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Mind Readings: Context and the Cookieless Future

Key points from this episode:

  • Cookies are small pieces of text that are placed on your computer by websites you visit. They are used to track users and remember their preferences.
  • There are two types of cookies – first party and third party. First party cookies are placed by the website you are visiting. Third party cookies are placed by other websites, usually for advertising purposes.
  • Third party cookies have gotten a bad rap because they can be used to track people’s online activity and build profiles of their interests. This has raised privacy concerns.
  • Systems like Apple’s Safari browser and Google Chrome are reducing the ability for third party cookies to track people.
  • As a marketer, this does not need to be a big deal. You can still reach your audience by focusing on content and context, rather than cookies.
Mind Readings: Context and the Cookieless Future

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Machine-Generated Transcript

What follows is an AI-generated transcript. The transcript may contain errors and is not a substitute for watching the video.

In today’s episode, let’s talk about the cookie list future.

This is a question that has been coming up a lot lately, as browsers and platforms are announcing the reduction of support for cookies, particularly third party cookies.

So let’s let’s clear the air for a bit and explain what’s going on.

And then talk about why this is probably not a big deal, if you have your head on straight, and you’re using your brain to do marketing in a slightly different way.

First of all, what is a cookie? In the context of marketing a cookie is just a small piece of text, it’s a text file that gets embedded on your computer.

When you visit somebody’s website, when you visit this website, there, you get one or more of these little cookies that say, Hey, you visited this website.

And on this thing, it’s if you think about like a fortune cookie, right? That’s, that’s really, the amount of text we’re talking about is some kind of unique identifier that allows services like Google Analytics, for example, to not only track you, but remember who you are, when you keep coming back.

Right? Every time you come back to the website, software, like Google Analytics will look at your browser and say, Hey, I see a cookie here from myself previously, I gave you, yep, you’re the same person.

So I know you’re a returning user versus a new user.

Now there’s two general classes of cookies, first party cookies and third party cookies.

A first party cookie is when a website gives you a cookie from itself.

So if you were on trust, insights.ai, and there was a cookie called trust insights.ai, that would be a first party cookie, I gave you this cookie, right.

And so my systems can can talk to it and, you know, manage your preferences, and to give you the ability to set certain settings and things like that it’s a first party cookie, a third party cookie, is when you get a cookie from a website that you’re not necessarily on.

So again, you go to the Trust Insights website, you the site loads, Google Analytics, Google Analytics, which is over on google.com.

Issues, you will cookie says, Hey, here’s a cookie, you’re on the Trust Insights website.

But obviously, Trust Insights has installed Google Analytics.

So here’s a cookie, that cookies from google.com, not trust insights.ai.

And therefore is a third party cookie.

If I was running my own web analytics software on the Trust Insights website, and it was like analytics set TrustInsights.ai AI, that would be a first party cookie, third party cookies have gotten a bad rap, because a lot of the time, particularly on big publishing sites.

Other people are giving you lots of cookies, lots of identifiers, lots of ways to track you.

So let’s say you go to my personal website, from the Trust Insights website, the domain changes from trust insights.ai to ChristopherSPenn.com, Google Analytics gives you a cookie.

And then Google looks there says, Hey, you’re the same person that was on the Trust Insights website.

So it sees that you travel to a different website.

And now we can see how it’s starting to track you from place to place.

Now, when you go from there to CNN, or when you go from there to you know, Time Magazine, we go from there to ESPN.

That cookie keeps going with you the Google Analytics one as you go from site to site to site and Google goes, Hey, you’re the same person I’m gonna track of all the places you’ve been.

This, obviously, for good reason, has caused a lot of concerns about privacy, right? Suppose that I go to target.com.

And then I go to walgreens.com.

And then I go to Planned parenthood.com.

And suppose that you’re collecting data all along the way? What might you infer about me? Right? Suppose after I go to Planned Parenthood, I go to a fertility clinic, what might you infer about me, based on the patterns of where I’m going, and third party cookies enabled us? Every one of those sites would be allowed to track me on their site from that organization, right? If I’m on target.com targets allowed to track me on the target website.

But should target be allowed to track me on the Planned Parenthood website? The reason why people are saying no more third party cookies is because they’re saying we don’t want to know, we don’t want target to know, when I’m on the Planned Parenthood website, or when I want a fertility clinic close.

And we only want target to know when I’m on the target website.

And so first party cookies.

Okay, third party cookies, not so much.

So that’s what the in a nutshell is going on.

There’s a bit more, you know, technical architecture to that.

But that’s essentially what’s going on.

What’s happening now is that systems like Apple’s iOS Safari browser, Google Chrome has announced support coming soon.

Firefox, the other browsers have said, Hey, we’re going to reduce the ability for third party cookies to track people.

If you use an ad blocker of some kind Adblock.

Links offer those also block third party cookies, which means now that these companies aggregate data and resell it to marketers are losing their ability to track you from site to site, right.

They’re all these ad networks that have that partner with places like CNN, or Fox News or whatever.

And, you know, they get the millions of people funneling into these big publisher sites.

And they have all these ad tech companies, throwing cookies on your computer, left and right, so that they can all track you from site to site and build profiles and track you across the web.

And the reduction of third party cookies, which is what’s going on now is essentially saying yes, a lot anymore.

Not allowed anymore.

Which is good for privacy.

