Retail Media Explained: Connected Commerce for CPG Brands

What is Retail Media?

Retailers are becoming ad publishers by transforming their data and online platforms to sell valuable audience data along with advertising spots. Retail media buys can be executed on retailer sites or programmatically on social and display channels using retailer first party data. This data enables consumer brands to reach online shoppers by targeting ads based upon keyword searches, purchase history and other invaluable data collected via SKUs, purchase scans, and loyalty programs. 

The recent growth of retail media has been astronomical. Amazon Ads alone is expected to exceed $32B in revenue by 2023. Although many players are entering the market (Best Buy, Target, Kroger, WalMart etc.), Amazon still dominates with an estimated 76.2% of US ecommerce channel ad spending in 2021 (eMarketer). Brands are leaning into this trend with 76% of marketers planning to frequently utilize point of sale data in 2022. With the CPG clients I’ve worked with at Coegi, we recognized the emerging trend of retail media and made sure we were incorporating this must-have tactic into our connected commerce strategies.

Reach Your Customers Wherever They Are With Retail Media

Retail media advertising empowers brands to be exactly where your customers are and deliver personalized experiences on and offline. 

  • How can you reach customers in-store? 
  • Where can you reach them when shopping online? 
  • How can you reach audiences when they’re scrolling through socials? 

Retail media lets advertisers be more data-driven and provides a reliable targeting solution. Targeting these shopper audiences creates the opportunity to deliver an efficient, personalized experience. The icing on the cake (or should I say cookie?) is that most retail data is cookieless, so we are able to utilize it not only now, but into the future. 

With the landscape becoming increasingly cluttered, most CPG brands won’t have the budget to be present on every retail media platform, nor is that in their best interest. To make the most impact, brands need to research and test where their audiences are spending time so they can show up when and where it matters most. After making your selections, it’s also important to have unique strategies for each retailer. Your messaging and execution should look different on a Best Buy audience dataset versus a Wal-Mart audience. 

Connected Commerce Strategy

Connected commerce strategy is a concept developed by Skai. It means thinking about how you can connect all points of the customer commerce journey together. As retail media networks become more sophisticated, we are seeing more full-funnel implications. The Trade Desk reported that 39% of marketers surveyed use retail media advertising to drive brand equity scores and 44% use it to track sales growth. Take advantage of ecommerce site placements as well as programmatic placements to find prospecting audiences and track them through the funnel with closed-loop measurement. 

For example, you could target an upper funnel retail media audience on social and display and then bring those audiences through the funnel by serving them a retargeted ad when they are on Target.com actively shopping. Or, you could use Facebook conversion ads to drive to your Amazon product page and then utilize that Amazon traffic to develop a retargeting audience for those who did not convert. For best results, I recommend brands think about strategically flighting media together and not having standalone strategies with just retail media. Having supportive media across channels has proven to increase results for our clients at Coegi as compared to solely running onsite retail media buys. 

Additionally, we recommend utilizing Amazon as a point of discovery along with Google Paid Search. When people start researching products, almost 75% start with Amazon. They are exploring, reading reviews, and connecting information to make a purchase decision. It’s important to look at the whole ecosystem of commerce, which is now massive, and make sure all those pieces of the puzzle are connected. Understand what channels can help each other to incorporate a true connected commerce strategy. 

“Retail media presents retailers with an opportunity to better personalize their e-commerce sites, improve discoverability of products, and better monetize their first-party data. Likewise, it offers brands an opportunity to better reach their end customer and access more granular insights into marketing performance and effectiveness..”

Forrester Now Tech: Retail Media Solutions Q2 2021, Colin Colburn

How To Measure Retail Media Success

The primary drawback to retail media, currently, is the segmentation from publisher to publisher. Wal-Mart data lives in one silo, Target data lives in another, and so on. Marketers have to be very mindful of where to invest for maximum impact. Using a trial and error method to test and learn is necessary to see where your customers are responding because we do not see integration across channels like we are accustomed to with other programmatic media. 

When creating a retail media measurement strategy, look to outside partners who can aggregate data sets from the multiple publishers you are working with and measure the impact from a big picture lens. Coegi works with partners so we can directly tag our in-market media and they can measure it back to UPC scan and sales level data showing the direct impact of media on sales. With these partners sitting on top of all the data, they can feed back real-time information so we can make informed optimizations and identify opportunities to improve business outcomes. 

