Brands build first-party data at last as cookies crumble

digital1Brand owners are joining the stampede to gather first-party data, with nearly nine out of ten (88%) marketers identifying the collection and storage of their own customer information as a high priority over the coming year.

So says Merkle’s 2021 Customer Engagement Report, which quizzed 800 marketing, analytics, and technology executives from the UK and US, who are responding to the phasing out of third-party cookies as users demand more transparency.

With the likes of Apple and Google claiming they are phasing out cookies, first-party data which is “intentionally and proactively” shared by consumers with a company is now seen as the lifeblood of online marketing.

Nearly three-quarters (74%) of survey respondents also confirmed they are increasing investment in technology and vendor solutions, with more than half (52%) citing increased data protection regulation as a key factor.

The Covid-19 pandemic is also forcing a rethink over the way consumers interact with brands, “pushing more activity online”.

Merkle CEO Craig Dempster said: “The demise of the third-party cookie is driving marketers to rethink media, data, and identity. This moment is forcing marketers to change, and while it initially burdens us with challenges, it also presents an opportunity for radical transformation.

“The companies that move quickly and smartly may find themselves in a new position that’s more favourable to their customers and way ahead of their competitors.”

Merkle’s study is in sharp contrast to a report by the World Federation of Advertisers, published last summer. It found that while marketers were talking a good game over adopting first-party data, with nearly 8 out of 10 advertisers saying their own customer information is business critical, only 2 out of 10 were actually embracing such a strategy.

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