Cookies Aren’t Just for Consumers: B2B Targeting in a Cookieless World

Over the past two months, we’ve talked at length about cookie deprecation, its impact on targeting and the consumer experience, and the solutions that are in development that will help address their loss. We’ve also touched on the steps that a brand can take today to prepare for 2022.  

One question hanging on the periphery of this discussion is “Yes, but how will this impact my business-to-business efforts? Why wouldn’t I just go industry-pub-direct or push messaging on LinkedIn as I’ve always done?”

The reality is, B2B efforts will be impacted by cookie loss just as much as B2C. 

The conventional truth about B2B prospecting efforts was that work happens in a specific place and at a specific time. But that is a little like saying a chef is only thinking of new recipes when they are in their kitchen. 

As we all know, 2020 changed everything. Dining room tables became offices, living rooms became classrooms, and nine-to-five was thrown out the window. Our homes became the center of our collective universes, and as a result, the clear line between “home” and “office” blurred like never before. 

When we all went into lockdown, new-platform adoption and media consumption evolved virtually overnight. Eighteen months ago, few people knew what Zoom was. Now it is a part of our shared lexicon. Listening to the radio in your car was replaced by streaming music over Alexa, and millions of people have expanded their streaming services beyond Netflix to include platforms like Peacock, HBO Max, and Disney+. 

This transformation is happening on the back end, too, as the media and ad tech industry are evolving extremely fast to keep up with changing consumer demands. New audiences, new inventory, new methods of measurement, and attribution. 

The lines between work and play and home have been demolished. All that is left are humans doing human things. Some of those humans just so happen to be key decision-makers for a business purchase. And importantly, we currently have the means to serve B2B messaging, those decision-makers in channels through advanced targeting and programmatic media buying. 

However, the advanced targeting required to find these audiences is currently built on cookies, and we all know what is coming on that front. 

Our counsel is the same with B2B audiences as it is with B2C: 

It is important to call out one major distinction with B2B audiences, in that major business purchases are likely made by a decision-making group rather than a single person. This decision-making group — what we at Ciceron refer to as Decision Profiles — is composed of people from across an organization, spanning various departments and levels of seniority, each with their own priorities, concerns, and definitions of success. When a brand is getting to know its target audience, it is crucial to understand this complicated matrix of influence and vary messaging and tactics accordingly. Outdated single-persona profiles simply no longer do the trick.

For example, a CFO will probably have ultimate sign-off on any business purchase, but will not be the one doing any of the heavy lifting required to vet potential partners. That role will generally fall to an LOB director tasked with evaluating all the options and bringing forward a recommendation. They need to feel supported by the vendors they are considering in order to make a confident, informed decision — and, ultimately, look good to their boss. 

Same product. Different audiences with different needs. Your target audience strategy and media plan must reflect those needs. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach. Third-party cookie data can power much of that target audience identification today, but won’t be around in the same way next year. 

This brings me back to the recommendations above. Use what you can today to really get to know your audience. Decision profile and customer journey work are essential to accomplishing this. While that work is being done, take the time to understand what data you own and what data you buy. And then determine a way to grow that data you own, while reducing your dependence on the data that you don’t. 

Now is the perfect time to start this work. Six months from now, it will be much, much harder. For more information on how Ciceron can help, click here or reach out to your Account Manager. We are ready to dive in.