Navigating the Cookie less world with ads optimized for first-party data strategy


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Last year in 2020, the data privacy landscape for e-commerce marketers in the middle of the pandemic shifted rapidly. A World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) study said 89% of large multinational companies have deferred marketing campaigns during the pandemic’s global lockdown phase. Apart from COVID-19, there were other reasons that got marketers to take this step. E-commerce owners rely heavily on paid ad campaigns. Ad spends and campaign optimization using visitor data determine the success metrics of each ad. But, with the hyper-dynamic landscape of browser restrictions and data privacy, cookies that fetch data are disappearing.

Some of those hidden reasons are:

  • A total loss of visibility into attribution
  • Browsers gating customer data as third-party
  • No room for ad optimization.

All these were a bundled effect of international privacy laws and new updates by browsers to keep up with user privacy preferences. I want to demystify that the increasing complexity of data privacy will not threaten advertisers of losing their first-party strategy. I would like to present why third-party cookies don’t align with data privacy regulations. And also some ways in which e-commerce marketers and advertisers can find real-time data to optimize ads.

Demystifying the basics of a cookieless world for ad publishers.

Third-party cookies are JavaScript snippets that are published by the ad platform on behalf of the brand or marketer via the browser. Safari ITP, Mozilla, Firefox, Explorer, and many others in the market allow advertisers to store customer data for only 24 hours. This means any long-duration campaigns that rely on attribution, retargeting, and personalization cannot be fulfilled.

The use of third-party cookies depends upon client-side tagging. Client tagging is subject to data thefts, leakages, and misuse of user data. The new privacy norms and the inherent challenges of client-side tagging make the property of storing data on the client (browser) unsafe. This is a huge discouragement for brands and marketers to proceed with programmatic and paid ads.

However, there is a workaround for this and that is what I would love to present to marketers.

Adopting the First-party strategy using Server-side tagging integrations

Server-side tagging is a well-known infrastructure approach for those marketers who own their customer data. Every marketer with a first-party data strategy would already be implementing some kind of a server-side tag manager within their martech stack. But, what not many people are aware of is the ready-made quick server-side integrations. This can be adopted by advertisers too.

How to gain the first-party advantage with stringent user preferences?

Server-side integrations were complex and time-consuming. But many popular demand-side platforms including Facebook ads are offering a quick server-side integration. Some server-side tag managers prepared for the next generation have built single-click server-side integrations. Using server-side tags for ads can help marketers collect first-party data through paid ad marketing.

Ways in which e-commerce marketers use server-side tagging to their advantage

E-commerce marketers prove their success by selling the most products to free up the inventory. As long as they are successful in emptying the inventories pretty fast, their ads are working well. Adopting server-side tagging not only provides a first-party advantage but also, for the following:

  • With additional data streaming, accessing real-time data to optimize ads.
  • A/B testing and personalization by using customer ID data.
  • Visibility into data with integrated analytics that support the attribution
  • Optimize ads for omni-channel marketing
  • Retargeting and remarketing using customer ID data.

A Data layer is a must-have foundation to make the most out of server-side tagging as a data strategy.

First-party data strategy allows marketers to implement ads across channels, effortlessly. Server-side tagging also promotes ad optimization to save the bucks and maximize return on investments.

Nischala Agnihotri
I am an independent Content Strategist discovering content-driven conversion stacks for martech and smart B2B companies.


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