Although articles provide evidence of considerable progress, Google's Privacy Sandbox plan to phase out support for third-party cookies now requires an extension – in other words, they'll be turning in the assignment a little late.

The Privacy Sandbox initiative aims to create web technologies that both protect people’s privacy online and give companies and developers the tools to build thriving digital businesses, ultimately keeping the web open and accessible to everyone, now, and for the future.

Key theme: protect privacy. But what about us advertisers?

Post the IOS14 changes, we will now be feeling the audience squeeze from all angles and experiencing limitations for choice, more so now than ever.

Let's take topic audiences utilization as an example, a key element to most audience approaches. With the new topics API, "a user’s browser determines a handful of topics such as “Beauty & Fitness” or “Running & Walking” that represent their top interests for the previous week based on their browsing activity. When a user visits a participating site, the API will share up to three topics—one from each of the past three weeks—with websites and their advertising partners who can use it as one of many potential signals for interest-based advertising." (Google, 2022).

Unfortunately, we don't browse course pages as we do clothing sites during the end of season sales. Educational based signals aren't as broad as running shoes, beauty or fitness. Users aren't forced to hand over personal identifiers when signing up for discounts or checking out. And that's if they haven't already got an account and will be signing back in with their cart history intact. 

If there's one piece of good news taken from Google's Sandbox implementation extension, it is that an extended deadline provides us with more time to incorporate first party data capture into our user journey, but more importantly, time to test and learn with a first party data led approach.

What is first party data? 

Put simply, first party data is the data gathered from clients that interact directly with your brand. This covers any data that comes from your marketing channels, such as your website, app and social media platforms. 

What separates first party data from third party data is the unique insight it provides into the customer experience. Through first party data, you can gain a firsthand account of how clients engage with your brand, giving you the tools you need to understand their motivations, personalize their experience and boost interactions. As well as retarget and create lookalikes from a strong source. 

What does a first party data approach look like? 

While the Privacy Sandbox will impact how user data is collected, there are still many unknowns about how exactly it will affect advertisers. However, one thing has become abundantly clear: to enjoy the full benefits of first party data, you’ll need an effective customer data platform (CDP). Here are some ways in which first party data and your CDP can work together to boost conversions. 

1) Customer acquisition 

It’s one thing to collect your first-party data — it’s another thing to convert those prospects into applicants. Most prospective students will interact with your brand multiple times, such as by opening your emails, visiting your website or following your social media accounts. To analyze this data, it’s helpful to integrate your different data sources into a single, easily manageable CDP.  

Once you’ve gained a clearer view of your data, you open the door for developing more effective targeted advertisements. Every time you analyze first-party data, you gather more details about the behaviors and motivations of your key audience. With this information, you can create targeted audiences so that your ads reach students who are most likely to convert, ultimately maximizing your budget and increasing enrollments. 

2) Real-Time insights 

First-party data is most effective when it’s gathered quickly. Of course, when you have data coming from multiple sources, acting quickly is easier said than done. Fortunately, a CDP can do much of the work for you.

An effective platform will reduce your time to insight, or the amount of time it takes to gather data and connect it to actual individuals. The sooner you identify key audiences and capture their attention, the more likely you are to achieve conversions. Not to mention, correlating your data to real people helps curate a much more personalized student experience. 

3) Customer consent 

Whenever you’re gathering data, consent is key. Because you’re directly asking prospective students to share data (as opposed to going through a third-party source), first-party data simplifies the act of gaining consent — for instance, on your website, you can get consent by asking visitors to opt-in or opt-out of data collection. It’s then your responsibility to ensure their data isn’t used against their will. 

If someone is engaging with your brand across multiple channels, this can get a bit tricky. For example, a website visitor may opt out of data collection on your website, but their information may still be gathered through email. A CDP lets you link consent information to each individual, helping ensure you don’t violate consent.  

It goes without saying that navigating the world of first party data can be complicated. However, as Google makes a shift away from third-party cookies, most advertisers have no choice but to pivot. At Net Natives, we offer a team of experts that can help you develop a first party data strategy that maximizes benefits. Our proprietary software can integrate your different data sources in real-time, enabling you to track marketing spend from the initial touchpoint all the way through enrollment. To learn more about how Net Natives can help you manage your prospective student data, get in touch with one of our experts today.