Auto companies need a first-party data strategy

Every winter, the holidays take many of us by surprise. The Yuletide season arrives the same time each year — we know it’s coming — and yet we annually find ourselves at the last possible moment raiding the shopping malls and scouring the Internet in the frantic search for gifts.

Many in the automotive industry have subconsciously pushed another essential date to the back burner: July 1, 2023, the day Google is set to officially crumble the third-party cookie.

We knew this day was coming as far back as when the General Data Protection Regulation went into effect in the European Union in May 2018. The writing became clearer on Jan. 1, 2020, when the California Consumer Privacy Act was signed into law. Google itself delayed the elimination of third-party cookies last year (and two times more before that), but I promise you, the day is coming. And that day is July 1, 2023.

On this day, those who have not developed a first-party data strategy bolstered with a customer data platform will instantly see scale drop significantly. Imagine your door suddenly closed to thousands of current and potential customers. All the time you spent curating and communicating with potential car buyers suddenly skids to a jolting halt.

The automotive industry is especially vulnerable because digital marketing has become such a valuable tool to connect with people, drive conquests, customize offers and deliver the personalized, relevant messaging that people expect from you. What will you do now?

Most in the auto industry are taking the appropriate measures to not only address the challenges of July 1, 2023, seamlessly, but also improve return on investment with new technology driven by first-person data. You have likely heard of customer data platforms, software that pulls data from multiple sources and creates a unified customer database that is accessible to other systems. The technology is great, but it’s just a start to entering this brave new world of digital marketing.

A customer data platform isn’t a plug-it-and-forget-it solution. The quality of your data matters. The way that data is curated and managed matters. Privacy and regulations matter. The learning curve is sharp enough so that training an in-house marketing team to administer these new data roles is financially impractical and frustratingly time-consuming. That’s why it makes sense to trust an experienced first-party data manager. The stakes are too high to wing it.

The best time to implement this strategy was yesterday. The second-best time is now. The worst time is tomorrow. Because every day, July 1, 2023, gets 24 hours closer.

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