Your Data is Going To Become Even More Important
Next summer, we might all be wondering what ever happened to those car carousels that followed me around online. If we're being honest, repeatedly showing an image ad to someone because they visited our website without nuance is a form of marketing that the automotive industry has moved beyond in the main, but that's a side note in the next major issue to hit automotive dealer advertising campaigns - The Cookiepocalypse coming to a web browser near you in Summer 2024...
A Recap on Third-Party Cookies
Cookies are small text files stored on a user's device by websites they visit. They are often used for purposes such as remembering user preferences or tracking user behaviour for advertising and analytics. Even those not directly involved in digital marketing will probably have been caught up in the wave of new cookie consent banners, opt-ins etc., that caused hysteria during the introduction of GDPR and may, therefore, be aware that there are different types of cookies that website visitors can generally opt in and out of nowadays.
There are two types of Cookies relating to web browsing:
First-party cookies are created and set by the website a user visits directly. These cookies enhance the user experience by remembering user preferences, login information, and other site-specific data. First-party cookies are typically considered less invasive since they are limited to the website domain that the user interacts with directly.
Dealerships often use these to personalise the content on their website based on what they know about a website visitor. For example, if a user has looked at Ford Fiestas, I might want to tailor their content around small cars, not vans. Consumers are used to this sort of thing because it is widely used in online retail and can be very useful.
Third-party cookies are created and set by domains other than the website the user is visiting. These cookies are often used for tracking and advertising purposes. When a website includes content from third-party domains, such as advertisements, social media plugins, or analytics services, those third-party domains can set cookies on the user's browser.
Third-party cookies enable advertisers and ad networks to track a user's browsing behaviour across multiple websites, allowing them to deliver targeted ads based on the user's interests and preferences.
However, due to concerns about privacy and data protection, there has been a shift toward stricter regulations and browser policies regarding third-party cookies. Some web browsers have implemented measures to restrict or block third-party cookies by default, and there is a growing emphasis on user consent and transparency regarding data collection and tracking practices.
What is Cookiepocalypse?
For several years, online giants like Google and Apple have been discussing initiatives to provide consumers with greater privacy online. Google has been running an initiative called the Privacy Sandbox. We won't get into the details of that now. Still, this project's milestones indicate when Google will remove third-party cookie usage from Chrome (the web browser). When this happens, digital marketing campaigns that target users based on their anonymously-tracked behaviour (from third-party cookies) will no longer function.
Why Should I Care?
Well, we have discussed the importance of building audiences for as long as dealerships have been using marketing tactics like retargeting. For example, if someone reads a promotion you put out (reads, not just sees), you might want to market to that person differently from someone who hasn't done that. To do this, you add them to an audience - You don't know who they are, but you can target them. Cookiepocalypse pretty much puts an end to this (there will be caveats and workarounds to some extent, but it's going to be a lot harder).
So What Should I do?
We are back to good old first-party data. We're talking about value exchange - People don't just give up their data. You need to give consumers a reason to provide their data so you can follow up. Examples could be part exchanges, content notifications, or servicing alerts. There are many ways of doing this, but in an industry that has some quarters obsessed with "buy online" buttons everywhere you look - There's going to be a period of transition for some, going back to thinking about how to generate leads rather than offering someone another way to transact with their screen space.
With so much talk of data ownership in the agency model, single-customer views and web analytics, it becomes clear where the link is and why large organisations have had an eye on consumer data for some time. At Autoweb, we touched on this topic during talks in 2017 and 2018, and we have many ideas we have developed and are looking forward to sharing in future posts.
Please reach out if you'd like to chat about your strategy or what we think dealers should be doing (and how). We are always happy to talk.