looking for other ways to optimise web visitor interactions, while the use of first-party cookies for organisations’ own domains will still be possible.
The fear behind the banning of third-party cookies however is that consumer behaviour will be shrouded in mystery. Telcos and the partners they work with must think smartly about new solutions that maximise the value of website-visit data.
Analysis by Google of the 500 largest Google Ad Manager publishers globally over three months found that where no cookie was present, revenues plummeted by an average of 52% compared to traffic with cookies. Although we know Google plans to end the use of third-party cookies in 2022, information has been few and far between, and some telcos may be questioning whether it will actually take place on schedule. This has been made more complicated by each browser operator having its own interpretation of how to deal with third-party cookies and privacy.
Where cookies have been found to compromise user privacy, most browser companies are restricting storage access. Safari’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention however uses multiple methods to restrict storage access for third parties algorithmically classified as having cross-site tracking capabilities.
Despite the varying approaches, the aspect that remains the same is that third-party cookies will be no more, and keywords and SEO-optimised content will be the main tactics as web-wide behaviour-tracking becomes much harder and first-party cookies take on the responsibility for tracking. For telcos that need to balance quality-of-service with ensuring user privacy, a more innovative approach to behaviour analysis, segmentation and personalisation is needed.
Leveraging data for AI-powered personalisation
Driven by AI, emerging technologies are capable of leveraging consumer data from website visits, providing a far more sophisticated and profitable way of interacting with consumers. By storing only the unique ID of the user in a first-party cookie, each visit can be logged without using any other information. This data allows telcos to understand a consumer’s behaviour and interact with them based on their activity.
AI means that relevant and unobtrusive advertisements can be shown on webpages at the right moment for the consumer, and avoids the crude tactics of experience-affecting pop-ups with offers or recommendations that fail to match the interests of the user. If a single platform is adopted, organisations can use the data and analysis to personalise marketing content in SMS messages and emails sent to consenting consumers, which delivers far better results through precise targeting.
The benefits of a single platform
Adopting a single platform approach is an efficient and easy-to-implement method that avoids the need for different solutions to be brought together for different stages of the customer journey.
In a post-cookie world, the focus will be on harnessing first-party cookie data from consumer website visits, and telcos need to ensure that the service users receive across laptops, smartphones and tablets remains of a high quality, without personalisation ruining the experience and compromising on privacy.
By having real-time understanding of the data being processed thanks to AI technology, telcos can also ensure compliance with data protection legislation such as the GDPR, enabling them to take confident strides when third-party cookies become a thing of the past.
The author is Andy McNab, VP EMEA, Fanplayr