Your ability to access and harness the power of third-party cookie data to drive performance is one reason why your clients hired you and continue to keep you around.

Although first-party cookies are staying, however, third-party cookies are not. So, where does that leave you?

By 2022, the number of brands that fully outsource the management of data is expected to fall by 52%, according to Deloitte. Marketing agencies that don’t fit into these new best-practice data-driven approaches are likely to be cut off.

In this article, we’ll look at the challenges likely to present for agency-client relationships, and how to tweak the way you provide your services, so you keep your clients—and continue growing.

How do you integrate into clients’ data stacks to better leverage their owned data? Can you deliver real-time reporting for rapid decision-making? Are you proving ROI for your agency services?

The removal of third-party cookies is the catalyst, but the real challenge is how you embed your services into your clients’ operations …

What Impact Will the Removal of Third-Party Cookies Have on Your Agency?

Web browsers are removing third-party cookies because people want transparency, privacy, and control over how and where their data is used.

“Consumers are highly sensitized to invasive and opaque data practices and are demanding control over the data that is collected about them and how it is used.”

That has created three major challenges for agencies:

  1. Driving performance. Such tactics as retargeting, lead generation, and lookalike modeling are now at risk. So, tracking customers across multiple channels, offering tailored experiences, and delivering the right content to the right people will become harder.
  2. In-house capability. Brands are bringing their digital marketing in-house because they need to respond to market demands quicker, have greater control over customer data, and get real-time insight into performance.
  3. Proving ROI. Every dollar spent is assessed for the investment it returns. With brands bringing their digital marketing in-house, agencies are under increasing pressure to demonstrate a higher ROI for their services.

What Deloitte Recommends Brands Do to Address Tracking Challenges

In its March 2021 report, Deloitte makes recommendations to brands and provides questions to ask of their operations, to overcome the challenges that the removal of third-party cookies brings. We can use those recommendations to gain a glimpse into the minds of our clients and future potential clients.

1. Utilize first-party data and proven strategies

To develop personal customer experiences and change tactics quickly, brands should combine first-party cookie data with public contextual data, machine learning, and AI. Also, brands should pair older strategies, like econometric modeling, with new analytical tools, such as data clean rooms, built on a shorter timescale.

Ask yourself:

  • How do you convey the value of using customer data to provide personalized experiences, while remaining transparent about data collection and giving users control over their data?
  • How are you streamlining marketing efforts across channels to optimize experiences for customers?

2. Centralize data

On average, brands collect customer data from 25 sources, but only a third use omni-channel tactics to optimize customer experiences. As a result, 90% of customers are frustrated by the lack of continuity across channels.

Consider then centralizing data in a Customer Data Platform (CDP).

Ask yourself:

  • Do your key performance indicators (KPIs) include trust and engagement across channels?
  • What’s in your marketing technology (martech) stack? How do you plan to adjust it to accommodate omni-channel trends?

3. Report in real-time

To respond to market demands quickly, brands need real-time insight into media buys, spending, and results. In doing so, brands can see what is and isn’t working, and pivot instantly.

Ask yourself:

  • How can you become more agile, so you can embrace change more readily?
  • Do you provide your customers with media and measurement transparency?

4. Develop resiliency

To prepare for future trends, brands should adopt a resilient, data-driven strategy that taps into owned information and prioritizes testing.

Ask yourself:

  • Do you demonstrate accountability and innovation?
  • How can you measure the negative effects of inaction and model the results to understand how this impacts your business?

What You Can Learn From Deloitte’s Recommendations to Pivot Your Agency

The themes above are around transparent, agile collaboration with real-time reporting. Your relationships with brands need to be built around accountability, knowledge sharing, and continuous innovation.

Is your agency capable of this? What changes should you make to prove your worth in this volatile digital landscape?

Perhaps the agency of the future has a dedicated data function that ties into account management, sustaining the connection and relationship with their clients and their owned real-time data. Maybe the value of agencies will move towards consultancy. Instead of measuring and optimizing customer experiences, agencies advise in-house teams on how to continually evolve their data, martech stack, strategies, and real-time reporting to create connected, omni-channel customer experiences that drive performance and growth.

