The impending demise of cookies will alter the face of marketing forever. As it stands, cookies underpin a core element of advertising strategy: tracking and targeting individual users across the internet to ensure you’re reaching your desired audience. Now, Google announced in late July that they wouldn’t be axing cookies from Google Chrome until 2024, giving the advertising industry some breathing space to continue putting alternate identity solutions through their paces.
But the truth is that we still need to be acting now. Huge numbers of users are already ‘cookie-less’ – whether because they use Apple devices, privacy-centric browsers such as Firefox or Brave, or simply because they’re opting out when they open a website. We reached out to our Publisher members to understand what advertisers and agencies should be doing right now to prepare for the deprecation of cookies, to ensure your strategies are ready for the future of online privacy and identity.
The demise of the third-party cookie is far from the only headwind currently affecting marketers. With browsers cracking down on user privacy, only 30% of the total web can be considered ‘addressable’ right now. And within this 30%, fraud, clickbait and bot-based traffic are rife.
Advertisers and agencies therefore need to consider how much of their audience is currently being missed, as well as how much budget is being wasted. Those who can build clearer, shorter and more transparent supply paths will have a competitive advantage; as well as those who prioritise trusted, scaleable partners for both performance and brand building. Waiting another two years to act is not an option.
Bedir Aydemir, Head of Audience and Data, News UK
Identify what’s most critical to your brand – do you need speed or accuracy?
Measurement is the key area that brands should give real thought to and begin testing as soon as possible. Results, especially CPAs, will be less granular than they have been, so advertisers should trial a variety of methodologies now to unearth what works best for their business in the long run.
A key consideration will be speed of analysis versus accuracy. Econometrics can often take time to pull through, but they do provide detailed results. If a business requires more agility, there may be alternative ad-server or web analytics solutions that offer an aggregated, broader view.
Trialling new measurement approaches now will save a lot of discomfort in the future.
Mark Halliday, Commercial Director of DAX, Global
Use Safari as a testing ground for new approaches.
Momentum has been strong with both advertisers and publishers making headway onboarding scalable solutions in preparation for the third-party cookie apocalypse. We have seen promising results from PPID through to unified IDs and seller defined audience solutions, so do not stop progressing, testing and learning from what is available in market. Where possible, start testing as soon as you can, moving away from dependency on third-party cookies. Use Safari browsers as your testing ground to analyse and develop both in-market and your own unique solutions. The delay to the demise has only given us an opportunity to be well prepared for it; from contextual through to one-to-one user targeting and retargeting. As long as we are all aiming for the same thing and that is to be ready, we will have it covered and solutions will be scalable.
Hannah Buitekant, Executive Director – Digital, Mail Metro Media
Collaborate with partners across the industry to test new solutions.
Advertisers and agencies should maintain open conversations with publishers and use this delay to take the time to thoroughly test a variety of solutions which already do not rely on third-party cookies. By doing this, they can understand the solutions that are most relevant to their success – be it how they target their desired audiences, or how they measure the impact of digital advertising – while giving themselves the opportunity to get ahead of the curve.
Kieran Lewis, Head of Commercial Product & Data, Bauer Media
Work with publishers to find alternate ways of reaching your audience
Brands and agencies need to audit partners and vendors to make sure first-party data is available for their campaigns.
They should also be researching and testing new ways of transacting with publishers in a post-third party cookie world and align themselves with partners who primarily leverage first-party data. This will help them tap into and test future looking strategies such as:
- working with premium publishers who have direct-to-consumer relationships, consented data, brand safe environments and strong antifraud policies.
- looking at new “1P” programmatic buying mechanisms such as Publisher Provided Signals and Seller Defined Audiences
- for brands and agencies with rich first-party data, they should test into authenticated buying and clean room relationships with premium publishers
Tim Westcott, Head of Data Intelligence & ARM, Conde Nast
Start looking at how you can rebuild your analytics dashboard on GA4.
Incisive Media is fortunate because it operates in specific B2B verticals, which means we have very limited exposure to the programmatic ecosystem and a rich database of first-party customer data to power our commercial solutions. The end of third-party cookies is a big unknown for us and our commercial partners and we have deployed GA4 tags onto our sites so we are ready for this change and can rebuild our analytics dashboards to continue delivering operational insight to the business. It’s obviously more difficult for our commercial products and we are working closely with agencies and commercial partners to both develop new solutions and adjust existing solutions that will remain compliant. It’s tricky when we are aiming at moving target.
Robin Shute, Operations Director, Incisive Media