Cookie monsters or helpers?

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In public relations looking through data, measuring statistics, and tracking consumer demand is a huge component to planning and implementing campaigns.

How would you even begin to justify a budget for a campaign video without a small history of how video content has become a preferred source of information?

You simply couldn’t.

Well, you could, but then you would just be throwing vague statements out there, such as, “I have been watching a lot more videos lately on Facebook, and I think it’s because the algorithm changed in favour of viral videos and quick news bites. As a full-time employee who only gets a small amount of time in between work, exercising, seeing friends, blogging, and doing house work I don’t like watching long videos. If I apply the same logic onto our target demographic of full-time business managers they are going to have so much more on their plate. Therefore I think if we keep the video to 30 seconds and share it around lunch time I’m sure our audience will watch it and appreciate the short bite we have to say about our company”.

Cringe.

Without even realising we have quickly become reliant on Big Data and what technology can do for us on a campaign side of a B2B or B2C relationship. Quicker than what we can handle, even, because there is still so much untouched, or “raw”, data we haven’t analysed. We depend on numbers, click-through-rates, page views, shares, likes, love’s, haha’s, wow’s, sad’s, and angry’s to tell the story of what certain consumers think of our content and key message – as well as when and where they view it.

And it is mostly done through cookies.

You may have noticed little banner messages at the top or bottom of your computer or mobile screen saying, “We use cookies… close and accept”.

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What are cookies?
Cookies are messages your web browser (Chrome, Safari, Firefox) sends to a web server (Lonely Planet, Contently, eBay).

There are different types of cookies, meaning they can send different types of information back to the web server. Consumers can control the information being sent to web browsers by limiting or forbidding a web browser to send cookies back to the web server.

What do they do?
When a cookie, or message, is sent to the server about a web page you have landed on it identifies you as a user and suggests other web pages you may like to personalise your experience.

For example, if I were to go on Contently and read an article about SEO I may scroll through my Facebook newsfeed and see sponsored articles with “related” blog posts about SEO techniques and algorithms.

How does this impact businesses? 
Personalisation and user experience is key for a business’ online presence. There is a great article by McKinsey & Company with a modern marketing example following a mother purchasing yoga pants for herself, having a blog post about keeping an active and healthy lifestyle reminding her of the purchase, and then receiving a push notification a couple of days later alerting her of a 15% off sale where she makes another online purchase.

Lead generation, personalisation, and nurturing the customer journey goes beyond a click and check out or log-on log-off experience. It creates a relationship between your brand and customers founded on a two-way model of communication constantly updated through cookies. Resources spent profiling target markets are reduced significantly and accuracy is improved making your job in marketing/communications a lot easier – thank you little cookie helpers!

Why may a consumer feel uneasy about cookies and block them? 
It can feel as if you’re being followed! Not everyone is going to like how stalkerish their favourite brands can be, but then that is the sign of a good integrated campaign. When a consumer has a buying pattern of new clothes for the weekend you as a business want to be the first ones on their list to click. If they see you first your targeting demo- and psychographics are on the mark.

But then cookies can also be embarrassing. I haven’t connected my Netflix account to our Smart TV because I don’t want my house mates seeing how many RomComs and historical period dramas I really consume.

Why am I only just seeing references to cookies now? 
Businesses are required to tell you if they are accessing your information. How many times did you search ASOS for Saturday nights’ outfit only to scroll through Facebook and see an ad for a dress on eBay that looks almost identical? Yep, that’s what I thought. It’s the same with holidays. Looking up jumpers? Why not fly to somewhere warm for under $200 and escape the cool instead? Genius!

There are countless conversations held over coffee with friends trying to justify impulse shopping because you couldn’t get those earrings you saw out of mind (or were you just surrounded by sponsored advertisements?). Depending on your shopping addiction and the contents of your wallet those cookies can be monsters.

We are a generation that wants things on demand, in the now, who are driven by purpose and want to be a part of something bigger than ourselves. We don’t have time to be searching too long for something in store when we can be cooking dinner and purchasing next week’s groceries at the same time from home.

You would think anyone would be excited about all of this technology enabling businesses to show you clothes, travel destinations, or blog posts specific to your current needs, right?

Nope. Not everyone likes being tracked, but we expect a seamless experience when it comes to purchasing goods and services…

So are they cookie monsters or helpers?

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