How to best understand your audience, without cookies

Without being able to track users online, advertisers will gradually lose visibility on learning about consumer behaviour. What can they do?

data and analytics, data management, enterprise technology, it and managed services, e-Commerce in APAC report


With Apple’s new privacy feature on iOS 14.5, getting enough data on customers for one’s business analytics becomes a challenge. Pair it with Safari’s and Firefox’s third-party cookie ban, it becomes an even greater challenge for businesses to collect information.

Consumers now enjoy greater privacy online from the rollout of cookieless browsers. In addition, iOS 14.5 gave Apple users the opportunity to choose whether applications can track their usage via the Identified for Advertisers (IDFA).

data and analytics, data management, enterprise technology, it and managed services, e-Commerce in APAC report

However, according to Stuart McLennan, Senior Vice President, Asia-Pacific, Rakuten Advertising, the opt-in rate to the IDFA has been relatively low – especially in the APAC region.

“Without the ability to track users online, advertisers will gradually lose visibility on learning about their consumers’ behaviour beyond their sites. Brands will also lose the ability to target audiences based on third party data. Regardless, they will still be able to target cohorts or Unified IDs, or engage contextual targeting,” shared McLennan.

“On the other hand, for consumers that have provided consent, their data will be “cleaner”, which means businesses can focus their time and resources on consumers who are more open to hearing from them.”

A new way to know your audience

To learn more about their customers, McLennan recommends businesses to engage in affiliate marketing that allows it to use a publisher’s audience data to reach their target audience.

“Affiliate networks offer companies the opportunity to be part of the consumer’s consideration and purchasing journey,” added McLennan.

“Within the network, brands can gain access to carefully vetted publishers that have the same audience they are targeting. Additionally, such platforms also provide insights into transactions and browsing behaviours, that will inform brands about their consumers’ preferences.”

Nevertheless, even after adopting such a method to understand their customers, McLennan advises brands to ensure that they receive something valuable in return for sharing their data – either through an enhanced customer experience, engaging content, or incentives such as loyalty points or cash back rewards.

How to thrive in a cookieless situation

For businesses that used targeted ads, the iOS 14.5 implementation allowed it to focus on factors within their control.

McLennan revealed that organisations could work on the following:

  1. Enhancing customer experience

Companies would need to prioritise enhanced customer experiences. This includes faster delivery times, a greater variety of products, and incentives to consumers in the form of cash back, rewards, vouchers, and promotions.

According to Rakuten Advertising’s e-Commerce in APAC report, 66% of Malaysian consumers and 54% of Singaporean consumers cited long shipping wait times as a deterrent for not completing an online purchase.

Consumers also want to feel rewarded for purchasing. This would allow them to interact with the business more, resulting in them providing more quality first-party data and more traffic to the site.

  1. Adopting new technologies

Companies could look into adopting new technologies to reach new consumers. It is critical for companies to prepare for the loss of personalisation and find different ways to reach consumers as they continue to have more control over how their behaviour and data are being used by marketers.

Instead of relying on cookies to launch hyper-targeted campaigns, brands can still engage with their most loyal customers in the form of improved on-site customer experience that are tailored for their expectations, or connecting with them via new affiliate technologies such as post-transaction referral codes or live commerce.

As long as advertisers and publishers are well-prepared, the affiliate industry will continue to grow in a cookieless world.

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