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Own Your Data: Prepare for the Death of Cookies and Other Privacy Changes

Privacy changes are making it harder to rely on third-party data. Destinations must adjust their marketing strategies in response to the death of third-party cookies and other new privacy policies. It’s time to optimize your marketing strategy toward leveraging your own analytics by collecting your own first-party data. 

Data privacy changes have been incrementally put into practice over the years. The GDPR implementation in 2018 marked a major milestone for user privacy regulations, and since then, more policy changes have gone into effect. This year brings with it two big changes: iOS 14 privacy updates (implemented in January) and Google removing third-party cookies from Chrome (coming later this year).

Destinations will still be able to leverage their existing analytics provided by first-party cookies, such as Google Analytics and Google Ads global site tag. However, the iOS 14 updates and the removal of third-party cookies will have a major impact on destination marketing. Madden’s media experts recommend destinations take the following steps to ensure your marketing impact is not suppressed. 

Understand the Digital Marketing Effects

In order to respond to these changes, destinations must first know how privacy changes will affect their existing marketing programs. 

Smaller Remarketing Pool

Third-party cookies going away means website visitors who were previously moved to a remarketing pool from third-party pixels or trackers will no longer be captured. The iOS 14 updates also mean if users opt out of having their data collected on the Facebook App, they too will no longer be moved to a remarketing pool. However, you will still be able to retarget users from your first-party data. 

Vague Lookalike Audiences

The practice of creating lookalike audiences from third-party data will be less precise.Third-party cookies will no longer capture website visitors or users who opt-out of having their data collected. This means your lookalike audiences will be based on incomplete data if they are solely created from third-party data. 

Less Understanding of Targets

Data collected from third-party cookies enable destinations to understand their target audiences’ interests and behaviors. This creates the opportunity to deliver tailored messages that are more likely to resonate. Without that data, destinations are left in the dark about their targets’ specific interests and unsure whether messages are compelling them to visit. 

Decrease in Reported Conversions

While your tactics will be driving users to your website, your tracking will no longer capture all related metrics. It’s important to know that it is not necessarily a reflection of ineffective tactics. The decrease will likely be due to users opting out of having their activity data captured.

How to Respond to Privacy Changes

It’s not all doom and gloom. There are things you can do ahead of these updates to counter any potential negative impacts. Destinations must rely on more first-party data. Here are ways to optimize your strategy towards generating leads and respond to privacy changes. 

Integrate Lead Generation on Your Website

Having users opt-in and share their data will garner more robust leads for your organization. By including pop-up banners, calls-to-action, or always-on lead forms on your website, you can collect first party data and build up your own database. Destinations should also look to optimize these tactics by conducting A/B tests and determining which methods and messages most effectively generate leads. 

Develop a Smarter Database

How valuable is the data in your database? Is all the information accurate? Do your leads actively engage with your content? Do you have detailed information about your leads’ interests? These are the types of questions your team should ask when scrutinizing its database. If your leads don’t provide your team enough information to execute targeted marketing tactics, then you must adjust your lead generation strategy to cultivate more detailed leads.

It’s not enough to collect names and email addresses. Your lead generation tactics should make clear to users that you’re asking for their information so you can send content they find relevant. This means collecting information about why they like to travel, their desired experiences, and what they look for when deciding which destination they visit. At the same time, it’s important not to ask too many questions—especially open ended questions—in a single form. Users tend to opt out if forms are cumbersome and time consuming. You can always use information from one always-on form to send additional surveys or follow up forms to users via email. Your strategy should aim to build relationships with your targets.

Leverage Emerging Technologies

DMOs, CVBs, and other destination marketing entities are not the only organizations that are responding to privacy changes. Google is actively working with its clients to find innovative solutions like Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) and FLEDGE to provide privacy-preserving alternatives for reaching audiences. 

Equipped with Your Own Data

While the death of third-party cookies and privacy policy changes will affect destination marketing strategies, there’s no reason it should cause disruption. By putting the above strategies into practice, destinations will be able to better inform decision making and compel their target audiences to visit. The insight derived from managing your own database and generating quality leads will also enable a more effective omni-channel approach. 

While privacy policies primarily affect paid digital making tactics, the adjustments your organization makes in response will benefit your entire integrated marketing strategy. The quality data you collect will feed into every tactic and result in more effective content marketing, organic social, landing pages, and messaging. For this reason, destinations should not view these privacy changes as an obstacle to overcome, but as an opportunity to evolve your marketing efforts. 

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