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Why the end of cookies doesn’t mean the end of personal data

Written by Alida

Published January 12, 2023

Like many advertisers, your company has probably been fed a healthy diet of digital cookies for years. Now, however, the menu is changing—and so are your customers’ data preferences.

When Google announced in August 2019 that third-party cookies would be phased out of its Chrome browser to meet rising privacy demands, advertisers were left with a lot of questions. Luckily, new solutions rose to fill the void, and they might just be better than any cookie you’ve ever had.

Here’s why the end of cookies doesn’t mean the end of personal data—and why that’s such a big deal for businesses like yours.


The data on personal data

Before we dive into the specifics, let’s take a step back and reflect on how we got here.


What is personal data, anyway?

According to the European Commission, “personal data is any information that relates to an identified or identifiable living individual.” That includes names, email addresses, geographical locations, and, yes, cookie IDs. Information is also considered personal data if it has to be pieced together to identify an individual.

It’s also important to note that personal data remains personal as long as it can be utilized to track someone. That means if you encrypt or anonymize information in a reversible way, it’s still personal data. If, on the other hand, you irreversibly strip this information of any identifiable elements, it’s no longer considered personal.


How many companies rely on personal data?

Companies of all shapes and sizes have been gathering personal data for years. A report by Clario makes it clear that this information is vital to brands of all kinds:

  • Facebook collects almost 80% of available personal data
  • eBay and Netflix gather around 30%
  • Amazon and Walmart collect approximately 20%
  • Google Suite—including Google Docs, Google Sheets, and Gmail—collects about 15%


How do consumers feel about that?

They’re not super thrilled.

According to the Pew Research Center, approximately 60% of surveyed Americans felt it was impossible to go through daily life without having their data collected by companies, and almost 80% were concerned about how that data was being used. Privacy remains a significant concern, but data security is equally important to consumers.

Regulations like the European Commission’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) have evolved in response to this customer discomfort. This is also why Google decided to phase out cookies, and why many other companies’ browsers actively limit them.


Earning trust from your audience

So, where does all this leave your company?

The truth is that, with or without cookies, one of your main goals should be to earn consumer trust. Here’s what that looks like from their perspective:

  • Show me what data you’re collecting
  • Explain why and how you’re using my data
  • Assure me that you’re protecting my data after you collect it
  • Offer the opportunity to opt-out of any data collection that makes me uncomfortable

No matter how you gather personal data, it’s important to be transparent. You don’t have to share all your marketing secrets with your audience, but you should make them feel like their information is in good hands—and that it isn’t being used to prey on them.

For example, you might frame personal data collection as a way to better understand and serve your customers. Show them why and how you can tailor their experience using this information. Why? Well, according to research gathered by Business2Community, 80% of users are more likely to purchase when companies use personalization, while more than 50% are willing to share data in exchange for personalized discounts.

You can also build trust by explaining to users how their data is protected once it’s captured. Since cyberattacks are on the rise, according to the Info Security Group, this is a vital step—so make sure customers know you take their privacy seriously.


How to keep learning about customers

Once you’ve built that level of trust, you don’t need to worry about the end of cookies. Why? Well, that’s where zero-party data solutions come in.

Zero-party data is information actively, consciously, and intentionally given to your brand. It can include purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize them. In short, it’s collected voluntarily and directly from customers, meaning it’s a partnership between you and your users.

Let’s take a closer look at how this works:

  • You want to perform well in a competitive marketplace. To do that, you need to learn about your audience, create better ads, and ultimately earn more profit
  • Customers want more relevant interactions with your brand. They don’t want to waste time or money on services that are “cookie-cutter” in nature

The beauty of this scenario is that one thing can address both sets of needs, and that’s personal data. You can ask for data to get what you want, and customers can give data to get what they want. 

Zero-party data solutions represent a win-win scenario, allowing both parties to enter a mutually beneficial partnership—one that has very clear terms and responsibilities. It’s predicated on the idea that, since you’re transparent about your data needs, you’ll also be transparent about how you use that data to actively benefit customers. 


Goodbye cookies, hello zero-party data

The end of cookies doesn’t mean the end of personal data, and it certainly doesn’t mean the end of the world. Instead, view this as an opportunity to get closer to your customers and build real relationships instead of viewing or treating them as numbers on a page. The result isn’t just accessible data—it’s richer, more valuable data you can use in entirely new ways.

If you’re ready to put zero-party data on the menu, you’ve come to the right place. At Alida, we’re all about creating the relationships that help you effectively, efficiently, securely, and transparently capture personal data from your customers.

To get started, explore Alida TXM solutions today.