Affiliate marketing and first-party data: What to do when the third-party cookies crumble

affiliate marketing and first-party data

It’s the end of an era. Internet browsers like Chrome, Firefox, and Safari have begun phasing out third-party cookies with plans to ban them completely by 2022 and Apple announced that their upcoming iOS will require users to opt into data collection instead of opting out. Governments are entering the fray as well, mandating even stricter privacy requirements.

How cookies have helped affiliate marketing

We know that gathering data about customers and potential customers is crucial to growing your business and your online retail presence. Third-party data lets marketers provide relevant information to people online through audience targeting and conversion tracking.

The risks of losing third-party data for affiliate marketing

Without another way to gather information, publishers will be launching new campaigns blind. They’ll be unable to judge their success and whether they should pivot ad copy to better reach their customers. Brands will lose money both in sales and in marketing budget because affiliates won’t be able to use the clearest, most relevant ads online any longer. Plus, frequency capping will be much harder as advertisers won’t be able to control how often their messages are delivered to users.

Affiliate marketing needs first-party data

The solution? If online advertisers know one thing it’s how to adapt. One way is shifting from third-party cookies to first-party data. First-party tracking data resides on the publisher’s web server, asking for the visitor’s permission to collect their data. The data that the publisher collects comes from their own websites, surveys, and social media interactions. This data can be used by advertisers and affiliates to learn about current and potential customers.

It’s important to start preparing for cookie-less browsing now. The longer you wait, the further behind you’ll be when the time comes to gather data in new ways.

If you’re already using first-party tracking to attribute affiliate sales, or using an influencer or affiliate marketing platform built on first-party tracking and measurement, these updates won’t impact you. The tracking technology should be privacy compliant while creating best-in-class attribution for brand and performance marketers.

Not using first-party tracking and not sure where to start?

That’s where we come in. Because the Affiliate Ad Network (AAN) serves the ads directly, the resultant website behavior is considered first-party data. This approach complies with emerging privacy and tracking policies. This first-party data approach to tracking is secure because none of your data is shared with unrelated third parties. With AAN, users have complete control over their data and can combine it with other customer data to create even richer and more insightful profiles of customer's behavior.

In a world without third-party cookies, you’ll need the right tools, paired with a robust marketing strategy that will not only help you survive but will allow your business to thrive.

This post was written in collaboration with Corrin Bauer.