“For marketers wanting to take full advantage of retail media’s potential for reshaping attribution, and their overarching strategies for guiding consumers through the purchase funnel — or true “closed-loop marketing” — managing across retail data environments will be key”  – The Trade Desk

A more sophisticated approach is needed to ensure every dollar is spent wisely and effectively. This advanced insight from media and measurement partners provides the competitive edge needed to maintain efficiency in this competitive market with rising costs and influx of demand. 

Key Takeaways

Retail media allows brands to: 

  • Utilize 1st party shopper data to reach customers wherever they are
  • Consider and understand the full shopper experience from discovery to purchase
  • Be data-driven and track closed-loop measurement, prioritizing cookieless solutions whenever available
  • Clearly understand the impact of ads on consumer behavior and sales 

At the end of the day, retail media is a must-have tactic for CPG brands, especially for challenger brands looking to break through the competition. Explore unique connected commerce strategies for your brand to maximize the impact of your media spend and drive customers through the purchase funnel with efficiency. 

Recommended Reading:

Improve AI Marketing Optimization Using the ‘Paperclip Maximizer’ Theory

Paperclip Maximizing: Machine Learning and the Problem of Instrumental Convergence

What do paperclips have to do with digital marketing? Admittedly, pretty much nothing. The ‘paperclip maximizer’ thought experiment comes from Nick Bostrom at Oxford University. In essence, it looks at the idea that if you tell a machine to optimize to a specific goal it will do so at all costs. If you told a machine to maximize the number of paperclips it produces the machine would eventually start destroying things like computers, refrigerators, or really anything made of metal to make more paper clips once other sources of metal run out. This concept has been coined as instrumental convergence. 

Paperclip vs Pay-per-click

If you transform the idea of paperclips into the idea of paying per click this becomes very relevant to digital marketing. Nowadays, almost every platform touts some version of AI or machine learning to revolutionize campaign performance, which is a boon to everyone. By releasing control to machines, media buyers can focus on more strategic tasks such as identifying deeper insights for reports and understanding clients’ goals while campaigns continuously improve themselves. They do this by finding and optimizing for what works while avoiding the things that are not driving performance for the brand. 

Defining Performance

What exactly is ‘performance?’ The easy answer is whatever your KPI may be. It could be clicks, it could be video views, it could be any trackable metric. However, this is already a simplified goal. If you are running a traffic campaign, the marketing goal should not just be to “get more clicks”. The goal should be something designed to move the needle for the business – brand affinity growth, sales lift, etc.  For instance, driving qualified users from a target audience to an advertiser’s website and increasing brand favorability is a strong goal. This is something bigger than a single metric. A KPI can be a stepping stone and an important indicator of success, but it is not the final objective. A truly successful campaign will not simply be the campaign that drove the most clicks at the cheapest price point. Success lies in the campaigns that drive true performance towards core business objectives.

What Machines Lack

Context. Context is something that a robot has not yet mastered. As a marketer, I know that increasing clicks, directionally, should push me closer to my goal. The machine knows this too, but this is all the machine knows. It will endlessly optimize to a single goal. Maximizing the number of clicks given a fixed amount of budget. This can lead to unintended consequences – think back to the paperclip example. A machine might say only run display banners and forget about high impact formats such as video and connected TV. The machine might push 100% of impressions into in-app environments. The machine would say never buy another out of home ad again. The machine would never know to build brand awareness because there is no optimization point that it can use. 

Machines Need Guidance

We understand the role of the media buyer is not going away, but it is morphing. There is a new symbiotic relationship between buyer and machine which empowers them to maximize your brand as a whole. Successful media buyers do not need to spend 80 hours per week finding every winning media combination. Most of these tasks can be done through harnessing technology and freeing up time to look at the media plan from a higher level.  These benefits go directly to our clients in the form of more time dedicated to listening to client needs, smarter digital media plans, and ultimately higher performing campaigns. 

How to Incorporate Smart AI in Your Media Buying

  • Release media optimization controls to AI machines and spend time on strategic campaign elements. 
  • Define performance success beyond the metrics by establishing meaningful campaign goals 
  • Use context to avoid instrumental convergence and potentially harmful optimizations from unattended machines. 

