It’s safe to say that the cookie has revolutionized digital marketing. This tiny snippet of stored browser code has been invaluable in enabling businesses to personalize and target their content to the right audience. Its prominent use has also resulted in increased awareness of consumer data privacy and, subsequently, the rise of e-privacy policies. With cookies now facing an uncertain future, marketers must explore other options to survive and thrive in this era of e-privacy.

Understand The Importance Of E-Privacy Regulations

Directives and laws around e-privacy have been in place for some time and have recently gained more momentum. The EU’s E-privacy Directive took effect in 2002 and is designed to protect the privacy of personal data for residents of the European Union. It now works in conjunction with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and specifically targets electronic communications data. Although this regulation is exclusive to the EU, many marketers are aware that other regions have already started to develop their own. In the US, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) has been in place since 2018. That law also restricts data usage but with some fundamental differences in consent and cookie disclosure. Other states launching similar acts include Colorado, Connecticut, Utah, and Virginia.

Marketers who want to stay compliant with these regulations must educate themselves and understand the intricacies of the laws. Failure to comply may result in financial and reputational risk to the entire organization.

Position Your Organization For Success

Marketers still have quite a bit of control over their campaigns and can take several steps to ensure compliance while still achieving performance goals. The following action items can help you prepare for the coming change:

  1. Use first-party data. With restrictions on third-party cookies, marketers must look for alternative data sources to help them target and personalize offers. First-party data is the data collected directly from a user who interacts with your brand, whether their activity is on the website or social media. It’s a tremendous asset for marketers to create a more accurate representation of their target audience. Using first-party data along with contextual targeting and location tracking can still allow you to personalize and target your content to the appropriate audience according to their demographics, behavior, interests, and location.
  2. Seek privacy-compliant channels. Embrace new tools and technologies that are privacy-compliant and align with e-privacy regulations. Be prepared to explore alternative tracking methods and new content delivery channels, such as podcasts, webinars, and videos, to reach your target audience.
  3. Focus on creating quality content. Without a cookie, you can’t rely on previous browsing history to tailor your message to your audience. You must create high-quality content that offers value to your target audience. Invest in content that is compelling, informative, engaging, and tailored to the demographics, interests, and pain points of your audience. Encourage feedback and engagement from your audience to help you refine and improve your content.
  4. Use a consent management platform. Marketers must be clear and transparent with their audiences about their use of data and allow users to manage their preferences easily. A consent management platform (CMP) simplifies this process and will help ensure that your data collection practices are compliant with the latest laws while empowering users to decide what data they want to share. A CMP also can provide you with valuable insights into user preferences and behaviors to help optimize your marketing strategies.

The Sky Really Isn’t Falling

The shift away from cookies and toward privacy-enhancing marketing may seem like the end of digital marketing, but that’s not quite the case. By capturing more first-party data, exploring new delivery channels, and potentially implementing new technologies, marketers can still thrive in the new era of e-privacy.

Take the time to understand the evolving e-privacy laws, anticipate the necessary changes, and build a strong foundation in personalizing your content to your target audience. These adaptations should put you that much further ahead of your competitors and ensure that you are positioned to succeed.

For a deeper dive into this topic, please join me at Forrester’s B2B Summit North America from June 5–7, where I will host a session on best practices and on how leading companies are working their way through this evolving disruption in the industry.