The best thing happening to marketing: Simple targeting will die

The death of cookie and app-id targeting might be the best happening to marketing in years

I will shove this ad down your throat because we have a cookie that tells us you searched something roughly related 30 days ago. And I will do it again. And again. And again.

Apple killing tracking for Facebook apps is only the last iteration of what some call “The war over privacy.” As a hardware company with a locked-in ecosystem, Apple has completely different goals, incentives, and ways to understand customers compared to web-based services and platforms. They heavily depend on user actions and behavior tracked through cookies on websites and in-app, which is now on the edge of extermination.

While privacy discussions are as old as the commercial internet, the last few years saw a different dynamic. There was GDPR in Europe, CCPA in California, and different approaches from other legislatures from a legal perspective.

But, these are not the topic of this post.

When we look at it from the tech side, the main irritation began with Apple’s ITP or Intelligent Tracking Prevention introduced in Webkit in 2017.

Those who say: “Who would have expected that!”: You had it coming. For four years!

After the roll-out of ITP and other browsers catching up, this should have been a time of reflection for the marketing and targeting industry.

We should have tried to build something that will honor users’ wishes for more privacy while giving us opportunities to achieve our KPIs. Still, instead, we created hacks on all sides, first local storage, then PHP redirects and domain hacks, to keep the information somehow alive. We relied on a concept that has been used since 1995 – this is how old cookie technology is. Sometimes you wonder if people who fight to give cookies an extended zombie lifetime still use their phone or computers from the mid-nineties.

Right now, history is repeating itself: Bending Google’s FloC while trying to maintain supposedly information.

And now, the next eruption! Apple allows users to see and actually prevent apps from tracking their most personal data. Our smartphone is our life. Whoever has access to it knows everything, from emails to text messages, photos, videos, health data, financial data. Unheard that users want some of it kept private. With iOS15, we will see extended privacy features like iCloud+, and the same discussions will start all over again.

And it is not only Apple. Firefox has privacy built-in, Enhanced Tracking Protection, burner email addresses like Apple offers called Firefox Relay. New browsers like Brave or search engines like DuckDuckGo are built around the promise of data protection and individual privacy.

This privacy move from large organizations puts Google between a rock and a hard place. Google lives from advertising dollars and is naturally hesitant to kill its own revenue stream. Hence, Google has an advantage: It lives deep in our daily digital life, Google Chrome, Gmail, Drive, and of course Android, tracking everything on a whole different level.
Not with the same publicity as Apple, more clandestine, Google updated its Android developer pages. End of 2021, it will be possible for Android users to opt-out of Google’s advertising ID.

Starting in late 2021, when a user opts out of interest-based advertising or ads personalization, the advertising identifier will not be available. You will receive a string of zeros in place of the identifier.

You probably get customer-centricity wrong

Customer-centricity is a key (buzz)word for organizations these days. From Deloitte, to The Economist, heck even we preach the importance of customer-centricity.
Customer-Centricity does not mean:

I will shove this ad down your throat because we have a cookie that tells us you searched something roughly related 30 days ago. And I will do it again. And again. And again.

This is not customer-centricity. This is annoying and still a daily business.

If you think about the customer journey, this individual user might have searched for someone else, or already bought the item from your competitor, or even decided against buying. Still, the cookie tells you to bombard him with ads.

We believe this technology has a very limited future, and for a good reason. If you want to reach customers, develop a relationship with them, and in the end help them solve problems, you do not want that relationship to be based on a small text file stored on their computers, as a superstitious representation of their wants, needs and pain points. Besides privacy issues, many companies learned that the hard way during Covid, when the interests and needs of their customers changed within days.

What you want is to understand their emotions, their drivers, and what message is appropriate for the situation they are in.

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