Recommended Reading:

Increase B2B Conversions Using Programmatic Account Based Marketing

Increase B2B Conversions Using Programmatic ABM

Account based marketing (ABM) is a focused strategy that blends sales and marketing efforts to reach high potential B2B customers. However, many brands struggle with achieving the level of personalization and automation needed for effective ABM at scale. Thankfully, there is a solution: programmatic ABM. Using automated buying tactics, brands can serve targeted ads to thousands of highly segmented B2B consumers within target organizations using technology and data for personalization. 

Why ABM?

B2B marketing has historically emphasized quantity of leads generated first (Marketing Qualified Leads), with quality to follow (Sales Qualified Leads). Unfortunately, this method has led to 79% of leads never becoming customers, not to mention wasted media dollars. The account-based approach instead focuses on decision makers in target companies rather than mass outreach. By doing this prequalification, the sales funnel becomes shorter and every customer touchpoint is more intentional and personalized. This is why 77% of marketers believe ABM is their top driver of sales and marketing success. 

Zeroing In On the Target

Emarketer data shows that one key barrier to successful ABM is the inability to efficiently and effectively personalize marketing at scale.  We know this is a critical issue to solve as, 40% of company executives in e-commerce report that personalization directly affects their sales and company revenues.” Once you have your ideal customer profile nailed down, how can you make sure you are reaching these individuals?  Can you reach them at scale, with personalization and within your given budget? Here’s where programmatic activation comes in.

Programmatic ABM: Enabled by Technology

Programmatic advertising automates the ad buying process. Just because you are targeting individual business accounts, you don’t have to have massive teams calling or emailing accounts one by one to succeed. With proper campaign segmentation, you can tailor ads to feel highly specific and relevant to individuals within these companies. AI-powered creative learning takes this one step further by determining which combination of imagery and copy will be most effective for different audience segments and adjusting in real time. Programmatic and AI also allow agility and flexibility across channels. You can take a social ad and run it on digital or test a top performing display video on CTV – all while being confident your media spend is serving ads to real, qualified decision makers. 

Activation: First-Party First

When available, campaigns should start with leveraging your existing CRM data. Activate against this high value pool of leads who have already shared their information with you via content downloads, newsletter sign-ups, or other acquisition activities. Carefully segment these individuals so you can serve highly relevant and personalized ads to them based on their industry, level of seniority, interests, geography, etc. Work with a programmatic agency to activate these segments across various digital channels and media publishers. Track user behavior and data trends, then use AI tools to create lookalike audiences to expand the targeting pool.

To expand further, strategically incorporate third party data. Various data partners can be tapped to reach decision makers across digital channels. Keep in mind that with third party data in particular, it is important to have a smart targeting strategy. 

Start by refining your audience. Yes, you want to achieve scale and pack the lead funnel for your sales force, but the way to do that effectively and efficiently is by ensuring you understand what the ideal customer looks like. Your cost per lead may be higher when you narrow the targeting parameters, but you can expect a greater return by reaching audiences with the highest potential lifetime value and reducing wasted hours sifting through unqualified leads. Layer your targeting with firmographic, job title, and seniority parameters that indicate a high potential account. Look at your best customers  – what do they have in common? Segment your target personas into specific buckets so you can tailor your creative and messaging accordingly – adding the personalization now expected by B2B buyers.

Some targeting tactics for B2B accounts to consider are: 

  • Intent targeting to identify individuals and organizations who are actively searching for a particular topic or solution
  • NAICS job title targeting to reach specific job titles or organizations 
  • IP/Geo-Targeting to target specific business locations or industry events
  • Social targeting by skill/title/industry/location across platforms

Using programmatic activation with a digital partner allows brands to reach these highly sought after audiences with efficiency of both budget and time. 

B2B Channel Strategy: Time to Diversify?

Companies are placing the highest investment for their ABM strategies into digital, with the majority of spend occurring on social media, paid search and e-newsletters. These are all key ways to reach buyers, however, other channels such as programmatic display, CTV and audio are gaining more share of wallet year over year. Consider some of these more untapped spaces to allow your brand voice to be heard without competing with the noise. 

When choosing your channel strategy, don’t put all your efforts into one high-performing channel, such as LinkedIn. Instead, activate ads across a variety of channels based on the media consumption habits of your target audience and other behavioral insights. Use data-informed programmatic placements to meet the audience wherever they are active online.

To determine the best channel mix, it’s critical to build a cycle of testing and learning into your measurement strategy. This enables ongoing learning and optimization to improve the lead nurturing process by identifying what is working and what isn’t. Ask questions and test various tactics to find answers so your brand avoids stagnancy and reduced efficiency in the sales cycle.