You know how to drive value for your clients without leveraging third-party cookies … You don’t need us to tell you how to do that. What you do need to do is make sure your agency is prepared for a changing landscape.

Key Takeaways to Stay Competitive in an Evolving Agency Environment

Brands will no doubt be looking at you—as an expert for digital marketing—for guidance about how to navigate this rapidly changing digital landscape.

To keep your foot in the door:

  • Host data-training workshops with your team members to make sure that they understand their role in the clients’ overall pipeline, and how data they generate plays in that. Having data-savvy client-facing team members will inspire trust in your client base.
  • Work out how you can better integrate with clients’ existing data architecture and what value-added data you can provide them. A total of 67% of agencies report monthly. So, if you can report in real-time, you give yourself a competitive advantage.
  • Data privacy is paramount to customers. To help brands build trust with their customers, suggest new KPIs that measure trust and engagement. If you prioritize customer retention metrics alongside acquisition ones and implement customer-focused surveys (e.g., the Net Promoter Score) that monitor levels of trust and engagement, you can highlight where clients can build stronger relationships with customers.
  • Brands need to be transparent about how and why they use their customers’ data. Hold brainstorming sessions with your team, so you can develop trust-building strategies that allow brands to showcase their transparency around data capture and make their customers feel comfortable about sharing their data. Develop innovative ideas regarding giving customers control over what data they share; providing clear data sharing opt-out options; and displaying upfront messages that explain how data will be used, how data collection can benefit both parties (i.e., better, tailored experiences, not targeted, sales-driven ads), and how data will be securely handled.
  • Your clients need to know that they can change direction quickly, especially if something isn’t working. To give clients the confidence to do that, invest in reporting software that allows you to use attribution modeling to run granular reports that determine how the touchpoints in the defined conversion paths perform. Build those reports out weekly, so you can establish what is and isn’t effective, and work with your clients to pivot quickly.
  • Upleveling your operations like that can be expensive and challenging, but brands tend to be willing to pay for value they can measure. Consider offering that as a kind of Enterprise pricing level and leverage it to drive up your revenue, rather than eat into your operating costs.

How to Tackle the Three Main Challenges the Removal of Third-Party Cookies Presents

  1. Driving performance. You now have a smaller dataset of customer behavior to learn from and optimize. This means better leveraging of owned data and improved data-gathering techniques. Integrate well into your clients’ operations and recommend the right data best practices, and you can still drive plenty of value. You know how to do this!
  2. In-house capability. As brands need to align their data better for high performance, many will want to shift in-house. You can demonstrate your value by fostering a much closer working relationship with them and integrating your tools into their architecture. Doing so makes you function like an in-house team and increases the cost and risk profile of getting rid of you.
  3. Proving ROI. Stop using simple tools that let you execute your strategies without effective reporting. Instead, prioritize tools that can give you real-time reporting and integrate with the stack your customers already have. That could be Google Analytics or another platform. You can also budget for providing seats in your core software that clients can access for full transparency.

How Agorapulse Can Help You Build Mature Client Relationships That Last

In regards to your Martech stack, you want tools that can deliver across a wide range of functions and provide the highest levels of reporting, particularly around ROI.

Agorapulse integrates into your Google Analytics, working with a two-way sync that keeps both platforms up to date. At the same time, with Agorapulse, you can implement automatic UTM tracking across all links across all platforms as standard, with a one-time set-up.

That means you can combine the rich reporting Agorapulse’s Power Reports provides with the full journey tracking that the Social ROI feature gives you in Google Analytics and natively in the platform.

Agorapulse pricing also compares very favorably with other platforms on a per-seat basis. So, you can even invite clients in to give them full transparency over how their social media campaigns are performing—building trust and nurturing a long term relationship.

Sign up for a demo today to learn more about how Agorapulse can help you prove your value to your clients.

What the Removal of Third-Party Cookies Means for How You Structure Your Agency (Lessons from Deloitte)