Marketers are coming to terms with the fact that they can’t have their cookies and eat them too. 

With Big Tech maneuvering to escape the crosshairs of regulators, lawmakers, and privacy advocates alike, tracking cookies have emerged as key collateral damage

Good riddance. 

In the absence of more effective, cost-efficient alternatives, cookies rose to prominence in the mid-aughts with a collective industry shoulder shrug. Why try to standardize on a better approach if cookies were cheap and good enough? 

Well, with the rug suddenly being pulled out from beneath stakeholders, the fallout from years of merely making marginal improvements on a “good enough” system is becoming clearer than ever. 

After decades of reliable, postal-based data collection, going all-in on cookies has resulted in marketers losing a generation of quality identity matches. In reality, cookies represented nothing more than a dizzying number of zombie-like, digital representations of who a consumer might be. There could be dozens of these for just one actual human. Hardly the foundation for smart, transparent, and relevant targeting.

Plus, using this low-quality data has required dealing with multiple identity vendors and a heavy lift trying to manage the opt-out preferences of all those various personas everywhere data about them has been stored. 

It’s no wonder 21 cents of every media dollar spent by marketers is wasted due to poor quality. 

Transparency for the win

As the Chicken Littles run around decrying the end of cookies, a better system built on improved consumer transparency and actual humans looks poised to finally have its day. 

Consumers understand that their data will be collected. And a growing number are happy to offer it in exchange for cool services, free content, and more relevant advertising. But what’s becoming more important to them is having a better understanding of who has their data and how it’s being used. 

It’s on these fronts that first-party, personally identifiable information (PII) is demonstrating its strength as a superior successor to the stale cookie. Especially as advancements in encryption and cyber-security processes prove ready to address critical security concerns around storage and access. 

PII represents a preferred path forward for a host of reasons:

  1. Greater efficiency given one true profile can be managed by just one data provider that can manage preferences. 
  2. Finally, the ability to have a true, accurate view of the single person you are targeting 
  3. It better protects the consumer’s choice to opt-out in some places and opt-in in others with more simplicity around how those preferences are enforced. 
  4. Better security versus persona-based, anonymized data that is shared and passed around ad nauseum.

So why aren’t more industry folk shouting from the rooftops about permission-based PII? 

Well, because it’s a lot harder to stand up deduplicated, PII-based digital profiles for consumers. The old, “cookie world” stalwarts recognize that there’s about to be a major shift in the digital identity playing field. Those that haven’t been preparing for this moment will be caught flat-footed. 

But for marketers? They are in the midst of a moment deserving of rejoice. Costs are set to be optimized. ROI is set to increase. Simplicity is poised to become the rule, not the exception. 

In the weeks and months ahead, we’ll dive deeper into the power of PII. What it can do. How it can be used. Why it’s the perfect partner for a world of transparency. And most importantly, how it can make campaigns more effective than ever before. 

In the meantime, discover how to become cookie-proof in our free premium guide and get in touch if you’d like to learn more.

Steve Horne

Author Steve Horne

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