Key Takeaways

  • Account-based marketing doesn’t have to be tedious. Taking a programmatic approach enables efficiency and scale for brands with large target account pools.
  • Refine targeting criteria and segment key audience groups to personalize creative accordingly. 
  • Capitalize on your first party data, then expand reach with high quality third party data to reach verified decision makers.
  • B2B brands can benefit from an omni-channel media approach and .considering non-traditional B2B media placements

Start reaching hundreds to thousands of B2B leads today by working with Coegi to build a programmatic ABM strategy. Download our guide to B2B Marketing to learn more. 

Digital Guide to Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Marketing

Healthcare and pharmaceutical marketing is a complex landscape. A long-standing emphasis on in-person rep sales and difficult to navigate privacy laws have made the industry slower to adopt new marketing technologies and trends relative to other industries.

Coegi created this guide to help healthcare and pharma marketers feel empowered to break the mold of antiquated marketing practices.

Creating a clear roadmap for your healthcare digital marketing strategy

This playbook aims to debunk the uncertainty surrounding health and pharma marketing. We outline best practices and provide a clear roadmap for your healthcare brand to create best-in-class marketing strategies. 

What you’ll learn: 

  • How to leverage key trends affecting the industry
  • Targeting methods for reaching patients and HCPs
  • Most effective channels and strategic tactics for health advertising
  • How to set KPIs, measure campaign results, and impact your bottom line 
  • What steps to take to ensure compliant advertising
  • Best practices to improve healthcare marketing strategies

Why digital marketing is critical for healthcare advertisers

The healthcare industry as a whole is pivoting towards data-driven strategies. Events, provider education, and patient treatment itself have shifted from in-person to blended online channels. Omni-channel advertising strategies work in tandem with consumer preferences moving towards digital treatment options such as tele-health to supplement more traditional healthcare. 

Ready to level up your healthcare advertising?

Download the Digital Guide to Healthcare and Pharmaceutical Marketing now. If you have any questions along the way, don’t hesitate to contact us to set up a discovery call.

5 Steps to Successful Marketing Measurement

Marketing measurement is one of the greatest challenges for modern advertisers. In particular, brands have an uphill battle to face when proving full-funnel marketing ROI across a variety of digital and physical channels. We’re here to change that. 

Coegi takes a unique approach to marketing measurement and campaign learnings centered around reaching core business objectives. This is the focus of every digital media strategy and campaign we execute.

Download the guide

In this playbook, you’ll learn how to succeed in marketing measurement with five simple steps: 

  1. Determining the key performance indicators to signal success
  2. Evaluating incrementality
  3. Creating a cycle of testing and learning
  4. Using data storytelling for better insights.  

Using these steps, you can ensure clear strategy and efficiencies in any marketing campaign. This is your guide to calculate and prove marketing ROI.  Apply these core principles and watch your business transform. Using this approach will allow you to track and communicate meaningful data, no matter how complex your channel strategy may be. 

How can you prove marketing ROI? 

To prove marketing ROI, you need to focus on aligning quantifiable data points with your overarching business objective. This will look different for every brand, which is why we incorporate custom scorecard models for our clients at Coegi. 

By following the five steps outlined in this guide, you can produce clear, measurable results – in other words, return on investment. These steps are crucial to accurately and effectively measure success and progress within online marketing strategies for any brand. Our specialists at Coegi utilize these tactics daily, and optimize results for clients with consistency by consistently implementing this process. 

Download the Five Step Guide to Successful Marketing Measurement now to get started on your path towards clearly defined success. If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to contact us to set up a discovery call with our team. 

5 Social Advertising Trends for 2022

How to Win at Social Advertising in 2022

What social strategies should your brand be focusing on 2022? Here are the trends we are seeing that could impact your brand’s social advertising strategy this year.

#1: Growth of Social Commerce

The pandemic-driven need for ecommerce availability drove accelerated growth in social commerce in 2020 and 2021, a trend that is predicted to continue on into 2022. 

What you need to know:

Tips:

  • Stay on top of platform updates and feature launches, including those on emerging platforms like TikTok. Build room in the budget to test and play to see which tactics drive the most conversions for your product.
  • Continue working to build trust and prove legitimacy with your social commerce efforts. How can you show your audience that they can trust the process? What platforms do your audience trust the most?

