The Virtual Event Evolution: The Sweetness of First-party Cookies

by / Sep 02, 2021

Since the start of the pandemic, B2B marketers have adjusted to social distancing, witnessed the rise of virtual events, and are now preparing for a cookieless future. For the third and final entry in our blog series on the virtual event evolution, we wanted to address how B2B organizations can use their events to strengthen their account-based marketing (ABM) strategies by collecting first-party data directly from the attendees.

B2B events are not the only thing transforming in 2021. ABM is evolving to meet the demands of the new frontier forged by the pandemic and the upcoming cookieless environment. Between the pandemic and forecast of third-party cookies vanishing from marketers’ toolboxes, B2B organizations are exploring new event-based ABM tactics. According to Marketing Profs, in a research study by ITSMA and ABM Leadership Alliance, 420 B2B marketers surveyed revealed that in response to the pandemic, 42% changed their ABM business objectives and incorporated new tactics that involve “virtual events, virtual meetings and webinars as part of their ABM strategy.” Before we dive into how virtual, in-person or hybrid events can enhance an ABM strategy, let’s recap what exactly is going on with cookies.

illustrated plate of cookies repeated until there are no cookies left on plate

Cookie-Free in 2023

In early 2020, Google announced it would be joining Safari and Firefox in their efforts to phase out the use of third-party cookies from their browsers. Recently, Google updated its cookie blocking deadline to mid-2023, revealing that the company’s Privacy Sandbox initiative needed more time to responsibly deploy in the ecosystem. With Safari and Firefox continuing to phase out third-party cookies and Chrome’s looming deadline, marketers sprinted back to their drawing boards to develop new targeting strategies.

First-party Cookies = Fresh and Delicious!

The announcement of the future blocking of third-party cookies by Google is a jarring declaration, but not a fatal blow for B2B marketers. In fact, this blockade will benefit B2B organizations in the long run by compelling B2B companies to collect data directly with first-party cookies that will organically create more targeted campaigns. To put it simply, first-party cookies are sweet treats for the domain / website owner to help track traffic and analytics.

For example, you are reading this blog on The Mx Group’s website (hi there!). As a result, we at The Mx Group are gobbling up first-party cookies that inform us on what pages you visited, where you clicked and what you might be interested in learning about The Mx Group. In return, the first-party cookies help you have a better user experience. On other websites, first-party cookies help you by remembering logins, language settings, profile information, items in your shopping cart, preferences and more.

one cookie does not equal another cookie

An Oatmeal Raisin Cookie You Thought Was Chocolate Chip

Third-party cookies are baked by outside domains / websites and are not owned by the primary website you are visiting. These cookies allow for cross-site trafficking and advertisements. The best examples of these cookies are found when you engage in online shopping. For instance, you are browsing Amazon in search of a new winter coat. During your search, you might also click on a pair of gloves and boots even though they will probably not end up in your shopping cart. Later that day, you find yourself scrolling through Instagram and advertisements begin appearing for the same pair of gloves and boots you visited earlier on Amazon. This is a result of third-party cookies retargeting the data.

As you can see from this example, third-party cookies might offer easy data, but not reliable information. You were in the market for just a coat. You didn’t need anything else, but now you could start to feel as if you are being spammed with useless ads. As B2B marketers look to embrace the booming virtual event industry, we should also look to strengthen our ABM strategies by collecting first-party data directly from the participants at our events.

cooking mixing tools and ingredients

Mix First-party Cookies With Hybrid Events and Intimate Audiences

We outlined in our previous blog posts in this series, The Virtual Event Evolution: The Future of Hybrid Events and The Intimate Audience Impact, that B2B marketers can use events to gather reliable data from registration to individual touchpoints across the attendee’s journey. Marketers can easily see what sessions an attendee visited, what content they downloaded and engaged with during the event, and what insights they shared on post-event surveys. In addition, by embracing more intimate sessions, B2B organizations can create more targeted campaigns full of relevant material that will create a larger impact for the ABM strategy. In fact, marketers can go as far as hosting additional sessions, roundtables or think tanks directly targeted at specific accounts, creating a personalized experience.

While third-party cookies do offer some advantages, they are not nearly as reliable as first-party cookies and personal connections

By tracking attendee behavior throughout the course of the event, B2B marketers can utilize first-party cookies to strengthen ABM tactics. Authentic connections and relevant personalization are organically developed with dependable data. The campaign messages will resonate with attendees and foster a continued relationship with the content. While third-party cookies do offer some advantages, they are not nearly as reliable as first-party cookies and personal connections. B2B buyers are in search of organizations that greet them with authenticity, an innate understanding of their businesses, and relevant content strategies. The new data privacy protection initiatives will only pave the path forward to more targeted opportunities for partnership.

The Mx Group

B2B Insights, Staff Writer

The Mx Group is the second-largest independent, integrated B2B marketing agency in the U.S., with a mission to impact the marketplace for companies that impact the world. For over 30 years, we’ve created meaningful end-to-end buying experiences for B2B brands. Our clients are leaders and innovators in automotive, financial services, food, health care, legal services, oil and gas, industrial, packaging, trade associations, technology and SaaS who rely on our expertise to influence and grow their businesses. Our relationships with our clients and people are why B2B Marketing recognized us as Agency of the Year. Our headquarters are in Chicago, but our reach is global. Whether a client is an established or startup B2B brand, we have the people and perspective to be a strong partner that makes a difference.