The long awaited “cookie-less future” is now officially on our doorstep, where Google started to restrict third-party cookies by default for 1% of users, with the goal of eliminating the use of third-party cookies for all Chrome users by Q3 2024, (August).

Not all businesses in the MENA region are ready for this shift and by now they would have noticed growing data discrepancies, with Google Analytics, appearing inaccurately low.

The deprecation of the 3rd party cookie, leading to the rise of first party data for the purpose of fuelling AI algorithms, are reshaping marketing strategies in 2024 and beyond.

Data-driven marketing strategies leverage AI algorithms to analyze consumer behavior and preferences, enabling businesses in MENA to tailor their messaging with accuracy and work together with machine learning to generate customized insights, tailored to specific needs and goals of their business.

As AI becomes more prominent, the importance of consented data grows, highlighting the need for marketers to prioritize the collection and analysis of first-party data. Tools like Performance Max, discovery ads, and predictive analytics require all privacy components to be in place and triggered for optimal functionality.

Google has developed GA4 with privacy as a core focus, aligning with the industry’s shift towards more privacy-centric practices, but also left many businesses in MENA on it’s back foot with a minimum viable product set up and confusion on the impact of not prioritizing 1st party data collection in a consented manner.

Privacy concerns taking center stage and consent management are rapidly gaining importance globally, driven by regulations such as the GDPR and Digital Markets Act (DMA) in Europe. Middle East business owners might feel that this holds no bearing on them, but even if your properties do not target European consumers, the regulatory environment is likely to impact how Google ranks websites, potentially favoring those that comply with data collection rules.

Consequently, marketers must adapt their strategies to ensure compliance for the purpose of maintaining effective marketing campaigns while respecting user privacy.

Here are some essential steps for marketers to action now as we enter this “cookie-less world”:

1. Prioritize collecting and use of First-Party Data:

First-party data becomes the new gold standard for marketers. Focus on collecting and analyzing data directly from your audience through interactions with your website, emails, and other owned channels. This data is more reliable and privacy-friendly than third-party data, and by prioritizing the gathering and analysis of first-party data, businesses can gain valuable insights into their audience’s preferences and behaviors without infringing on their privacy.

Establish a seamless integration of your offline data into your online operations in order to gain a more holistic view of your customer’s behavior, and allow for the algorithms to learn from this trustworth data set.

2. Leverage Privacy-Compliant Technologies:

Explore AI-driven solutions that analyze browsing patterns without storing personal information. This allows for personalized experiences while safeguarding user privacy.

3. Ensure Transparency and Consent:

Be upfront with consumers about how their data is collected, processed, and utilized. Provide clear opt-out mechanisms to empower users and build trust.

4. Focus on Content and Community Building:

In a cookie-less world, building meaningful relationships with customers is more important than ever. Instead of relying solely on targeted ads, marketers should invest in creating high-quality content and fostering engaged communities around their brands. By delivering value and fostering genuine connections, businesses can cultivate loyalty and advocacy among their audience, driving long-term success.

To finish this off, I would like to point out that this shift towards a cookie-less world presents not only challenges but should be seen as an opportunity for marketers. By embracing privacy-first strategies, prioritizing first-party data, and leveraging innovative technologies, businesses can navigate this new terrain successfully learning more about their customers, whilst fostering trust and respect with their audience. In the era of digital marketing, privacy is not just a compliance issue—it should be used as a competitive advantage in the MENA region.

If you are a business owner who is yet to make provisions for this dynamically changing marketing landscape, I strongly suggest you reach out to a data-driven marketing partner, like Incubeta who will help secure your future online existence.