 

#2: The Rise of Micro- and Nano- Influencers

A major component to social commerce that should not be ignored is influencer marketing. Marketers are dedicating budgets to this multi-billion dollar industry because it is an increasingly effective and, in the case of micro- and nano-influencers, a cost-effective and trustworthy way to build awareness for your brand. 

What you need to know:

  • Brands increased influencer marketing spend by 42% in 2021, for a total of $13.8 billion, with spending in the US expected to rise 12.2% to $4.14 billion in 2022.
  • 56% of social media users would rather follow normal people than celebrities because of the authenticity of their content.
  • According to the Digital Marketing Institute, “49% of Consumers Depend on Influencer Recommendations.” 
  • Micro and nano-influencers (between 1,000-100,000 followers) are gaining traction due to their affordability as compared to macro influencers with 100,000+ followers. Data from HypeAuditor shows influencers with smaller audiences (1,000 to 10,000 followers) charge around $100 per post on Instagram, while macro- influencers typically ask for $1,000 or more.

Tips:

  • Concentrate on finding and engaging micro- and nano-influencers whose content aligns with the interests of your target audience and whose followers look most like your core consumer. 
  • Incorporate your influencer marketing into your overall digital media plan for omni-channel consistency and efficiency with other tactics – don’t isolate it from the broader strategy. 

 

#3: Building an Effective Video Content Strategy

Video creative has and will continue to be King of Content in 2022.  

What you need to know:

  • Video will continue to dominate the creative space. In 2021, the average person spent 100 minutes per day watching online videos.
  • Short-form videos are what consumers want to watch – whether on TikTok, Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts, or Snapchat Spotlight. The social media giants know this and have shifted their algorithms to prioritize and incentivize users who utilize these features.
  • Animoto surveyed 580 consumers, 93% of which said video is helpful when purchasing a product while 71% have purchased a product or service after watching a brand’s video on social media.
  • GenZ shoppers cite YouTube as their mostused platform for researching products, indicting that video is an effective 

Tips

  • Lean into video content – it’s what the people want to see and the social platforms are prioritizing it. 
  • Adapt video style to fit the expected user experience of the platform. For instance, a fully-produced, high quality commercial may not resonate on TikTok, where users are used to more informal, user-generated content. 
  • Follow video creative best practices to create a captivating and engaging experience for the consumer without the need for high dollar production budgets. 

#4 AR, VR and the Metaverse

Facebook’s 2021 name change to Meta and the rise in AR and VR features on multiple other platforms are a signal that immersive, 3D online consumer experiences may soon dominate the social space. 

What you need to know:

  • Gaming is currently the most widely used iteration of the Metaverse, with more than 3BN gamers who spend over $100BN per year.
  • Social platforms have started investing in the Metaverse by developing in-app gaming options for users. 
    • Facebook leads the pack with over 400 million people playing games on the platform. 
    • 30 million people play games on Snapchat.
    • In 2021, TikTok partnered with Zynga for game development. 
  • AR and VR experiences, such as filters and virtual “try before you buy” shopping options, have begun to enter the social landscape, with apps like SnapChat, Instagram and Pinterest leading the way. 
  • Half of US adults have either an interest in or have used AR and VR while shopping online. 

Tips: 

  • While the Metaverse and AR/VR technologies are still new, it is vital for brands to follow developments in this field and begin brainstorming ways they can use the technology to enrich the consumer’s experience. 
  • Watch this video for more insight from Coegi on the future implications of the Metaverse and how brands may be able to use it in the future. 

 

#5: Privacy Permissions = Strategy Shifts

In the past two years, Apple has released iOS updates that give users more control over what data apps can and cannot track through their mobile devices. This change will limit targeting capabilities on social platforms and will force marketers to explore other channels, incorporate more first party data, and expect further implications to scale and measurement as privacy becomes even more important to consumers.

What you need to know:

  • The most impactful changes with the iOS updates have been downloaded app permissions and email privacy, both of which will affect marketers abilities to target and track user behaviors across Apple’s mobile devices. 
  • For social media apps in particular, the biggest blow comes from the new automatic prompt to block an app from tracking their activity, which can limit social media platforms from gathering key targeting and retargeting data needed to reach Apple users on mobile. 
  • iOS’s privacy changes are one of many, including cookie deprecation and other limitations being implemented within the social platforms themselves. This is a signal that privacy concerns will continue to shape how marketers are able to reach and measure their audiences across all tactics, including social. 

