The End of Cookie-Based B2B Advertising
What this means for marketers in manufacturing.
The big three internet browsers will have phased out third-party cookies by 2022. Firefox and Safari were the first to phase out third-party cookies. Google on the other hand says that these changes will happen over two years as they work with advertisers to ensure that this pivot doesn’t destroy the online advertising business. Google Chrome accounts for about 69% of the global desktop internet browser market share.
What are first and third-party cookies? First-party cookies are “dropped” by website owners when a user visits their own website for activities such as pre-buying research. They help manufacturers understand their customers and deliver the best user experiences on their own sites. Third-party cookies are used primarily for retargeting and behavioral advertising. Cookies are dropped into browsers by domains other than the one you are visiting directly (hence the name third-party) and a log of users’ anonymized browsing behavior is built up and sent back to publishers’ advertising partners such as Google DoubleClick For Publishers. This means advertisers are able to display their ads to relevant audiences. Automated advertising based on cookie-based audience signals accounts for almost 90 percent of digital media.
Why is Google killing third-party cookies? A Google blog post explains why they are making third-party cookies obsolete: “Users are demanding greater privacy–including transparency, choice, and control over how their data is used–and it’s clear the web ecosystem needs to evolve to meet these increasing demands.”.
What does this mean for marketers in manufacturing? Many global manufacturers and their ad agencies rely on third-party cookies to build behavior profiles and target users with relevant ads based on their web activity. As Google begins to phase out third-party cookies, profiles created by these cookies will include less accurate information about users and this form of digital advertising will become ineffective.
How can we do ABM without third party cookies? With the end in sight for cookie-based ads, let’s take a look at what options are available for marketers in manufacturing seeking to reach unknown members of buying groups in key accounts:
1) Contextual or keyword advertising. You can run ads on websites that are relevant to the publisher’s content based on keyword targeting. One of the most well-known examples is Google Ads, where the Google Display Network automatically serve ads that are relevant to your users based on contextual targeting. Here is an example of a Balmain B2C contextual ad appearing in the New York Times targeting the keyword “fashion”.
2) Direct Publisher B2B Advertising. Buying ads directly from business and trade publications has several benefits vs. programmatic advertising, including exclusive inventory and access to publisher 1st party data that sometimes includes company name and job titles and keyword searches. Here is an example of a direct publisher ad from CAT, appearing in Hospital & Healthcare Management Magazine.
Unfortunately, the 1st party data with direct deals are often stale and usually too limited in volume to make a significant impact on your target accounts. Most direct publisher ad deals end up targeting all readers, including non-target accounts – leading to wastage and sub-optimal ROI. Furthermore, direct publisher advertising is difficult to scale because each publisher offers different audience selection criteria and each publisher needs to be contacted individually for optimizations.
3) Social Network B2B Advertising. Social networks continue to grow and the ad targeting tools in Facebook/Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn have become increasingly granular. B2B marketers can now build audiences from social data, including company names and job titles. Of course, the leading social network for B2B is LinkedIn, with over 660 million members. Here is an example of a LinkedIn Sponsored Content ad by Adobe.
Unfortunately for account-based marketers, the LinkedIn Campaign Manager tool was really designed for prospecting and lead generation. It encourages B2B marketers to spend increasingly more on wide audiences that engage or converts rather than going deep on key accounts. This is because the majority of LinkedIn members don’t log in every day. For ABM, LinkedIn recommends selecting at least 1000 target companies. But this is not a very focused approach and the cost of engaging entire buyer groups on so many accounts would be cost-prohibitive.
4) Account-based IP advertising is the only reliable way to drive awareness with both known and unknown buying group members in large target accounts. It avoids ad wastage and having to guess which publications your target accounts read. Even with many people still working from home, IP targeting continues to outperform other ABM channels because most buying group members in large companies do their research online using a corporate VPN.
Here is an example (video) of an Eaton Lighting ad targeted to just 20 key accounts appearing in a publication when a target account views that page from their corporate IP address.
Instead of wasting your marketing resources chasing dying cookies, 3rd party intent, and non-target account leads, now is the best time to focus your marketing and sales efforts to go deep on your key accounts. This involves:
- Mapping out your key accounts by division, country, known buying committee members, email addresses, postal addresses, phone numbers, IP addresses, and first-party cookies.
- Leveraging account-based analytics software to prioritize key accounts based on anonymous website research and to track ABM results across all channels.
- A coordinated omnichannel marketing program including email and LinkedIn to reach known contacts and account-based IP advertising to reach the unknown and extended buying committees.
Check-in with your advertising agency and account-based marketing vendors to find out if they still use 3rd party cookies. Find out their plans to adapt to the changes, so you get the most out of your marketing budget.