Marketing and measurement are symbiotic – you can’t guide and inform a digital marketing strategy without knowing which elements have been successful. This is why Apple and Mozilla’s recent moves to block third-party cookies at a browser level have caused such as stir. These technology providers are upturning the whole ecosystem.
Mailjet conducted some research earlier this year and discovered that 93% of companies are still using cookie-based advertising to reach their desired audiences, giving a very tangible sense of how many businesses could be affected if online consumers don’t all opt-in to browser level permissions.
Facebook appears to have thrown marketers a lifeline though. Its new first-party cookie option for advertisers, publishers and developers offerss a means of capturing analytics data that will help businesses continue to understand site activity and advertising attribution across browsers.
However, anyone expecting a sudden uptake from advertisers and/or marketers might be disappointed.
Why you might expect Facebook to boom
While on their own, Apple and Mozilla’s moves might be enough of a horror for marketers to overcome, the real monster keeping them up at night is ePrivacy. Also known as the “cookie law”, it is forecast to play havoc with the advertising processes many brands have in place.
Mailjet’s research into the regulation highlighted that marketers anticipate the withdrawal of millions of consumer datasets from brand view and as much as a 40% drop in web traffic to brand sites.
While this will have long-term ramifications all over the world, the immediate response is that marketers expect they will invest more in direct communication channels such as social platforms (72%) and email (79%) to reach customers.
In fact, from a B2B perspective, the most popular lead generation methods will soon be through more personal routes such as Facebook lead ads and LinkedIn ads (71%). This surpasses events (59%) and content marketing (39%).
The surprising truth
All of the above paints a clear picture of opportunity for Facebook. However, since Facebook’s move to rebalance commercial and user content, brands have seen dwindling engagement with their posts on the platform. Recent research conducted in collaboration with Social Media Week London found that as many as 55% of marketers have noticed the trend affect their business.
Not only is organic reach falling, but advertising interactions are too. In the second quarter of this year, clicks on Facebook advertising fell by as much as 20%. Facebook is actively pushing consumers and marketers alike to adopt Stories, but this venture has proved fruitless so far with few users adopting the format and content loading slower than in the main Feed.
The declining efficacy of not just Facebook posts, but also the slow adoption of Stories on Facebook means that the insight brands might be able to get from first-party cookies on the platform accounts for a declining proportion of their desired audience segments.
The importance of owning the channel
Brands that are investing in Facebook should always remember that they do not own this channel, or the proximity with customers that the platform provides. They are still at the mercy of how the platform decides to distribute their content
Of course, playing by Facebook’s rules is not such a bad thing. Smart brands should be engaging with audiences in a considered, personalised way and Facebook still remains the major social channel with the most granular level of targeting.
At the same time, 100,000 followers on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn is clearly not nearly the same as 100,000 subscribers on your newsletter with an open rate of 30%. Just as social media sophistication has evolved, so has that of other channels such as email. For example, marketers and CRM managers can now collaborate in real-time on email templates, streamlining the process of creating highly personalised emails.
Ultimately, ePrivacy will redefine the limit of personalisation based on the available data sources and brands need to strike the right balance between personalised service, data privacy and transparency.
The competitive advantage brands need to build is how well they can tailor their offers to serve their customer’s individual needs at the right moment. It’s about stronger qualitative insights that feed into campaigns to drive new consumer interest. Savvy marketers will also explain clearly to customers why it’s for their own benefit for such information to be tracked in order to future-proof strategies from future, harsher regulation.