Tips: 

  • Use social platforms and advertising capabilities to build your own banks of first- and zero-party data. Targeted polls, surveys and form submissions can open up opportunities for you to gather this data directly in the platforms themselves or by directing users to your site. 
  • With limited access to user data, brands will need to develop their own means of proving ROAS and ROI for bottom funnel tactics on social media on iOS. Learning how to overlap social data with website metrics for measurement is one way this can be accomplished. 
  • Continue tracking privacy updates across all social platforms and remain flexible in your strategies so your efforts are not derailed as new updates are announced and implemented. 

 

Overall, we are seeing a convergence across social channels. Platforms are no longer one dimensional: a photo-sharing app, a shopping app, or a gaming app. Instead, we have channels blending shopping, video entertainment, online gaming and image sharing all into one community-based platform. 

Explore the channels your core audience is most active on. See how you can take advantage of these trends and emerging technologies to build relationships with your consumers through some of the most high impact advertising tactics available. 

Further Reading: 

Understanding Implications of the Cookieless Future

Google’s announcement that Chrome will no longer support cookies as of 2023 has many digital marketers concerned about their cookieless future. Marketers that have historically relied on cookies to reach their target audiences and measure success will be greatly affected by this change and many are actively working on the next steps to avoid campaign performance declines. The actions taken by marketers in this pre-cookieless environment will help to shape and define the future of targeted advertising and performance metrics. 

“Businesses and advertising professionals will need to better understand how customers make decisions, what actions are valuable for businesses and bring that all together when showing success.” – Maggie Gotszling

Why are cookies important and how do they work?

Cookies are a backend line of code on a website that helps advertisers track a user’s behavior across the internet and includes 3rd party tracking pixels from platforms such as Facebook. The tracking of these activities makes it possible for advertisers to effectively deliver ads to their target audiences and directly measure and attribute conversions. With the deprecation of cookies, that tracking will no longer be viable, effectively blinding some targeting and measurement capabilities on which many marketers currently rely.  

What does it mean for campaign targeting strategies?

The major impact will be on retargeting third-party cookie-based audiences. It is recommended that advertisers begin shifting overreliance on this tactic and begin testing alternative targeting options to fill the gaps. Gathering first and second-party data (which is owned by publishers) will be central to an effective digital market strategy in a post-cookie environment. Additionally, the use of contextual targeting does not rely on cookies and provides brands with a strong opportunity to be able to generate increased brand awareness when done strategically. As an additional benefit, the cost of contextual advertising tends to be substantially lower than addressable impressions as data is not layered on, though costs are impacted by whether the tactic is targeted through a whitelist or contracted with a private marketplace deal.

Definitions and tips for collecting zero, first, and second party data

Zero party data: Coined by Forrester, Zero-Party data is collected when “a customer intentionally and proactively shares with a brand. It can include preference center data, purchase intentions, personal context, and how the individual wants the brand to recognize [them].” 

How to collect Zero Party Data:

  • Surveys
  • Polls

Tip: Don’t ask for too much too often and create poll fatigue on the consumer.

First party data: Observed behaviors of users who interact with your company. 

How to collect first party data: 

Form submissions or other forms of contact sharing on

  • Mobile apps 
  • Websites 
  • Social media 
  • SMS 
  • Email
  • Customer service platforms
  • Point of purchase

Second party data: Second Party Data is First Party Data collected by one company that they privately share with another company. For instance, when a publisher allows another company to use their CRM data to reach a target audience that overlaps with their own. An example of this would be if a brand were to work with Drizly, an online alcohol retailer, to reach their target audience of active digital alcohol shoppers. 

“Brands need to reestablish expectations for programmatic and be open to experiment with alternative targeting and measurement solutions. Ideally, this will happen in 2022 while we still have access to data that is likely to be lost.” – Savannah Westbrock

What impacts will we see on measurement?

Cookies have been the underpinning for most digital marketing performance measurements for over twenty years, including post-click and post-view conversions and attribution for sales impact. For example, the Facebook ecosystem will be heavily disrupted in attribution of conversion-based events, largely due to their reliance on mobile ad IDs for measurement. Historically, marketers have leaned heavily into Facebook and other walled garden environments due to their ability to evaluate strength ROI based on the multiple touchpoints that go into a final purchase, facilitated by the placement of a tracking pixel on the brand’s website. 

