The Crumbling Cookie: How Will It Affect Targeting?

March 19, 2020
Andrew Stark

The tracking cookie has finally crumbled.

And if you’re tasked with reaching healthcare or pharma customers with vital information, it’s unlikely that the supposed “death” of cookies will impact just one aspect of your marketing strategy. 

Take targeting -- and the process of using cookies as a proxy for finding and engaging with your audience -- for example. 

Ensuring that the supply chain surrounding your data is HIPAA-compliant at each consumer touchpoint can be a stomach-churning task, even for the most experienced marketers. Then there’s the challenge of maintaining compliance globally when legislation, like GDPR and CCPA, has transformed cookie-based targeting into a minefield of brand risk.  

Still, the cookie often gives you just what you need—a portrait of consumer behavior that informs your most fruitful media buys. And now that the cookie has less than 24 months to live, what will take its place? 

As the reach and intensity of data privacy regulation strengthen globally, adding layers of complexity to healthcare data access, healthcare companies are finding cookies (and the often unreliable data they provide) to be unwieldy, ineffectual, and high-risk components of their marketing strategy. 

In this post, we’ll examine some alternatives to traditional, cookie-based marketing for life science and healthcare companies, and how a new approach is transforming how marketers connect with consumers.

How the Cookie Crumbled

After Firefox and Apple’s Safari made cookie-blocking a default browser setting,  advertisers could still glean valuable data from the world’s most popular browser, Chrome. Recently, Google announced plans to eliminate third-party cookie use within its ecosystem in two years.

According to a Google post, "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."  

With the majority of users online immune to cookie-based targeting, and even the IAB touting the death of the cookie,  marketers will have to adapt to a radically transformed advertising landscape.

Are You Ready for a Post-Cookie World?

Without cookies, advertisers will lose their cheat sheet—consumers will have to be won and engaged the old-fashioned way, with content and advertising that seduces an opt-in. 

The golden era of advertising may be returning, with “gold” being defined as data-rich insights that are independent of cookie-based tracking

Ask yourself these three questions about your digital ad spend:

1. Where is my data coming from?

Generic advertising platforms offer generic results at best. You might find cleanly derived data bundled with dated or erroneous insights. Or you may discover that your media buys improperly targeted because your audience data is incomplete. 

Of the numerous scenarios that can drain your ROI, one of the riskiest is the use of data through an advertising platform that isn’t conversant with the needs of healthcare industry marketers.  

Because of the complexity of consumer healthcare data access, understanding the provenance of the consumer insights that you use to build strategy is a marketing and brand risk management imperative. 

2. Do I have access to meaningful insights? 

A cascade of irrelevant, non-hygienic data won’t improve your ability to reach and engage your targeted audience. 

Even if you have a treasure trove of cleanly harvested consumer data, you’ll need to place your insights within the unique context of your marketing goals. That means you need full access to audience portraits that are rich in multi-sourced insights, preferably from a single platform.

3. Are my media buys evidence-driven?

Whether it’s the creation of content or ad buys, your strategy shouldn’t be based on a single data source. With the right platform, you’ll have a variety of data sources to inform your decision-making right at your fingertips. You’ll develop campaigns that connect with your consumers at the right time because your audience portraits are fresh, comprehensive, and uncluttered by irrelevant data.

If you answered “No” to any of the above questions, don’t worry.  The cookie has left behind a trail to a solution.

Context is Your New Cookie

It isn’t hard to find statistics that underscore the impact of message relevancy on consumer brand recognition and engagement. The difference between marketing success and failure, however, usually depends on the ability of the marketer to optimize the context of brand messaging. In a challenging market where healthcare information has taken center stage, life sciences and healthcare advertisers have an opportunity to present messages that audiences are ready to hear.  When, how, and where a brand message reaches your consumer is a choice that can’t be left to a platform that was not purpose-built for the unique challenges of healthcare and life sciences marketing. Getting the most out of your budget requires an enterprise-grade solution that allows seamless integration of real-time, unique health data insights into every aspect of campaign development and rollout, from workflow design to ROI-focused media buys. Most importantly, Life only employs data that is derived, warehoused, and sanitized in a HIPPA compliant process created specifically for the needs of healthcare brand marketers.

Context-Driven Marketing is an Evergreen, Cross-Platform Solution

Life allows you to focus on media ROI effortlessly, without compromising on marketing benchmarks. Using Life, marketers can curate audiences across 90% of the US population, including 1.2 million health care professionals. Life uses proprietary machine learning processes that search for opportunities to optimize the impact of every use of data in every ad placement and content marketing campaign.

From unique data sets providing healthcare insights to our multi-platform content marketing services that incorporate search, social, video, and display, Life is the only solution your brand will need to scale effortlessly.

Learn more about Life or contact us today for a personalized demo.

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