Forget your momma’s cookies.

What is better than your momma’s cookies?

Mother’s day was yesterday and while I’m not here to debate whose mother makes the best cookies, I want to focus on a trend that is making cookies less relevant. This isn’t your momma’s era of internet marketing anymore. For the last 20 years, advertisers relied on cookies to deliver personalized, relevant content, but the cookie era is ending and marketers need to jump on board with custom audience targeting. That’s right, it’s time to forget your momma’s cookies and start using Look-alike modeling to improve your customers experience and drive better marketing efficiencies.

What is Look-alike Modeling?

  • Lookalikes are an audience modeled from your customers and converters to gain reach and efficiency.

Cookies are losing their value as ad targeting vehicles, in particular when compared to custom audiences. Not only are cookies often deleted, synchronization of cookies across devices requires a permanent common login.

Custom audience targeting sidesteps the weaknesses of cookie-based targeting, using a hashed email address as the universal targeting identifier. This email address is one’s “passport” to the service environments provided by Google, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yahoo, and Microsoft, among others.

The cookie has been around for a long time (21 years). For the last few years there was no usable replacement for it, but today there is.

Who is ditching their momma’s cookies?

This has been happening for a few years now. In 2012, Facebook established the concept of custom audiences. Advertisers looking to use Custom Audiences on Facebook simply upload lists to the service (for example, customer/subscriber email addresses, phone numbers, app user ID numbers, or Facebook IDs), target this group, or even use the data to target “Lookalike” audiences. Those “lookalike” audiences can be built from users on Facebook, website visitors, or mobile app users. In some cases, using “lookalike” audiences led to a three times improvement in conversions against ordinary Facebook targeting.

Last year, Twitter released a product similar to Facebook’s called “Tailored Audiences” that included a “Lookalike Targeting” feature. In April of 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported that Google may soon launch a similar service. Online advertising is undergoing revitalization in terms of accuracy, effectiveness, and ROI.

Breaking cookie dependence in 5 steps:

Custom audience targeting will be the standard in the future and marketers need to start preparing today, or they will get left behind. This trend will give the phrase “getting your hand caught in the cookie jar” a completely different meaning.

1) Blend the offline and online worlds. Marketers with a physical presence can use POS offers to increase email signups. Incentives should be promoted that can secure the necessary opt-ins.

2) Earn the right to collect email addresses. First, your customers have to see the forms. Email subscription forms are often buried in footer areas or other rarely-viewed areas. Make your email signup form large, legible, and most importantly give users a reason to sign-up, using incentives such as access to gated content areas, or as mentioned above, promotions!

3) Ramp up the mid-funnel content on your website. Content is key to moving your prospects from awareness to conversion. (here is my previous article about the sales funnel). This content becomes more critically important in the age of custom audiences, because prospects expect something of value in return for disclosing their (increasingly valuable) email addresses.

One way that organizations are doing this is by adding social feeds that connect products to social conversations that promote or recommend that specific product. This is a great way to let your brand advocates sell on your behalf. Your customers have one online identity and it is the brands responsibility to connect that singular profile with the various channels they’re communicating on.

4) Push email signups across your offline marketing. QR codes on print collateral can point users toward a signup form. Use a special offer only available through email signup. Provide incentives at trade shows for people to sign up. Create a custom URL for your video and radio spots that includes a signup form. Use every tool in your marketing arsenal to get opt-ins.

  • The key point here is that it is very important to connect offline purchases with online behavior.
  • Datalogix connects offline purchasing data to digital media to improve audience targeting and measure sales impact. Datalogix aggregates and provides insights on over $2 trillion in consumer spending to deliver purchase-based targeting and drive more sales. Over 650 customers including the top US advertisers and digital media publishers use Datalogix to increase the effectiveness and measurability of their advertising.

5) Leverage custom audience targeting today. Getting experience with custom audience targeting now will give you an advantage as this new targeting methodology grows in importance. Set aside some budget to begin accumulating intelligence and a set of best practices.

Don’t get your hands caught in the jar.

Custom audience targeting is changing the game. While cookie-based targeting will be with us for the next couple of years, the cookie era is ending, and marketers need to adapt. It time to admit that cookies just aren’t what they used to be…sorry mom.

  • If you want to learn more about transforming your data into actionable audiences while gaining the ability to activate it across paid media, you should check this out: (click here)
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