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Tim Glomb of Cheetah Digital: why zero-party data is better than cookies

Cookies are on the way out and a new form of data collection is coming to replace third-party data. Recognising consumers concerns about data privacy, but also their simultaneous desire for personalisation, is essential for digital marketing. Zero-party data can help brands identify consumer desires more specifically without sacrificing trust in the relationship.

Vastly different from the cookies that track users from site to site as they travel across the internet, zero-party data is up-front with consumers about what information they are collecting. Brands can create strategies to request targeted information, usually dictated by marketing goals, from individual consumers and then build strong profiles out of that information.

These three companies, in the beauty, health and apparel industries, were totally transformed by a zero-party data approach. Able to reach their customers directly, instead of using third-party data collection, they maximised the ROI on marketing spend and also generated accurate buyer personas for future use. The world is shifting away from cookies and other methods of gathering third-party data. This opens the door for brands looking to gather more personalized data sets from their customers, without fishing around behind their backs.

A longtime leader in the beauty industry, Estée Lauder was one of the first in the beauty industry to sell makeup products online, even when many were uncertain if consumers would purchase through an e-commerce site without testing the products in-person.

Recently, Estée Lauder tested out various forms of chat bots on their website to help customers find the correct product. Through their research and with the help of data personalisation experts, they found that customers wanted to remain anonymous but still get personalised shopping recommendations. Their written chatbot was wildly successful.

The firm’s data about consumers’ shopping preferences is supporting marketing initiatives and also increasing brand trust. With cookies proving to be a less effective form of data collection, brands are starting to spend more on zero-party data initiatives so that they can glean more useful information to better understand consumer behaviour.

Fitness brand Les Mills (above) attained similar results with a targeted survey that Cheetah Digital designed to help customers get back on track with their health goals during the pandemic. Within the survey, the customers freely shared personal contact information and fitness goals, and then received personalised recommendations. This is zero-party data at work: customers freely gave information to the company in order to attain personalised fitness suggestions.

In the fashion industry, Vans developed a loyalty program to cultivate their relationship with customers, and learn more about their preferences in the process. Program members get access to exclusive products, experiences and collaborations, instead of the generic discounts and points-schemes found in most loyalty programs. This initiative served both the customer and the brand. Customers got access to exclusive products and experiences from their favourite brand, and Vans collected valuable insights about consumer behavior and preferences.

Zero-party data is giving companies more targeted, and therefore more effective, insights about their consumers. This strategy also removes the middle man and allows individual brands to own data about consumers, instead of renting it from third-party sites. Cookies are on the way out, but brands won’t suffer if they optimise other strategies that encourage direct-to-consumer relationships.

Tim Glomb is VP of Content and Data at Cheetah Digital.

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