The Importance of First-Party Data in a Cookie-Less World
In 2023, Google Chrome, the top internet browser, intends to stop supporting third-party tracking cookies globally. This move follows Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox, which have already stopped allowing third-party tracking cookies. With Google Chrome and Apple Safari accounting for more than 80 percent of online website browsing (Statista, 2022), the move to remove third-party cookies will have a tremendous impact on both consumers and marketers.
What are cookies?
Cookies are files created by websites you visit. These files store pieces of data, like your username, password, and website preferences, and are used to identify your computer and provide a more personalized browsing experience. With cookies, websites can keep you signed in, remember your site preferences, and give you locally relevant content. There are two types of cookies: first-party and third-party cookies.
First-party cookies are files created and stored directly by the website you visit. These cookies enable the host website to remember important user information, such as what items you add to your shopping carts, your username, passwords, and language preferences.
Third-party cookies are files that are created and placed on your device by a website other than the one you are visiting. Once this cookie is placed on your device, it effectively “follows” your online browsing activity — across websites, apps, and more. This allows the company that placed the third-party cookie to gain insights into your interests, demographics, geographical location, and other useful information, which can then be leveraged to serve you highly personalized and targeted ads.
Why are third-party cookies going away?
Consumers and privacy advocates alike have grown increasingly concerned about the ways that some companies are using third-party cookies for user tracking — without explicit consent to do so. Consumers not only want transparency over how their data is used, but they want ownership over it. As such, privacy laws are increasing, and companies are forced to follow suit.
According to Justin Schuh, the Director of Chrome Engineering at Google, “users are demanding greater privacy — including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used — and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.”
What does this mean for marketers?
Industry research suggests that fewer than half of marketers (46%) feel “very prepared” for the end of third-party cookies (Epsilon, 2021). Moreover, 69% of marketers think the impact of third-cookie depreciation will be bigger than the GDPR or CCPA (Epsilon, 2021).
Marketers will need to find new ways to reach and understand their target audiences. One of the ways that marketers can do this is by shifting to a first-party data strategy. First-party data also referred to as 1P Data, refers to any information collected directly from a brand’s consumers. Unlike third-party data that is owned by a third party and isn’t verified by the consumer, first-party data is sourced directly from a brand’s consumers and is collected and owned by the brand.
Some first-party sources are observed and inferred consumer behavior. There is a new type of first-party data, however, called zero-party data, that is direct and explicitly given by consumers. This type of data has been critical in gaining brand trust.
How can marketers gather first-party data?
First-party data can be collected in many ways — as long as it is collected directly from the source — the customer. Brands use a variety of methods to collect first-party data, including, but not limited to desktop websites, mobile websites, email lists, mobile applications, text messages, social media activity, downloads, search engine analytics, and surveys.
At ASICS Digital, we’ve partnered with Jebbit to launch a quiz commerce strategy, which has helped us engage our customers in new and innovative ways, while also strengthening the first party (and more specifically here, zero-party data) we have available to our customers.
Jebbit is a platform that launches digital experiences to ask customers directly about their interests, motivations, and preferences (Jebbit, 2022). These digital experiences, or quizzes, are designed to be engaging and fun and have a value add for the customer — ranging from a discount, a gift, or simply more specific personalization based on the responses provided. Since the responses to these quizzes are self-reported by the individual, they are classified as first-party data. This is a win-win for both ASICS and the consumer — since the data is self-reported directly from the user, we know it is reliable and helps us understand our customers better. In terms of the customer, they can expect more tailored communications based on their responses, and fewer communications about topics or products they identified as not being of interest to them.
Our partnership with Jebbit has been very successful so far, as we have seen great engagement rates across many of the experiences we have launched, all while obtaining crucial and informative data points on our customers via their own declarations. In Australia, we recently leveraged Jebbit for a sweepstakes-style quiz, which saw some of our highest engagement rates across all experiences we have launched to date, with an impressive 76% engagement rate*.
We have also launched a Preference Center experience designed for Europe, where customers report their interests across different sports, which is designed to be evergreen and give consumers the opportunity to update their responses as their interests potentially change and evolve. We will be testing this experience across a variety of different channels to gauge engagement.
How does this impact ASICS?
Jebbit has enabled ASICS to collect the first-party data that is needed to provide our audience with personalized experiences at scale. In speaking on the benefits of the ASICS/Jebbit partnership, Jennifer Hoth, our Director of Global Loyalty Marketing & CRM, stated, “Our Jebbit experiences provide customers a more valuable brand experience at each stage of their journey while capturing their interests and preferences so ASICS can build trusted direct relationships.”
In conclusion, as we begin to shift to a cookie-less world and the focus shifts to gathering first-party data, ASICS has pivoted to ensure there is no gap in both our ability to understand and effectively market to our existing and future customers.
*Engagement rate, as defined by Jebbit, is the number of user sessions in which a user progresses past the first screen in the experience.
Abby Katz, Loyalty Marketing Strategist, ASICS Digital
Jenna Furey, Project Manager, Loyalty & Membership, ASICS Digital