Not good if you’re a market who relies on that data, right? If you’re trying to, to quickly and easily build a list, I need to show ads to people who are 45, mid 40s, Asian men who go to target.com, or shop for home goods or are interested in firearms, whatever the thing is, it used to be easy for marketers to go to an ad Texas and say I want to buy a segment of people like this and show them ads for my thing, because I think that’s who is interested in my thing.

Now that those capabilities are going away, as a consumer, I’m okay with that.

I’m perfectly okay, if companies are having a harder time tracking.

What about as a marketer? Do I care? I don’t.

And here’s why.

Everything that we do with content online as marketers has context to it, right? content isn’t just featureless bland destinations.

It’s it’s stuff that people are interested in.

So if you know your customer, you can talk to your customer, find out what they’re interested in, and then you target not the customer, not the list, not the cookie, but the content itself.

So let’s say you’re somebody who’s really interested in headphones.

Do I need to know, do I need to put a cookie on your browser and track you from site to site? If I know that you’re interested in headphones? Probably not.

If you’re interested in headphones, and you’re on say CNET’s website, reading headphones reviews, and I’m a manufacturer of headphones.

Where should I buy ads? Right? Should I buy ads on Home and Garden magazine? Not necessarily.

Should I buy ads on CNET? Maybe? Should I buy ads on CNET’s headphones articles? Uh huh.

You betcha.

Right? Because I know if my audience is interested in these things, and they’re looking for information, I can just show ads on the context relevant pieces of content.

And I don’t have to worry about cookies.

I don’t care where you go next.

Right? I don’t care what other things you’re browsing for that day.

But if you’re on an article that’s talking about the best headphones for airplanes, and I’ve got the best headphones for airplanes, I should be showing ads on that place.

Right? That’s pretty intuitive.

Extend it a step further.

Suppose that you’re an influencer? Right? You’re a YouTube creator, you do gear reviews.

And you’re, you’re showing all these, you know, your review of all these different kinds of headphones, and maybe mine tonight in the line, maybe I’m a new company.

If I’m gonna run YouTube ads, whose channel should I run ads on? Yours if you’re a creator who’s reviewing headphones, and I’ve got headphones for sale, it seems pretty obvious I should be running ads on that content.

Maybe I could take it a step further.

Maybe if you are a headphone aficionado, when you have a hanging out channel on Twitch, maybe I should sponsor you as a creator and say, hey, you know, Chris has headphone channel brought to you by Chris’s headphones.

Again, this is not rocket surgery.

This is finding out what affinities our audience has been going to the places where the content lives, about those things.

And running ads there.

You don’t need cookies for that.

You barely need, you know, banner ad systems that are more sophisticated than the ones that came out in like 1998.

Show your ads and the places where people go to learn about your class or product.

And you don’t need to track people.

Sponsor newsletters, sponsor social media posts, by people who have your audience.

The thing about the creative economy.

The thing about all these different personalities and stuff in the creative economy is that they all have audiences they’re doing the hard work of a track Getting a like minded audience.

We as marketers, we don’t have to do that anymore, right? We don’t have to go to an ad tech system and buy 15 different segments we can say.

Adriana has got a gaming channel on Twitch that covers these games from our own market research talking to our customers, we found out our customers really liked Minecraft, Adrian has got a Minecraft show on Twitch.

Let’s go sponsor Adriana his channel.

And we Adriana has done the hard work of getting the eyeballs getting the crowd, all we have to do is compensate Adriana appropriately, if she takes ads to run ads to her audience to bring in new audience.

So that’s where advertising and marketing has to pivot to away from the demographic away from the market segment and focused on the content and the context, right? Who has the content that is consumed about a product and service? Right? If I am running, I’m creating a new course on data science maybe who talks about data science, whose YouTube channel whose Twitch channel whose Patreon or Gumroad or substack, or only fans or whatever, who’s got that my audience that I want to be able to reach out to and say, Hey, I’ve got 1000 bucks, 5000 bucks, 50,000 bucks, whatever the case is, can we partner can we collaborate? Can we do something? Can I run ads to your audience, because you’ve done the hard work of building a data science audience that I want to get access to, to sell my course.

That is the cookieless future.

It is not an advertising free future.

And in fact, if you focus on the content, and the creator, you’ll be able to advertise in places that don’t allow ads.

For example, my friends, he was got a Twitch channel where she streams her gaming stuff.

But she’s always got a Discord server.

And on our Discord server, guess what? No ads, none.

There are no ads there.

There’s no ads on Discord period.

Now, suppose I said, Hey, I want to sponsor your channel.

For the next 30 days, here’s five grant to I want to reach you’ve got the crowd that I want.

Can we work out where maybe you do a partner announcement in your discord channel? You know, just at everybody.

Guess what? Now in the immediate environment where there are no ads, I get to be the only advertiser because I figured out that if I partner with the Creator, I can reach into all their channels.

If I pay him enough, right.

And there’s no competition, I don’t have to probably I probably have to worry about another competitor in those private places.

Because I’ve I’ve worked with the Creator, the hub of that network, to reach into all the different areas of their network.

So the cookieless future might be a blessing in disguise for marketers, it really might be because it forces us to change from our lazy habits, just buying up swathes of people who may or may not even be interested in what we have to offer.

Because, you know, all these ad tech algorithms are based on only observed data.

And if we’re clever, and we’re willing to work hard, and we’re willing to really do our research, the cookieless future might be a blessing in disguise for us to be able to pivot to much better marketing.

So that’s the show.

Thanks for tuning in.

I’ll talk to you soon.

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