A Tactical Approach To A Cookieless Campaign

Time to prepare—Google Chrome will no longer support third-party cookies.

June 23, 2022

A cookieless world is right around the corner. By 2023, Google Chrome will no longer support third-party cookies – and hotel marketers must be prepared.

In parts one and two of this series, we talked about the anatomy of a cookie and how marketers can collect the three pillars of data to effectively target travelers: hashed emails, first-party cookies and historical booking data. But it’s time to get tactical. In this piece, we dive into how marketers can use that data to deploy multichannel campaigns that can build better relationships with travelers and capture revenue streams from direct bookings.

Marketers will need a number of tools and tactics in their quivers to create cookieless campaigns. Real-time and historical data, machine learning tools and a multichannel marketing strategy will be the recipe for success, and it all hinges on first-party data.

First, let’s do a quick refresh on first-party data and how hotel marketers can acquire that information. Hashed emails are anonymized email address IDs that can be tracked across sites. Hotel marketers can incentivize customers to provide email addresses, turn those into hashed IDs and use those IDs to market to them across the customer journey.

First-party cookie IDs collect information about travelers on a hotel website, such as language preferences and activity. These IDs can be shared with marketing partners to match onsite activity to hashed email IDs. Historical booking data, such as past stays or amenities booked, mixes in both online and offline activity to create a more complete traveler profile.

Hotel marketers can activate these three datasets across a variety of channels to reach travelers at the right place and the right time. Here’s our tactical approach for capturing cookieless direct bookings.


Laying the targeting groundwork

The first step to deploying a successful multichannel campaign is ensuring the right addressable and contextual targeting tactics are in place. Addressable targeting is targeting people that are in the hotel audience. They may still be anonymous users, but marketers know something about them. For example, hotel marketers can retarget a traveler who once booked a facial at the spa.

The demise of third-party cookies requires marketers to change addressable targeting tactics, and that’s where hashed emails, first-party cookie IDs, and historical booking data become important. These three pillars of data are what allow addressable targeting to continue once the cookie is gone.

Once addressable advertising is dialed, marketers can then expand contextual targeting efforts across channels to deliver appropriate ads that resonate with potential travelers.

Contextual targeting looks at the category or keywords of the page being viewed by the user and the ad server serves ads that are highly relevant to the content on the site. For example, if someone is searching for tourism ideas in Florence, then they are interested in visiting Italy. With that information, marketers can serve up relevant ads for hotel stays to help them with their search.

The technology, partner and channel toolbox

Contextual programmatic ads, search engine marketing (SEM), connected TV (CTV), social media and metasearch will drive cookieless demand for travel marketers in the future.

Metasearch is one of the most effective ways to capture first-party data and drive direct bookings. Metasearch sites such as Trivago, Kayak, Skyscanner, Tripadvisor and Google Hotel Ads consolidate rates from multiple booking channels. Travelers can search real-time hotel pricing for their preferred dates in one single view–and the path to purchase leads directly to the hotel website. Contextual programmatic ads automatically match promoted messaging to relevant content while CTV ads allow hoteliers to connect with potential travelers in a large-screen, highly engaged environment.  

In addition, new machine learning tools that support identity-free targeting based on common interests, such as Google FLOC, are currently being tested. Partners often gain early access to these new solutions, and working with those partners can give hotel marketers an edge over the competition.

Whichever channel hotel marketers choose, data underpins every tool. By collecting the right first-party data and using it alongside the right tools and tactics, such as metasearch and machine learning models, hoteliers can stitch together traveler profiles across channels. From there they can deliver relevant, third-party cookie-free ads that boost direct bookings.

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