3 reasons influencers will emerge as the heroes of the “cookiepocolypse”

Mon Oct 12 2020
Jenn Kim

As a consumer, are you concerned about your data privacy? If so, you’re not alone. 

More than ever, consumers worry about having control over their personal data, as data breaches become more common. In fact, recent studies show:

  • 79% of Americans are concerned about how their data is being used by companies. 
  • 81% of consumers say the potential risks they face from data collection by companies outweigh the benefits.
  • 92% of consumers say companies must be proactive about data protection. 

With these growing demands from consumers, Google announced earlier this year that it’s planning to phase out support for 3rd-party cookies within the next two years to make web browsing more secure for users. While it’s a step in the right direction for a more privacy-focused open web, the removal of 3rd-party cookies has major implications for how retailers advertise — starting what we now know as the “cookiepocolypse.” 

What is the cookiepocolypse?

The cookiepocolypse refers to the looming disappearance of 3rd-party cookies, or the bite-sized pieces of code that track what a user does on their device across different websites. These cookies are used to identify customers and many companies personalize and target various audiences online through the use of this tool. In addition, some brands also rely on vendors who use 3rd-party cookies to offer certain experiences on their website that they don’t want to build themselves — such as a chat service that can track what product page a customer is looking at when they start the chat. 

Needless to say, the removal of 3rd-party cookies is sure to shake up the marketing ecosystem and change how companies advertise to users across the web. Going forward, it’s important for every marketer to value consumers’ privacy, and make deeper connections to run ads in a privacy-focused way. 

So, what’s the key to reaching your target audience, and making those deep connections, despite the cookiepocolypse? 

Collaborate with social media influencers

In the past few years, many brands have adopted influencer marketing to increase brand awareness, create engaging content, boost sales, and so much more. In the post-cookie world, influencer marketing will become even more crucial for brands as 3rd-party data diminishes and consumers demand more trust and authenticity. 

Here’s how influencers can help your brand navigate the post-cookie world. 

Influencers have 1st-party audience data 

In order to continue providing personalized experiences for customers, you need data. Without 3rd-party cookies, you may lack the important information that used to be the key aspect of your performance marketing strategies. But by working with influencers, you can leverage something even better: 1st-party data. 

Influencers have access to 1st-party data directly from their followers — data they can legally share in an aggregated, anonymized form for a specific campaign with a specific brand. Privacy concerns are minimized because the influencers own the data directly from the interactions with their audience. Marketers can leverage this high-quality data to predict future patterns, gain audience insights, and perhaps most relevantly, personalize content and ads. 

Influencers have relevant audiences

Influencers have devoted audiences who not only have similar interests as them, but also aspire to live like them. For instance, people follow travel influencers to fulfill their wanderlust and get inspiration for their next vacation, or they follow beauty influencers to learn how to achieve a similar makeup look. Because of this, their followers want to know everything from the everyday products they use to what the creator is eating and wearing. In other words, influencers have real relationships with their followers, making their recommendations relevant and trustworthy. 

Despite having no cookies to track and retarget your ideal consumer, you can still reach them on various social platforms by working with influencers who represent your target customer. So, find creators who are real brand fans and align naturally with your products and mission. Since they have loyal audiences who share similar interests, working with them will allow your brand to reach those who matter most to you in an authentic way. 

Influencers are master storytellers

While the marketing landscape is constantly changing, one thing that has not changed is the importance of great storytelling. The best marketing campaigns seek to inspire consumers with engaging stories around the brand. For example, Ruggable’s campaigns feature content from influencers who share how the washable rugs have helped them keep their home stylish and clean — despite having a shedding pet or a messy toddler dropping food. Through the influencer-generated content, Ruggable is able to tell captivating stories around the brand, while showcasing the value of its products. 

The good news is that your brand can do the same. Influencers are master storytellers, who can share how a brand or product has helped them solve a problem or changed their lives for the better. Their genuine stories paired with their high-quality content makes their sponsored post more compelling than any brand-directed paid media content. At the end of the day, it’s real people — not ads — that hold the power to sway the perceptions and purchasing decisions of their friends and family.

Sybil Grieb, the former US Head of Influencer Marketing for Edelman, summarizes it well: “When done strategically, influencer marketing delivers far more than a brand’s paid media can. Influencers can drive awareness, key messaging, engagement, and most importantly, trust in a way that a brand alone cannot. Together, these add up to increased sales.”

Leverage the power of influencers in the post-cookie world

With the help of influencers, your brand will be able to continue building relationships with your target audience, despite the cookiepocolypse. While you may not be able to track and retarget consumers based on third party data, you can leverage first party audience data from influencers to gain insights, reach relevant audiences, and create personalized ads paired with engaging stories. In the post-cookie world, collaborating with high-quality, well-aligned influencers will be crucial.