6 Steps to Build a Data-Optimized Tech Stack (Without Third-Party Cookies)

In the ever-evolving landscape of customer data management, we're on the brink of a significant transformation: the era of moving beyond third-party cookies.

6 Steps to Build a Data-Optimized Tech Stack

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In the ever-evolving landscape of customer data management, we're on the brink of a significant transformation: the era of moving beyond third-party cookies.

We’ve been hearing about the death of third-party cookies for a few years now, with Safari, Google and Firefox all developing solutions that allow for a balance of tracking and privacy. Even with the options that these companies have developed, this shift demands a new approach to technology that infuses your strategy with the insights you’re used to getting from third-party cookies. 

In this blog post, we'll explore the impact of cookieless tracking and outline five steps to build a data-optimized tech stack in a post-cookie world.

Understanding the Impact of Third-Party Cookies 

Cookies have long been the backbone of online advertising and data tracking. They allowed businesses to follow users across the web, providing valuable insights into their behavior and preferences. 

But not all cookies are an equal risk to data privacy. 

What are cookies?

Cookies are text files that collect information about you and your browsing behavior online. They can fulfill a variety of tasks that impact the customer experience and marketers’ ability to find and target the right customers across the internet. 

The two main types of cookies are first-party cookies and third-party cookies. 

First-Party Cookies are collected by an organization and used only by that organization. They’re the ones you accept when you click yes on the cookie consent banner at the bottom of a website. One common use of first-party cookies is to remember your login information. 

A key point to remember: first-party cookies only track you while you’re using the website where you click “accept cookies”. They can’t follow you across the internet and collect any other additional information.

Third-Party Cookies, on the other hand, do follow you across the internet. They’re small pieces of code that are embedded in your browser that follow you from site to site and collect information about your behavior. They’re often used to compile a profile of you that’s sent back to a third-party, usually an advertising platform.

What are the problems with third-party cookies?

While first-party cookies are safe as long as the proper consent processes are followed, third-party cookies pose obvious problems in a world where data privacy is an increasing concern. 

Marketers have relied on third party cookies for things like: 

  • Audience insights
  • Retargeting
  • Targeting new audiences

The need for those things doesn’t go away. Marketers have become accustomed to the convenience and impact that third-party cookies provide, but we’re now faced with the challenge of adapting our strategy while maintaining the same level of insights and targeting capabilities.

A Data-Optimized Tech Stack for a Post Third-Party Cookie World

Step 1: Embrace a First-Party Data Approach

The first step in navigating around third-party cookies is embracing a first-party data approach. 

Start by prioritizing the centralized collection of data directly from your audience. By fostering trust and offering value in exchange for data, you can build a strong foundation of first-party data. This data can be a rich asset that allows you to understand your customers, identify trends, find more customers like your best ones and build a loyal audience that comes back time and again.

Step 2: Invest in a Modern Customer Data Infrastructure (CDI)

As you collect more data, you’ll need a place that stores your data in a way that keeps it secure while easily putting it to use for you. That’s where a Customer Data Infrastructure (CDI) comes in.  

A robust CDI serves as the backbone of your data strategy, enabling seamless data collection, compliance, and anonymous user activation. 

Look for solutions that provide server-side integrations, ensuring that data is collected and managed effectively across various touchpoints.

Step 3: Prioritize Compliance and Data Governance

With evolving data privacy regulations like GDPR and CCPA, compliance is non-negotiable. It can also be complex, with various regulations that can apply to your organization across different geographies.

Your data infrastructure should incorporate stringent compliance mechanisms to protect user privacy and adhere to legal requirements. This includes integrated consent management and data sovereignty features to ensure that your data practices are in line with global standards.

Step 4: Activate Anonymous User Data

In the absence of third-party cookies, it’s critical to find ways to use all of the data you have, even those who have opted out of cookie collection. A modern CDI allows you to intelligently activate and utilize anonymous user data. This means making the most of the data you have while respecting user privacy and consent. Advanced techniques like progressive profiling can help you build a more comprehensive view of your audience over time.

Step 5: Seek Comprehensive Integration

Your data-optimized tech stack should seamlessly integrate with all aspects of your organization. 

From marketing automation to customer relationship management, each component should work together harmoniously to provide a unified view of your customers. Integration ensures that data flows efficiently, leading to better decision-making and a more personalized customer experience.

Step 6: Test and Optimize Your Strategy

As companies prepare for the cookieless future, it is important that they take steps to properly configure and test their tech stack prior to implementation. This will ensure that customer data is accurate and secure at all times, while also optimizing the data collection and analytics processes. To do this successfully, you need to review the architecture of your tech stack configuration for any potential risks or issues, followed by load testing to identify any bottlenecks that could slow down performance. 

Pro tip: Security protocols should be established before rolling out the new setup, and all data should be verified as accurate and up-to-date before going live with the new configuration.

Build Your Tech Stack Beyond Third-Party Cookies

To thrive in this new landscape, businesses must adopt a modern approach to data management. 

Building a data-optimized tech stack, anchored by a robust Customer Data Infrastructure, is key to collecting, activating, and utilizing data effectively while ensuring compliance and respecting user privacy. By following these five steps, you can navigate the cookieless future with confidence and stay ahead in the data-driven