You might have experienced perfectly-timed advertisements on Facebook for that sweater you had left behind in your shopping cart a few seconds ago. This is an example of retargeting ads, where marketers pay to have their products show up on the websites that their customers visit after they browse. While you might find them a little annoying (and creepy), it’s about time to bid farewell to the source of these ads: cookies.
Moving away from third-party cookies.
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that we are currently living and shopping in an increasingly cookieless world. In January 2020, Google announced its two-year plan to phase out third-party cookies from its Chrome browser, creating a ripple effect in the advertising world. While this means that ad companies can no longer rely on cookies for consumer data to power their targeted advertising, it doesn’t mean that Google will stop tracking consumer activity or stop collecting consumer data. It will continue to do so, and with the Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) as the cookie replacement, ad companies will be able to target groups of consumers instead of the individual.
This doesn’t sound like a significant change, but it represents a movement in the tech world that has long been in the making. One of the clearest examples of where we are headed is the mobile ad-tracking experience, specifically Apple’s moves to increase protection of consumer privacy with its iOS updates. Earlier this year, the iOS 14.5 update added a feature called App Tracking Transparency, which requires app developers to ask users for permission before tracking their activity. This step has brought into reality advertisers’ worst fears: about 94 percent of users in the U.S. chose to opt-out of tracking.
How can marketers navigate this changing landscape?
This statistic is telling of consumer sentiments regarding their privacy and highlights an element of distrust towards how their data is acquired and being used without their knowledge. The infamous Facebook-Cambridge Analytica scandal of 2018, for one, exacerbated distrust amongst consumers. In an age where customer acquisition cost has increased 60 percent in the last six years, marketers need a data source that is both transparent and sustainable. As an article in Ad Age puts it, “all roads lead to first-party data.”
The use of first-party data assumes a direct relationship between the brand and its customers, because such data provides insight into a brand’s own customers and visitors across all of its channels. The foundation of first-party data on trust already proves it to be better than third-party cookies. But while there is a laundry list of additional benefits, brands have struggled to make the most of their first-party data because “it’s messy, disorganized, and spread across a bunch of disconnected systems that were never meant to integrate.” Furthermore, there is no shortage of media sources that warn brands of the changing marketing landscape, but few point them to concrete solutions.
The Role of QR Codes in a First-Party Data World
With all these changes, it's become increasingly important to find easy methods of collecting first-party data, like QR codes. The pandemic has supercharged the irrevocable adoption of QR codes in virtually every industry, speaking to qualities that have proven to be critical in bridging the physical and digital world. Brij leverages the convenience and efficiency of QR codes to build and strengthen brand-consumer relationships in a retail environment that is increasingly competitive and a tech world that is increasingly cookieless. Indeed, at the core of Brij’s platform is first-party data collection.
Since first-party data involves consumers opting in, there needs to be an incentive for them. Brij caters to the consumer perspective, and prioritizes a seamless experience from start to finish. Brij’s QR codes display specific incentives to motivate the the shopper to scan and provide critical pieces of data: whether that’s to activate a warranty, redeem a discount, or learn more about the product’s origins. If it’s a beverage, for example, customers can discover recipes. If it’s skincare, they can find detailed instructions, ingredients, and an easy reorder option. Some might say these are a product’s superpowers.
There is clear value to the customer, and it goes both ways. A registration propels a brand from not knowing anything about the customer to knowing their email, geography, date of purchase, and item purchased—all on a simplified dashboard. The more you as a brand know about your customers, the better able you are to deliver meaningful product recommendations and relevant texts and emails. Customers give these identifiers knowingly—and that makes all the difference for a stronger relationship.
Learn More About QR Codes in Retail
Ready to make QR codes a bigger part of your business? Read about their rise in popularity and the best way for you to incorporate them into your retail business.
Clienteling Gets a New Look with Endear
The capabilities that first-party data enables are valuable because they are driven by personalization. As consumer expectations around authenticity, sustainability, and core values continue to rise, brands need to keep up and exceed by investing in relationship-building opportunities and using first-party data to increase consumer lifetime value. Simply put, they need to invest in clienteling.
Clienteling means efficiently using customer information to create more personalized shopping experiences, with the goal of relationship-building. Customer relationship management (CRM) is becoming more sophisticated in the retail space as additional communication channels open up and brands are required to devote significantly more time to managing all of them. As a clienteling app specifically for retail, Endear takes first-party data acquired by platforms like Brij to unify the customer experience across all channels and therefore improve it.
The pandemic has made it clear that uncertainties are inevitable, but it has also motivated us to invest in the tools that are more sustainable and valuable for brands and customers alike. Brands already know to embrace first-party data - the next step is to put it to good use.