Personalisation beyond cookies: the social opportunity

By iGBA Editorial Team

  • Article summary

Operators and affiliates grappling with how to mitigate the loss of the personalised advertising options provided by third-party tracking cookies are overlooking the potential of social channels, writes Sharon McFarlane

While the deprecation of third-party cookies is undoubtedly a seismic change in the way marketers operate, the optimists among us view this as a massive opportunity in how we connect with customers.

Third-party cookies have been viewed by marketers as critical functionality since the 90s and are now woven into almost every online brand campaign.

So it is understandable that the change will strike fear in some quarters and poses important questions that urgently need to be addressed. These include how will we track users? How will we assess the success of our campaigns? How can we retarget or extend our reach?

Both affiliates and operators need to embrace the challenge and find new ways to engage their audiences. We’re working with several clients to help them with the transition, and social media is being used as one of the key tactics within campaign planning.

What are third-party cookies anyway? 

I will keep this as brief as possible. Third-party cookies are generated by a website other than the one you are visiting. The advantage of third-party cookies is that they allow the owner of a website to track how users interact with it, which can be helpful for improving how it looks and functions. However, third-party cookies also raise privacy concerns because they can be used to track browsing activity without the user’s explicit consent. Because of this, some websites opt to disable third-party cookies altogether, or limit their use in certain circumstances.

The main privacy concern with third-party cookies is they may not be clearly labelled as such, which could lead users to believe they are being tracked when they are not. Another potential concern is that third-party cookies may collect personally identifiable information, such as your IP address, device ID, browser type, etc., which could be used by advertisers and other third parties to target you with personalised advertising which is the main reason for the change.

This time it’s personal

We believe personalised marketing is key when looking to connect with your audience, especially if you are an affiliate working across multiple niches. It does require additional effort in terms of planning and strategy, however it will bring in a much better return on investment in terms of time and cost.

When implemented correctly, you should be targeting your audience more effectively using your collected data. This includes segmenting the audience upon lead capture, and as part of your ongoing marketing efforts. When the appropriate funnels are put in place, you are much less likely to have drop-offs or a disengaged audience when pushing out content.

This personalised approach will ensure your users only see content that is relevant to them, which means they are much more likely to engage with the content you put out – and in turn convert. For example, if they have recently joined 10 sportsbook sites, providing them with casino operator content/offers is more likely to make them switch off than lead to a conversion.

Keeping them engaged is also an integral part of your ongoing marketing strategy – especially if you are an affiliate with a large number of partnerships operating on a revenue share or hybrid model. You need to make sure that your audience is captive and maintains their interest in any activity.

As you can see, personalised marketing is a key part of your marketing success.

Using social media to your advantage

When we think of personalisation, many people think of mailer campaigns or SMS marketing. However, social media is currently underutilised by affiliates when it comes to personalisation.

The first thing that is key is understanding the typical demographics of each social media channel you are posting content on and personalising and making this native to their design/creator studios for maximum reach. Once you understand this, there are some great tactics you can use to deliver personalised marketing campaigns.

There are poll/survey functionalities in place on social media channels that can be great for collecting data. Are you unsure about the kind of content you think your target audience would like you to post? Ask them. You can present them with options and segment data based on the results that come through. You will be surprised the number of prospective players who will give you feedback on what they want.

This is when you can start to segment your audience according to the type of content they want. Do they want more tips for betting? Do they want to see more offers and promotions? Or do they want to be more educated on brands, strategies or other information? Use this to inform future campaigns.

User-generated content is also a fantastic way to not only collect more information to further personalise campaigns, but to engage the user on social media and provoke a response. Did you know that user-generated content receives 2.4 times more engagement than regular content? That is why some of the most successful affiliates are those that promote “players choice” on their homepage based on collecting their opinion. It makes the customer feel valued and cared for. When they speak, you listen!

The type of content posted is also important. Do they respond more to images? Text? Experience and data would suggest they are most likely to engage with video than any other content – 60 times more likely, in fact. That should be front of mind when creating any solid social media strategy.

Geographical location can also play a big part in how you personalise the messaging. It could be that you have separate accounts for the major countries you are targeting for organic content. Facebook allows you to serve your unpaid content to specific geo locations, which could be worth considering depending on the markets/areas you are working in.

When it comes to paid ads, you can of course be much more specific in targeting across all social media channels. There are lots of regulatory hoops to jump through to become an approved igaming advertiser, but once approved you can target based on interest group, location, gender etc. to send your messaging out direct to the customer.

Analyse and evaluate 

You should always be looking to improve your campaigns, which is why it is essential you have the right analytical tools in place to see what is working for you and what is not. Ensure whoever is responsible for your social media has it as a deliverable to report on the data and to work towards KPIs on engagement and conversion.

There is so much granular information that can be collected from social media insights that you will be able to tailor your strategy to work for you.

If you are worried about what the demise of third-party cookies means for you and your affiliate brand, try and look at it as a positive and an opportunity for you to work towards a more effective and efficient marketing strategy.


Sharon McFarlane

is managing director at Glasgow-based Digital Footprints, a digital marketing agency specialising in content marketing, social media, UX design, website design, branding and conversion rate optimisation.

Image by Joseph Mucira from Pixabay

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