Data Collection and the Death of the Cookie

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Modern data Collection Practices

Online/social media tracking, subscription, and registrations are some examples of modern data collection practices.

Online/Social Media Tracking

  • Online tracking is one of the modern data collection techniques that organizations are using today. Online tracking is often successful through business websites and apps. In this case, an organization may use the services of a web hosting provider or analytics software to track website visitors, how long they were on the website, and what they clicked. As the social media space continues to evolve, more organizations are collecting customer data from these platforms. Social media monitoring allows organizations to see their followers and their characteristics, which informs them more about their target audience, brand mentions, and analytics based on the performance of posts.
  • Research indicates that almost 50% of the world’s prolific brands rely on online tracking and particularly through social media. More so, platforms such as Facebook legally collect more than 70% of all the data about users, while Instagram collects almost 59% of data available to it. Other social sites such as Tinder and Grindr collect almost 56% and 53%, respectively. Online tracking is an innovative data collection method as it fetches important details such as users’ names, location, email address, and date of birth. These details can be used to curate the likes and dislikes of a brand’s target audience.
  • Taco Bell is an example of brands that collect data through online tracking. Through the years, Taco Bell has continued to cater to its target audience, which mostly comprises the youth demographic. Through data collection, the brand uses the knowledge to create more content that is witty, timely, and a little sarcastic using emojis and memes. Today, the brand has managed to create the Taco Emoji Engine that allows users to interact more with the brand. To achieve this, Taco Bell lobbied a petition and garnered 33,000 signatures online, and five days after introducing the taco emoji, the brand received over half a million direct tweets. Taco Bell has continued to use social media to collect customer data and to run successful campaigns.

Subscription and Registration

  • Today, brands are offering their customers something in return such as a rewards program, in exchange for valuable user data. In this case, a brand may engage its customers by inquiring basic information or engaging site visitors who wish to sign up for a brand’s email list. Subscription and registration is an innovative data collection method that creates leads that can be converted as they actively demonstrate an interest in a brand. Often, the forms used to collect this information seek to essentially strike the perfect balance in the amount of data a brand is looking for, without prying or probing too much personal information, which can discourage people from participating.
  • Brands such as Zappos are embracing the subscription and registration data collection method as it has proven to be high-value and has a higher conversion chance, compared to traditional data collection methods. In this case, brands are adding a small questionnaire for site visitors or customers who have shown any interest or sign up for emails, rewards programs, or newsletters. By offering customers something in exchange for personal information, brands can collect helpful and relevant information that can help to improve decisions making.
  • Through subscription and registration, brands are in a better position to collect relevant customer data depending on the type of business a brand represents. The most common types of data collected through this method include identity data, which includes name, address/contacts, date of birth, gender, social media profiles, and occupation. This method is also ideal for collecting descriptive data such as marital status, which informs a brand on the lifestyle, hobbies, and expectations of customers. In some instances, subscription and registration can help inform a brand on quantitative data such as transactions made by clients.

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The Death the Cookies - Impact on Digital Marketing

Even though most digital marketers have always relied on third-party tracking cookies, “the death of the cookies” has forced most brands to innovate other tracking methods in their digital marketing efforts.


  • For more than two decades, digital marketers have relied on third-party tracking cookies, to weigh consumer behavior online, target, retarget, display advertising, and behavioral marketing. Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) and Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP), by Firefox, are responsible for the death of the cookie. Google’s Chrome is also set to block cookies by default. New regulations such as GDPR, the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and Browser-level blocking third-party apps have also contributed to the death of the cookie.
  • When Google announced that it would block third-party cookies in the Chrome browser, digital marketers were concerned, as Google warned they could lose over 50% of their revenue on the verge of a new golden age." However, the death of the cookie was also a relief as its dominance meant that digital marketers were pushed to the end of the ad-tech ecosystem. Death of the cookie means that digital marketers can rise past reliance on cookies to the top of ad-tech and thrive through trusted media environments, enjoy direct brand-audience relationships and also, access their first-party data.
  • Popular e-commerce platforms such as Shopify are evolving past reliance on cookies, even though they were some of the big beneficiaries of the information yielded by cookies. With the death of the cookie, Shopify is using web analytics to run on other types of unique user identification. Through web analytics, Shopify is in a better position to analyze its internet traffic and target personalized ads, without the help of cookies.
  • While Chrome is not the sole browser to phase out cookies, it is the biggest as it made more than 56% of the web browser market in 2019, and it also accounts for more than half of all World Wide Web traffic.

Case Studies of Customer-Centric Brands

  • American Express and Nordstrom are some brands that are using customer data in new ways to connect better with customers and become truly customer-centric.

American Express (AMEX)

  • American Express is one of the brands that is diversifying customer data to create lasting relationships with customers and become genuinely customer-centric. Through online conversations, American Express has proven that it does not only seek to harvest customer data but is also genuinely concerned with creating a community of value, based on the feedback of its users. The company’s Open Forum website is a collaborative and innovative platform that leverages the value provided by industry experts and customer feedback. In some instances, American Express invites guest authors to answer common questions from its clients and add knowledge to customers.
  • By engaging industry experts and guest authors to add value and share knowledge with customers, American Express continues to provide customer-centric content, while building its audience and generating more traffic. The more value a website puts out, the higher the chances of engagement, which grows online communities, while minimizing financial overheads. The content-rich mega-site is proof that American Express uses customer data to form lasting relationships with its customers.
  • American Express has continued to use different methods to create a customer-centric culture. Some of these methods include; rewarding the best customer service representatives for their contribution to the company, making time to listen to their customers and analyze the feedback, and brainstorming on innovative, customer-centric solutions, based on customer data. These methods have played a major role in creating an excellent connection between AMEX and its clients.


  • Nordstrom uses retargeting intelligently, to ensure that its customers are not easily distracted due to multiple windows or messaging services that may persuade these customers to leave their carts. Nordstrom uses an assertive retargeting strategy through emails and ad campaigns especially on social platforms, which act as a serial reminder that make it hard for customers to forget or abandon their purchase. However, Nordstrom is keen on giving its customers value as opposed to just mining data from these customers. The brand uses customer data to inform decisions that better their customer experience and improve their service.
  • Nordstrom is keen on listening to its customers and giving them the ideal experience. Even though it is a bit pricey compared to its competitors, customers are willing to pay extra just to get premium and consistent customer service. Going above and beyond to add value to their customers has seen Nordstrom remain a strong competitor in an otherwise competitive retail space. The brand uses various data collection methods including gauging in-store traffic as an innovative way to curate better customer relations and overall better their customer experience.
  • Nordstrom understands that its audience informs its decision and collecting data helps the brand to know loyal customers and potential audience. As such, the brand capitalizes on data collected to strengthen its presence in the retail space, improve its customer service, and in finding ways or forms to deliver and add value in a bid to maintain its relationship with loyal customers. Further, Nordstrom creates questionnaires to understand the needs of surrounding communities and capitalize on adding value or solving those needs for better relationships.

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