How Health and Fitness Brands Can Prepare for the Cookie-less World in the New Normal

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By: Wise Marketer Staff |

Posted on August 25, 2020

With gyms and workout studios across the nation closing their doors, limiting occupants, and instilling new rules to enter (i.e., wearing a mask or making a reservation), it’s no doubt people’s health and fitness routines have shifted over the past few months. Amidst the current pandemic, most Americans have moved their gym to their home, opening up opportunities for key fitness brands to take advantage of this “at-home workout revolution”.

By: Amanda Lisak, Account Director, PMG

Peloton, known for its high-end spin bike, treadmill, and digital app, saw a 66% increase in sales and an uptick in their subscriber base during lockdown. This is just one of the many at-home fitness companies seeing a benefit from the pandemic. While this trend puts more eyes on these brands, the inevitable shift to a cookie-less world will pose obstacles when it comes to promoting their products.

Fitness requires personalization

Similar to retail shopping, one’s fitness journey is personal, and as a result, consumers crave that personal touch. They want advertisers to meet them where they’re at and understand their progression over time. Think of it this way — when you meet your trainer each time, you expect them to base the routine on your fitness level at the start of each workout. Gradually, they’ll be able to train you more effectively because they know how you’ve evolved. The same goes for such advertisers. Every touchpoint is key, as is the messaging, and cookies have been a critical component in understanding this unique journey for every individual. If brands can’t get this right, they risk aversion from new and even current customers.

Cookies make all the difference

So how, in this digital-first, at-home world can brands reach consumers in a way that motivates them to engage, and even more, purchase their product? As digital media moves into a “cookie-less” world, knowing how to customize without cookies will be the new challenge advertisers face. More than ever, the reliance on publishers’ first-party data will be used to reach target audiences, and as such, audiences risk viewing less-customized creative. Take this example below.

With cookies:
Susie visits Spin-a-Lot’s website, where she is searching for a new spin bike for her home. She watches one video on the website explaining the features of this bike. She then heads over to YouTube, where she is served a video ad about Spin-a-Lot’s on-demand classes she can subscribe to, hopefully aiding in her decision to purchase the bike.

Without cookies:
Susie visits Spin-a-Lot’s website, where she is searching for a new spin bike. She watches one video on the website explaining the features of this bike. She then heads over to YouTube, where she is served a video ad about the features of the bike, similar to what she already saw on their website.

Without following Susie’s journey across the web (i.e., without cookies), Spin-a-Lot is faced with the challenge of delivering a less-personalized message to a new customer. As advertisers navigate this change, getting smart with creative will help omit redundant ads being shown to their target audiences.

Getting smart with creative

Here are a few recommendations to combat this obstacle when planning:

  • Launch content in a phased approach to help tell stories over time.
  • Take advantage of 6- and 15-second placements and look to focus on frequency. Like the 6-second ad, shorter content has been proven to stick and drive lift in ad recall.
  • Re-think owned platforms and how you communicate to consumers who are logged in. Once a consumer is logged in, advertisers know their behavior and usage patterns. Take advantage of this and create custom creative and content for these customers. It will make them feel like you are speaking directly to them, instead of the masses.

Change is coming

In all, as brands look to reach new and current consumers, their creative strategy, particularly that of video, is one they’ll need to perfect. Video provides advertisers the opportunity to give a glimpse of what their service can provide to consumers. While the environments of where such content lives won’t change, how consumers are reached will evolve. As cookies slowly disappear, advertisers will need to learn to adjust their targeting strategies and be at the forefront as targeting methods change over time. Gone are the days of retargeting a user with the same message over and over again, but this will garner even more attention on attribution methods and how advertisers will measure digital media. As the industry continues to shift, health and fitness advertisers will need to be open to change as well.