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Tips & Ideas for Audience Targeting in a Cookie-less Digital Environment

By Gabe Akguc

Data Modeling & Digital Expert

Earlier this year, Google announced that they are going to be phasing out third-party cookies in Chrome over the next 24 months. While not a surprising move considering how Safari and Firefox have popularized the “Do Not Track” features on their respective browsers, it does not bode well for the future of platforms and marketing plans that rely heavily on third-party targeting.

For marketers, there is a clear path forward for weaning ourselves off the third-party cookies we have been reliant on for so long. It starts with clean data and ends with digital platforms where direct targeting and first-party identification is prevalent – like email and social media platforms.

Here are some tips for preparation and thriving in a cookie-less digital world.

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Update Your Housefile

Onboarding your customer list to individual platforms for first-party targeting is going to be a process every digital marketer will need to understand. The success of an onboarding effort is directly correlated to how clean and updated your housefile data is. In other words, the devil is in the detail so make sure the details are accurate.

Running your housefile through a simple hygiene pass can seriously boost match rates when you onboard to Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google, etc. How? Email and mailing addresses are the industry norm for matching uploaded customer lists to any digital platform. If you have wrong or outdated mailing addresses on file your match rates can suffer.

Running data through NCOA (National Change of Address) to identify any address changes is a simple solution to keeping your mailing address info up to date so your match rates stay strong.

De-duplicate Records within Your Housefile

Additionally, it is important to de-duplicate the records you have on file to improve your housefile’s overall health. This can be accomplished by running a Merge/Purge. The process is simple, can be done in a timely manner, and eliminate wasted impressions and media dollars.

Fill in the Holes Your Housefile May Have

Once you have a clean database, it’s time to fill in what is missing through a data append. Finding missing email addresses, missing mailing addresses, or even additional email addresses can all greatly benefit any direct or digital effort, especially in the case of audience onboarding. Data Appends can track down any of these elements and help complete your housefile.

Use Your Housefile to Build a Prospect List

A Customer Data Model leverages your past customers to identify new prospects to go after. If you already rely on a Model for acquisition, make sure you are updating regularly to account for changes in more recent behavior. The world is in a state of change, and that can be seen in how consumers are spending.

These modeled audiences are even worth building if you currently leverage Facebook’s Lookalike Audiences. After a period of time, we found that client Facebook Lookalike audiences can experience fatigue and be highly competitive, especially around retail seasons, holidays, and special events like the upcoming election.

Onboard Your Lists Directly to Platforms for First-Party Targeting

Armed with a nice and clean housefile, and a custom-built model audience for acquisition, identify which digital platforms that use first-party targeting are best for reaching your customers and prospects. There are many out there, but here are some general rules for narrowing them down:

  • Do the demographics of your housefile match the demographics of the users actively on that platform? If your customers tend to skew older, Snapchat is not a great option.
  • What platform is your data best suited for? If you have a lot of business email addresses, maybe LinkedIn could provide a unique and fruitful option.
  • Are you allowed to onboard only housefile lists, or can you onboard acquisition lists as well? For example, Google has a strict housefile-only policy.

Put More Stock into Email Marketing

With more people working from home, email open rates for acquisition campaigns are improving (especially on days and times where email has not performed in the past). Email can be nimble and flexible enough to urge individuals to act in short windows or remind them to purchase during longer purchase cycles.

Jump on Social and Search Trends

The speed of email and social allows you to jump on unplanned, spontaneous trends and social media holidays. For the best results, target a known audience (like current customers) and tie in your brand in an organic way.

Leveraging search trend information can re-position your brand and take advantage of products/categories that are in demand. We use Google Trends to get this sort of insight. There may be a massive opportunity that your business can jump on quickly. Check out this link for inspiration: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/category-trends/us/week/en


Published on Jul. 21, 2020