As Google finally brings down the curtain on the cookie, Publicis’ Anil K. Pandit says it is time for significant changes and that brands have to earn customer data respecting consumer privacy.

In the ever-evolving landscape of digital advertising, the impending deprecation of third-party cookies in 2024 has sparked a seismic shift in the way brands approach audience targeting. Suddenly, first-party data (1PD) has emerged as the golden ticket, a treasure trove that advertisers must cultivate for sustained success. However, in a world where consumer privacy is paramount and data acquisition practices are under scrutiny, it is time for a radical change in perspective. The future lies in earning customer data, not acquiring it.

The premise

The cookieless era has begun and the traditional methods of data acquisition are poised to become obsolete. Consumers are becoming increasingly aware of their data's value and are demanding more control over how it is used. In this context, the shift towards earning customer data becomes not just a strategic move but a fundamental shift in ethos. Amidst this chaos, a beacon of opportunity emerges – a philosophy that transcends mere data collection.

Welcome to the era of ‘earning customer data’. It's a radical departure from the old playbook, a shift from ‘acquisition’ to ‘earnest collaboration’.

Points to consider

  1. Trust is the new currency: In an era where trust is the cornerstone of brand-consumer relationships, attempting to acquire data forcefully can erode the very foundation a brand is built upon. By fostering an environment of trust, where consumers willingly share their data, brands can establish a genuine connection that transcends transactional interactions. When consumers willingly part with their data, they're essentially saying, “I trust you.” Brands must honour this trust by creating safe spaces – digital sanctuaries where privacy reigns supreme.
  2. Transparency builds bridges: Transparency is no longer a buzzword; it's a necessity. Instead of deploying opaque data collection methods, brands should openly communicate their intentions and the value exchange proposition for the consumer. This transparency not only complies with evolving privacy laws but also positions the brand as a trustworthy steward of customer information. Transparency isn't a liability; it's an asset. Consumers appreciate honesty – they'll reward it with loyalty.
  3. Empowerment leads to engagement: Empowering consumers to control their data enhances their sense of agency and fosters engagement. Brands can implement tools and interfaces that allow users to customise their data-sharing preferences. This not only respects consumer privacy but also ensures that the data collected is accurate and relevant.
  4. The art of invitation: Imagine a virtual handshake, an invitation extended by the brand. “Dear Customer”, it says, “we value your data but we respect your autonomy”. Brands must foster an environment where consumers feel invited, not coerced. Opt-in mechanisms, clear consent forms, and respectful nudges replace aggressive data grabs.

Advantages of earning customer data

  1. Quality over quantity: When customers willingly provide data, it tends to be more accurate and up-to-date. This shift from quantity-focused acquisition to quality-focused earning ensures that brands have a more nuanced understanding of their audience, enabling personalised and targeted campaigns.
  2. Long-term relationships: Earning customer data is not a one-time transaction; it's the beginning of a relationship. By respecting privacy and establishing trust, brands can lay the foundation for long-term customer loyalty. This loyalty goes beyond mere transactions – it extends to advocacy and positive word-of-mouth.
  3. Adaptability in the face of privacy regulations: The regulatory landscape surrounding consumer data is evolving rapidly. By earning data through consensual means, brands position themselves as proactive and adaptable entities that can navigate the intricacies of privacy laws without compromising their core strategies.
  4. Compliance harmony: Consent-driven data aligns with privacy laws. Brands become guardians, not intruders.
  5. Holistic insights: Earning data unveils holistic consumer portraits. It's not just demographics or email IDs or mobile numbers; it's desires, fears and dreams, interests and preferences.

The way forward

To embrace the philosophy of earning customer data, brands and marketers must:

  • Educate consumers: Inform customers about the value of their data and the benefits they stand to gain by sharing it willingly. Education builds awareness and contributes to the creation of a more informed and engaged customer base.
  • Enhance value exchange programs: Develop innovative and enticing value exchange programs that motivate consumers to willingly share their data. Whether through exclusive access, personalised experiences, or tangible rewards, the value exchange should be clear and compelling.
  • Invest in CRM and CX: Strengthen CRM and CX strategies to foster ongoing engagement. A robust CRM system allows brands to maintain a continuous dialogue with customers, ensuring that the earned data remains relevant and actionable. As per IDC, 86% of buyers are willing to pay more for a great customer experience and 49% of buyers have made impulse purchases after receiving a more personalised experience. And all such purchases are occasions to ‘earn’ your data and not just ‘collect’ mobile or email IDs.
  • Collaborate across silos: Marketing, tech, legal unite! Earning data is a team sport.


In the post-cookie era, the seismic shift towards earning customer data is not just a strategic imperative but a call for a new ethos in digital advertising. By placing trust, transparency, and empowerment at the forefront, brands can build stronger, more authentic connections with their audience.

The era of acquiring data is fading and the era of earning customer data is dawning, heralding a future where advertisers and consumers coexist harmoniously in a landscape defined by mutual respect and shared value. It's time for the industry to not just adapt but to evolve and embrace this new paradigm with open arms.

‘Earning’ your own data can help you future-proof your own marketing efforts.