However, these walled garden pixels are defined as a third party cookie and will be limited in their ability to pass back data once the elimination of the cookie is mobilized. As a whole, we can expect  campaign performance on the front end to decline as compared to previous years, even if the backend business performance remains the same. Brands and teams should start to plan for shifts in attribution and performance as we get closer to the 2023 depreciation.

Fortunately, there are potential workarounds. For example, brands can overlay their conversion-based data found on Google analytics to match up on site conversion with Facebook mobile IDs after the fact. This helps level media metrics back up to business goals, but requires more analysis and less “real-time” results. Tests and conversations in 2021 can prepare in advance for performance declines and reduce a sense of panic. 

Post-cookie ID-based solutions for targeting and measurement

There are also multiple cookie alternatives in development that promise to bridge the addressability gap that will be created when cookies are deprecated. Here are a few of the options currently out there or in development.

Google’s Topics:

Google is developing a solution for targeting called Topics. Similar but slightly different than its predecessor FLoCs, Topics uses an individual’s browsing activity to tag them with broad interest categories, or topics, that can be used to target ads to that individual in the future. For instance, if a user visits Nike’s website, they may be tagged with an interest in fitness.  When ads are served to this user, their browser will choose, at random, three of that user’s top five topics based on the previous three weeks’ browsing history. Those three topics are then shared with the advertiser as a tool to serve relevant ads to the user during their visit. This method allows the advertiser to target based on interest without using identifiers or other potentially invasive data points.

Standard Universal IDs: 

Originally used as a way to combat mismatched data when syncing cookie data across domains, companies like The Trade Desk, LiveRamp, and IAB have developed what are known as Universal IDs. This standardized identifier allows advertisers to buy into a community of shared data to track audience activity across the internet. The primary concern with Universal IDs, however, is that they still currently rely on third-party cookies, without which they are unable to set or recognize identifiers across domains. 

Encrypted Universal IDs:

Understanding the original design of Universal IDs would no longer be effective once cookies were depreciated, companies like LiveIntent (nonID) and The Trade Desk (Unified ID 2.0) started developing encrypted identifiers using email addresses instead of cookies to track user activity. The primary hurdle with email-based IDs is that they require users to provide and consistently use the same email across websites in order to build an accurate profile. If the user is unwilling to provide that data, or different emails are used for different sites, advertisers will be blind to their activity and be unable to target them accurately.

While all of these solutions have their pros and cons, they are all worth monitoring as they continue to develop as they will be key in building targeting and measurement strategies in 2023 and beyond. 

Recommendations to prepare for the cookieless future

  • Plan early & anticipate impacts to your measurement/attribution system. We encourage everyone to have conversations with their clients and agencies to set expectations ahead of time. We’ve outlined a quarterly look at the impact across audiences, e-comm/attribution as well as media mix & creative. 
  • Benchmark your current performance: You can start modeling the impact of third-party cookie blocking by recording your current analytic metrics and monitoring them as the update takes effect. Establishing benchmarks by operating system and browser will enable you to calculate most accurately the potential impact.
  • Apply business intelligence models to your analytics: Predictive analytics can be used along with your data to provide deeper insights for the best performing marketing tactics and identify macro and micro trends that influence your business outcomes.
  • Consolidate media activation to as few platforms as possible: Platforms are developing their own internal frameworks to accurately track and measure marketing performance outside of third-party trackers. The more platforms you execute your media through the more disparate measurement systems you have to take into consideration. There is also the likelihood that you will have duplication across platforms and consolidation will reduce that occurrence. 
  • Expand implementation timelines: Relying on first party data more and needing to run that first party data through an identity solution and then back into a web environment will add time to campaign and ad ops setups. While match rates should improve, campaigns will be moderately more cumbersome to set up, especially as we get used to these new flows. Teams and clients should build in extra cushion.
  • Create new relationships with third-party, cookieless data providers: This is not a new risk in the ad operations system, but an ever present risk that doesn’t go away under a new system. Fortunately, these companies benefit from interoperability and scale. The most important thing brands can do to reduce dependencies is to understand how your audiences and targets are built in each platform and know what’s different depending on the partner. Always ask what’s inside the box or model.

“Brands who have been targeting super-niche audiences will have to reestablish expectations for programmatic and be open to experiment with alternative targeting and measurement solutions. Ideally, this will happen in 2022 while we still have access to data that is likely to be lost.” – Colin Duft

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