Why finally kicking the cookie will feel so good

How many times was Lucy going to pull that football away before Charlie Brown ultimately had his day? 

I think of Lucy often. Specifically, every time one of the big tech companies that control massive foundations of the digital ad industry pulls that football away from the little guys (i.e., everyone else). Usually, it comes in the form of wholesale changes that substantially impact how brands or the data companies that serve them turn a profit. 

The latest offender with a fake-out move? That would be Google, which after initially announcing a cookie ban that caused mass hysteria just decided that “oh actually, this won’t happen until 2023 now.”

We’ll never know what motives are behind such major decisions. The public statements tend to suggest largely altruistic intentions. 

The trends tell a different story, however. 

Each big tech company is essentially finding a way to wrap one arm around its massive data trove and extend the other to keep everyone else at bay. It’s not enough to build a walled garden, they’ve got to build a moat around it too. “Mine, mine, mine.” 

Further down on the list of concerns? How all of this affects you, you, you. 

In talking with customers and industry execs, we know people are just plain fed up with the constant shifts and changes. 

We know it’s downright frustrating to not have a consistent process and methodology to rely on. How challenging it can be trying to understand what privacy and antitrust matters of the moment will uproot your business. The helplessness that comes from watching the government and big tech play an endless game of chess with little regard for downstream impacts. 

Thankfully, those getting tired of kicking a disappearing football have another option: kick the cookie. Once and for all. 

We understand why running cookie-based campaigns is so appealing. It’s cheap. It’s the devil you know. It doesn’t require upending years and years of established business processes. (Oops, that last one is definitely not true anymore as every day seems to bring nothing but change.)

But seriously, you have options. Over the past years, PII-based data specifically has proven resilient against the whims of big tech and whichever political party happens to be in power at the moment. Further, campaigns based on personally identifiable information have proven that a balance can be established between respecting evolving privacy and ethics trends while still maximizing performance. As you know PII is not the boogieman. Those that don’t treat it with respect and cyber security protections are.

In fact, here are four ways PII shines when compared to cookies: 

  • Actionable customer insights. With PII you’re not throwing darts blindly, hoping to hit something. You’re actually working with a single version of the truth for each individual customer. Over time, this makes it possible to expand specific user profiles as you learn more about interests and preferences. 
  • Customer retention and acquisition get a big boost. The best PII providers aren’t resting on their data laurels. They’re constantly updating and cleaning data to verify customer information. They’re also meticulously maintaining profiles and using advanced algorithms to identify lookalike customers that will be more likely to buy, further enhancing value. 
  • It is 100% opt-in and privacy compliant. It doesn’t take a crystal ball to see that privacy will rule supreme in the future of advertising. In the long run, it’s better for your business and it’s fairer for consumers. PII ensures you know who you’re marketing to, including exactly where they’ve opted in, opted out, and changed preferences along the way. 
  • Maximize every dollar spent. Campaigns based on bad data waste money. PII ensures you’re reaching an actual customer, mitigating waste due to fraud. Further, when you know who you’re targeting and what their interests and buying behaviors look like, you can surgically tune message frequency for optimal results. 

To put a bow on this football metaphor, it’s plain to see that cookies versus PII is the difference between living your life in a Peanuts cartoon versus kicking a well-placed field goal, every time. 

The choice is yours.

Steve Horne

Author Steve Horne

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