3 ways the crumbling cookie could improve customer experience

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Despite all the handwringing by marketers and advertisers, Google’s latest move to phase out Chrome’s third-party cookie support -- "in two years” -- is not a new one. Apple released Intelligent Tracking Prevention for its Safari browser in 2017 to prevent third parties from tracking users for over 24 hours after visiting their websites. In 2019, Firefox also announced that it was blocking third-party tracking cookies.

The stakes are high. A huge chunk of the ads you see on the web are driven by third-party cookies which are part of a somewhat dubious ad tech infrastructure that tracks and trades on consumer and identity data.

Consumers are wary

Digital trust is a prominent theme in Experience 2030 — a new global survey on customer experience (CX) led by SAS and Futurum Research. Only 54% of consumers trust brands to keep their data private, and 73% of consumers believe the use of their personal data is “out of control.”

Consumers expect value when they provide their data to brands. But trust is an issue of control, and consumers feel they have little or none. Brands need to give back some of that control by:

  1. Making first-party data work harder.
  2. Doubling down on contextual personalization.
  3. Embedding AI-powered analytics across the customer journey.

 Let’s look at each of these one by one.

1. Make first-party data work harder

Many marketers are shifting to their own first-party data, or data that belongs directly to publishers or platforms — instead of using third-parties that don’t have clear chains of consumer consent. Advanced analytics can reveal purchase intent signals so brands can position themselves appropriately in front of their customers’ paths as they navigate the customer journey.

For example, SAS Customer Intelligence 360 dynamically collects every consumer interaction down to the keystroke on all digital properties on a brand site. Plus, SAS’ open data model translates digital customer data into useful insights — and can be combined easily with existing online and offline customer data.

2. Double down on contextual personalization

Data and AI-powered analytics help solve the personalization conundrum: Customers demand first-rate personalization, but are loath to share their personal data.

Each brand interaction informs what a prospect or customer is trying to accomplish at that moment. The experience will be less creepy if marketers have a mechanism that allows them to act on real-time insights in the moment, ushering the customer to the next best action.

Let’s say a consumer buys a tweed jacket. Based on the cart history and previous purchases, the retailer can send her an offer for shirts that will go well with the jacket via app push notifications when she’s in the vicinity of the store. Mobile apps can also be used for in-store contextual marketing and further personalization — all on the consumer’s terms.

SAS embeds machine learning in SAS Customer Intelligence 360 to determine when and where to place personalized content onto web pages or in mobile applications for optimal engagement and dynamic personalization. This might encourage customers to willingly share data and give explicit consent to do things such as one-to-one targeting and cross-device recognition — minimizing the risk of creepy CX.

3. Embed AI-powered analytics across the customer journey

When marketers can apply predictive analytical models across the key customer journey phases, brands can uncover opportunities to cultivate value generating behaviors and extend the customer’s lifetime value.

For example, SAS Customer Intelligence 360 uses machine learning and AI to guide customers along a journey based on their real-time behavior, parallel journeys, historical data and other data such as geo-location, sensors, wearables and more. Marketers can then design and orchestrate customer journey paths to predict and deliver the best combination of touchpoints the customer has used, whether it’s:

  • Human interactions (such as a call center).
  • Digital interactions (website, mobile apps).
  • Customer service (live chat, conversational AI).
  • Onsite experiences (retail store, bank branch).
  • Narrow two-way interactions (such as display advertising, interactive customer surveys).

The upshot: The future of CX is bright

Third-party data may be facing an existential threat. Leading brands will act on richer and more accurate data sets, and their messages will be more contextually relevant for each customer.

Brands that confidently deliver analytically-powered personalized CX at scale will have an edge in the cookie-crumbling media world.

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About Author

Wilson Raj

Global Director, Customer Intelligence

Wilson Raj is the Global Director of Customer Intelligence at SAS. His responsibilities include collaborating with industry leaders, customers, alliances, sales, marketing and product teams to establish, evolve and evangelize SAS’s growth strategy for analytics-driven marketing capabilities. With twenty years of experience in multiple industries, Raj has built data-driven brand value, engagement, and loyalty through expertise in integrating advertising, digital marketing, social media, multi-channel relationship marketing and public relations. He has held global leadership positions in marketing at Fortune Global 500® companies such as Microsoft, Novell. Medtronic, Philips, Ameritech (now AT&T Midwest). He also advised C-level executives on digital strategy while at Publicis and also at VML and Wunderman—as part of Young & Rubicam Group at WPP. Raj is frequently quoted in global media outlets and major industry publications such as Adweek, CMSWire , CNBC.com, CRM Buyer, DM News , eMarketer, InformationWeek, MarketingProfs,, ZDNet, and more. Raj holds a B.A. in English and an M.B.A. from Brigham Young University, and a Certificate-in-Education from the Institute of Education in Singapore.

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