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Preparing For A Cookie-Less World

by Katie Arthur | 19.04.2021

One of the biggest issues currently facing the marketing world is the demise of third-party cookies. Marketers will be forced to change the way they utilise their first party data, whilst many solutions to this are still unknown. Yet as Asher Gordon, Tug’s Head of Paid Media, noted in his Campaign Performance 360 talk with Vivienne Mackinnon, Head of Marketing at Zipcar,  the cookie is over 25 years old and is due an update.  

Why are third-party cookies being phased out?

Why is a cookieless future happening? The cookie is now seen as an outdated solution for today’s privacy-conscious users. Over recent years we have seen data regulation increase through GDPR in the EU and CCPA in California, alongside web browsers and tech companies like Firefox and Apple steering away from the use of cookies. Google is the latest tech company to remove 3rd party cookies from their browser (Chrome), forcing smaller vendors and publishers to follow suit and provide more privacy to individuals.  

Whilst there was initial panic within the industry, many advertisers would now agree that this shift in how users are targeted is ultimately a good thing. As mentioned by Asher Gordon, it will force brands to focus their efforts more towards the context within which they are advertising. A huge emphasis for brands will be the leveraging of first-party data and looking towards modelling-based attribution as a way of measuring value. Vivienne proposed the idea that brands will have to take a test and learn approach before they are fronted with the ideal solution, and even then, flexibility will be needed. 

The future of programmatic marketing is in first-party data

Many data-rich brands are now looking to use their first-party data to create their own programmatic capabilities, a trend we will likely see persist as the cookie continues to diminish. ASOS wants to sell the space around its content, both on-site and in-app, programmatically. Within the next five years, Disney also plans to automate over half of its ad business, from ESPN to Hulu. Disney is looking to combine its first-party data and advanced modelling capabilities under a single umbrella called Disney Select, allowing clients to buy over 1,000 segments through either programmatic or direct environments. 

CRM activity and trust

Vivienne suggested that the expansion of CRM activity will be crucial in targeting and converting one-off users to become more regular customers. She also highlighted trust as being a decisive component going forward. Customers now hold the power as to whether they opt-in or not and what data they are willing to share, so having the comfort and knowledge that their data will be used correctly and for their own advantage, to create more personalised advertising, is paramount.

Tech giants are racing to come up with an alternative to third-party cookies, with Google recently introducing FLoC, Federated Learning of Cohorts, which looks to cluster together large groups of people who appear to have similar interests, making individuals anonymous. Additionally, through FLEDGE, user information will be localised on their device rather than being shared over the web. The PPID (Publisher Provided Identifier) is another useful way for advertisers to increase their tracking capabilities in a cookieless world, though how this works with walled garden tech such as Google remains to be seen.

Despite some initial challenges to overcome, it is important to view this change in the advertising industry as an opportunity for performance marketers to reform their current approach to campaigns. The emphasis should always be on the customer and their experience, above all else. The key takeaway is not to panic and rush into any one solution, but to be open-minded and flexible to what the ‘new-normal’ might be.