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Prepare for a cookieless future in life sciences marketing by adopting 1st party data

24 Feb 2022

An in-depth understanding of healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients is essential for life sciences marketers to create target audiences and segments. Typically, the data needed for developing this understanding was obtained either through 3rd party cookies collected by data providers or through 1st party data collected by life sciences companies based on the consent provided by the users. The 3rd party cookies helped life sciences, marketers, to enrich and personalize the promotional content and deliver it to HCPs and patients through programmatic or behavioral targeted advertising. The 3rd party data is also important for channel attribution as it helps life sciences marketers assess the ROI or value of the various channels, they used for connecting with the HCPs and patients.

What's Changing

However, starting in 2023, there will be big changes in the way user data is collected. Recently, Google announced to phase out third-party cookies in chrome browser by 2023, which accounts for more than half of the global web traffic. Similarly, browsers like Safari & Firefox have already discontinued this type of data tracking which makes this reform a big deal for digital marketing. Going forward, any 3rd party data provider will have to take explicit permission from users for collecting or sharing any data generated from their digital interactions. This means that life science marketers will have to rely heavily on 1st party data to reach out to their audience.

But what are the key changes that life sciences marketers will have to make in their operating model to fill the void left by the absence of 3rd party cookies? Are life sciences organizations aptly positioned to make the most of the 1st party data? How can life sciences marketers deliver the same level of personalization and customer experience through 1st party data?

The good news is that life sciences marketers are not new to life without 3rd party cookies. In the past, they have often relied on non-cookie-based avenues to drive reach and engagement, such as contextual placements and sponsorships on endemic sites. As 3rd party data gets phased out, 1st party or self-curated data can become the new lifeline for the future of life sciences marketing. However, this requires life sciences marketers to have a well-planned customer data platform (CDP) and data analytics strategy that can deliver on the promises that 1st party data has to offer in shaping the future of life sciences marketing.

1st party data can be defined as the data directly collected by a company from the user. This data comprises website visits and corresponding actions taken and behaviors, data from the CRM, social media followers, subscription lists, sales interactions, customer feedback, etc. The benefits of 1st party data are numerous:

  • Fewer privacy concerns surrounding 1st party data: The owner and collector of such data have complete control of inputs, and all customer information is scrubbed and curated in a secure environment and protected by encryption. This is a vital reason why 1st party data is extremely compliant with data privacy regulations.

    Yields valuable audience insights and predicts future behavioral patterns: 1st party data gives marketers unique and specifically identifiable information about their customers (Such as devices, channels, browsers, and behavior all tied into a customer ID). This leads to a deeper understanding of the customers, as well as a relevant and accurate way to reach out to them with recommendations. Over time, as the customer profile data enriches, it generates more granularity and detail and provides behavioral analysis and decision likelihoods.

    Delivers relevant customer experience: By creating a unified customer view, marketers get the ability to deliver brand messaging that is specific to their target segments and customers. This data also enables customer journey mapping, so that marketing triggers are sent to customer profiles at certain points to enable meaningful interactions.

A customer data platform (CDP) is used for unifying or collecting all the data in a central place. A CDP can identify customers from many different data sources by stitching together information under a unique, individual identifier.

CDPs give marketers control over customer data collection, segmentation, and orchestration through native (out-of-the-box) integrations that minimize the need for primary data entry. Further, CDPs offer data integration of both known and anonymous customer data with any external source or platform, including CRM, point of sale (POS), mobile, transactional, website, email, and marketing automation. Life science marketers and other users can run analyses and leverage the CDP data to attract new customers as well as retain and engage existing ones

Resultingly, CDP solutions offer key benefits that help in quick and relevant marketing across multiple channels

For commercial outcomes, this means smarter and effective marketing, which is data compliant, has customer consent, and also is highly relevant and personal. Marketers can reduce wasteful advertising spending and boost profits. CDPs provide insights into customer interests, purchase intent, and attrition, along with channel engagement and where they are in the customer journey lifecycle. With this level of insight, CDPs help marketers attract higher-quality leads (i.e., potential customers likely to convert) and optimize their marketing spend while reducing the delivery of unrelated messaging and ads which are not relevant.

With data curation and augmentation via CDP solutions, life sciences marketers can become future-ready as they reduce their dependence on external data. However, for achieving this quickly and more effectively, marketers must prepare now. Here are a few focus areas on which marketers must emphasize so that they deliver meaningful messages to their target audiences -

  • Improve first-party owned data collection: Marketers should invest in data collection capabilities for their owned media (offline i.e., surveys, events, and conferences, and online i.e., websites, email, and display). By integrating comprehensive data management strategies across various channels and content formats, marketers will be in a better position to continue to actively build and deliver robust consumer experiences.

    Enrich collected data: Brands must operate on existing data inflows and focus on augmenting customer data generated across several channels. Features such as Identity resolution and profile augmentation will become the center of all marketing communications to targeted audiences.

    Build with trust:The elimination of third-party cookies opens up a valuable opportunity for marketers to re-establish trust with their target consumers. Consumer consent and privacy-first approaches for all data collection and tracking activities are the pillars of building consumer trust and transparency. By design and approach of data collection and encryption, CDP solutions prevent leakage and loss of private data - assuring marketers and end consumers that the data collection and distribution happens in a secure and compliant environment. .

Moving forward, in the post-cookie world it will be important for life sciences marketers to quickly establish relevance and trust with their HCP audiences. As a world without 3rd party data approaches fast, marketing leaders can drive strong customer-centric strategies by adopting CDPs. A direct impact on increased engagement and customer loyalty will be crucial for wins in the cookie-less future. And those who approach this with a core customer-centric and privacy-first view - incorporating 1st party data into their overarching marketing strategies today, will be future ready.


Sharanjit Singh
Sharanjit Singh
Akhil Mahajan
Akhil Mahajan