The digital advertising solarcoaster is a wild ride—trends constantly change and target audiences are increasingly elusive. In the residential solar industry, dependence on the effectiveness of digital advertising is unavoidable for fast-growing companies.
But the rules are changing again. Recently, Apple made changes in Safari—the default browser on Apple devices—that change a cookie’s lifetime, altering a tool that many in the solar industry rely on for effective digital advertising. In this article, we’ll look at how this change is likely to impact marketing and advertising efforts of residential solar dealers, installers, and EPCs.
Cookies have been a vital part of digital advertising since the advent of the internet. They are small data files that are stored on users' devices when they visit a website and are used to track user behavior and enable ad targeting. Cookies are categorized based on their duration and are either session- or persistent-based. Session cookies are deleted when a user closes their browser, while persistent cookies remain on the user's device for a specified period. Persistent cookies have allowed advertisers to retarget and track conversions in the target audiences.
Now in 2023, Apple has been secretly quashing workarounds to third-party cookies, most recently by disabling third-party cookies cloaked as first-party generated after seven days. This means third-party retargeting and conversion tracking are no longer possible one week after the last touch with a user.
Solar companies will need to invest heavily in first-party data collection and analysis. First-party data is data that is collected directly from the customer. By investing in internal data collection and analysis, solar companies can reduce reliance on third-party cookies for ad targeting and personalization, as well as better understand their customers' preferences and behavior.
Additionally, solar advertisers may begin to focus more on contextual advertising. Contextual advertising involves targeting ads based on the content of the website or page being viewed. For solar companies, contextual advertising could target websites and pages that contain solar-related content related to renewable energy, sustainability, or climate change.