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By Carolyn Corda, CMO and COO at ADARA

Over the past year and a half, two stories have dominated the minds and work of financial marketers: the COVID-19 pandemic and the death of the third party cookie.

While the pandemic has forever changed consumer habits, Google’s decision to phase out the use of third party cookies on Chrome will mean that it will be harder for marketers to track and understand these changes.

Pre-pandemic, financial marketers often used data to reach out to customers in important moments of change in their life: as they buy a new house, have kids, write their will, retire or make any other decision that might spark an interest in changing banks. In a post-COVID and post-cookie world, however, these moments will be harder to identify. Marketers won’t be able to rely on pre-pandemic behaviours to predict lifestyle changes today, and are soon to lose the ability to use third party cookies to track people across the web in order to understand when they’re likely to make a life changing decision.

Google’s recent announcement to delay the death of the third party cookie by two years to 2023 may come as a relief to many. However, it doesn’t mean that financial marketers should be complacent. The writing has been on the wall for third party cookies, with competitors to Google like Apple and Firefox already phasing out their use on their platforms. The decision by Google to delay has, therefore, given marketers the opportunity and the time to test new technologies that ultimately do not rely on third party behavioural tracking.

With Apple also tightening the parameters for how data is shared, by changing its tracking on iPhones to ask people to opt-in to data sharing, and the EU and the US providing greater scrutiny on data privacy, it has never been more important for marketers to find secure solutions to digital marketing.

Sharing first party data

The first step that any financial marketer should take in filling the gap in knowledge and insights from third party cookies should be utilising the information that they already have. Financial institutions currently sit upon a wealth of first party data such as buying propensity, online activity, and digital channel affinity, which could be used to greater effect.

However, while utilising your own first party data is incredibly useful, it does have its limitations. For example, first party data can’t show how someone interacts with another brand. While this might seem minor, it has a huge impact on a brand’s ability to accurately send personalised messages to customers.

Take, for example, a credit card company that knows it has a customer on an airline rewards programme. If it also knows how that person interacts with hotels, spas, restaurants, concert venues – they can get a true idea of what motivates them to travel and which offers or messages might appeal. For example, a person who loves to splash out on a spa day when they travel may well be a good recipient for a push around wellness-based rewards. This is one small point around how a wider understanding of someone can enable both brand and customer to get the most out of the relationship.

Walled Gardens

In order to strengthen their data repositories, financial marketers might turn to Facebook and Google. Both giants have an array of data that can help financial institutions reach the right audience with the right message.

However, there are yet again limitations. Namely, each platform only enables brands to reach those audiences within that platform. In other words, you can’t use data from Facebook in other external processes. This limits a financial marketer’s ability to tailor digital marketing campaigns beyond those platforms – across owned channels, the open web and more.

Adopting a privacy centric approach

While walled gardens like Facebook and Google can help plug in the gap from the third party cookie, there are other alternatives that marketers should consider. Namely, they can look to data partnerships to provide them with a rich supply of first party data from a wide cohort of brands. These partnerships, however, need to be privacy centric following the increased pressure from the public and politicians.

First party data shared with an external brand needs to be tokenised, so that personal identifiers (name,age, location) aren’t given to outside parties and that partner brands are able to access the necessary insights into customers. At Adara, we are able to leverage these insights, layering them on top of each other from multiple brands to create a fully anonymous and secure individual graph to enable relevant and personalised customer engagement, as well as understanding of what customers need and want from their financial institutions of choice. This means that financial marketers have access to insights they know to be accurate, and predictive – so they can make informed decisions both about what a customer wants today and what they may well require in future.

The added benefit of anonymous and secure identity graphs is confidence. In other words, marketers can feel secure in knowing that they understand what customers want, and what they’re comfortable doing post COVID. Furthermore, they feel confident knowing that they are using privacy centric techniques that are safe to use and unexploitable by other parties.

Overcoming the pandemic and the death of the third party cookie is critical for the future success of any financial brand. While old tracking technologies may still exist for the time being, they are on the way out and marketers need to prepare for the post third party cookie landscape now. If they don’t they will find that they are unable to properly track and engage with their customers.


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