Adobe solutions for future-ready data collection beyond third-party cookies

Enhancing data collection methods is becoming a key concern in today’s digital marketing landscape. With the introduction of stricter regulations and increased customer demands for data privacy, companies are moving away from reliance on third-party cookies. Instead, they're turning to first-party data collection and management solutions. These approaches not only afford businesses more control over their marketing strategies but also demonstrate a strong commitment to protecting user privacy.

So, what does this mean for businesses collecting and leveraging data going forward? How has Adobe carved a path forward for businesses to thrive in a ‘cookieless’ future?

Moving towards a “cookieless” future

The term “cookieless” frequently appears in discussions about privacy and digital marketing, suggesting a future where we no longer use cookies at all. However, this interpretation is somewhat misleading.

First, we have to differentiate between first-party and third-party cookies:

First-party cookies are created and stored by the website itself when a user visits. They play a vital role in enhancing user experience by ‘remembering’ a user, storing login details, and preserving session states within the same domain.

Third-party cookies are set by domains other than the one the user is visiting. They’re primarily used to track users across different sites, collecting data for analytical purposes and targeted advertising.

It is third-party cookies that have triggered many privacy concerns, so in reality, the shift towards a “cookieless” future refers to the phasing out of third-party cookies specifically. This is driven by several factors:

This phase-out seeks to enhance online privacy and security, responding to growing consumer concern and regulatory pressure, and represents a significant shift in how user data will be collected and utilized across the web. Websites and established tracking mechanisms still require and will continue using first-party cookies to function effectively. So marketers and advertisers are now being prompted to explore new methods of data collection that respect user privacy, while still garnering valuable insights.

How does this change the way businesses collect data?

Since existing methods still rely broadly on third-party cookies, this transition impacts several key areas of digital marketing today:

Today’s marketers must adapt to these changes, exploring new tools and approaches including first-party data collection, server-side tracking, and other privacy-compliant tracking technologies to navigate this new landscape.

Note: When we refer to server-side tracking, technically it is a server-forwarding process where data is collected and passed on to a tool like Adobe Event Forwarding to be processed and used by downstream platforms.

Server-side data collection is the path forward

Server-side has emerged as the critical technology in adapting to the evolving digital privacy landscape and the phasing out of third-party cookies. Where traditional client-side tracking methods lean heavily on JavaScript and cookies—creating a direct link between the user’s browser and advertising platforms—server-side offers a novel approach. By rerouting data collection through servers, it presents a robust framework for handling user data, enhancing privacy, and ensuring compliance with evolving regulations.

With that, it allows teams to promptly analyze user interactions while significantly mitigating privacy and data security concerns.

The advantages of server-side data collection over traditional methods are manifold:

This shift not only addresses the immediate challenges posed by new privacy regulations and the decline of third-party cookies but also aligns with a future-oriented approach to digital marketing.

How can businesses utilize Adobe tools to implement server-side data collection?

Implementing server-side data collection to gather user interactions involves critical steps to accurately capture, process, and securely transfer data downstream for analysis. This method enables businesses to utilize the data for delivering personalized customer experiences.

Adobe’s tool stack provides full end-to-end coverage of this process:

Adobe products preparing you for the cookieless world

In the evolving landscape of data and digital marketing, choosing the right technology stack and strategy to safely collect and leverage data is paramount. Luckily, Adobe offers some of the most comprehensive tool stacks in the market that strike a great balance between privacy and improving customer experience via personalization and experimentation. This means businesses no longer need to depend on cookies and can exercise greater ownership and control over understanding and addressing their target audience rather than paying large sums to advertising platforms to do it for them.

At a high level, businesses should pay attention to these 3 pillars when developing their customer data strategy:

1. Improve your technology stack

Given the deprecation of third-party cookies, how will your business collect first-party data in a way that is secure and integrated with the rest of your tool stack? Adobe offers the AEP Web SDK (Software Development Kit) that collects data client-side, which can then be forwarded to the server side using Event Forwarding. On top of this, businesses can leverage FPID (First Party Device IDs) to create first-party cookies on the server side to have more durable, cookie-based identifiers.

2.Establish zero and first-party data collection, and prioritize transparency

It’s more important than ever today for businesses to invest in data transparency, and show their customers exactly how their data management strategy protects their privacy and is compliant with regulations like GDPR. In this aspect, Adobe Experience Platform’s real-time CDP (customer data platform) leverages zero and first-party related customer data to prepare businesses for the cookieless future.

3.Go deeper than surface-level data analytics

The most progressive businesses today are moving away from purely quantitative analytics and towards more qualitative, holistic views of who their customers are. Adobe Customer Journey Analytics supports the usage of custom identity stitching to create a holistic view of the customer journey, helping businesses understand who they are, discover the patterns, and cater to them more effectively.

Why proactively preparing for the cookieless future matters

The transition to a cookieless future poses unique challenges and opportunities for businesses striving to adapt to evolving digital landscapes. The good news is that there is still time for companies to prepare and reshape their strategies. Notably, Google's recent announcement about postponing the phase-out of third-party cookies until the end of 2024 or the beginning of 2025 provides businesses with a critical window to reassess and strengthen their data collection and analysis methodologies.

However, this grace period is not an invitation to remain idle. It's a call to action for organizations to proactively prepare for the inevitable shift towards more robust data collection mechanisms and first-party data reliance.

As we navigate this critical shift, businesses face the technical complexities of implementing server-side tracking, ensuring compliance with global data privacy regulations, and devising innovative ways to collect and leverage first-party data effectively. These challenges, while daunting, also open the door to unparalleled opportunities. Companies now have the chance to forge more transparent, trust-based relationships with their audiences and to explore alternative strategies for personalization that move away from invasive tracking practices.

This is a pivotal moment for innovation in how we approach digital marketing and audience engagement. Advancements in Adobe’s technology underscore this and establish the company at the forefront of enabling this 'cookieless' future.

In this transformative period, Cognizant Netcentric stands ready as a beacon for businesses, large and small, guiding them through the intricacies of this revolution. Our team of experts is here to demonstrate how to leverage the Adobe stack to its fullest potential, ensuring your data collection, management, and utilization strategies are not only compliant but are leading the way in ethical and effective digital marketing practices.

If you're looking to navigate the complexities of this digital evolution with confidence, let us show you how to harness the power of Adobe’s tools to secure your place in the future of data-driven marketing. Cognizant Netcentric’s team of experts is here to help businesses large and small navigate this revolution.