Success in a Cookieless Future – Answering Common Questions

/ Thoughtspace - Strategy

Google has announced that Chrome will no longer support cookies as of Q1 2022. Marketers that have historically relied on cookies to be able reach their target audiences and measure success are panicking to be able to determine next steps to avoid performance declines on their campaigns. Fortunately for Coegi, our team began anticipating this change years ago and have been transitioning towards people-based targeting signals versus a purely cookie-based approach. While there are still questions that remain unanswered, Coegi are confident that this transition will be seamless for our clients as we proactively work with our partners to identify the best solutions. We continue to prioritize premium placements, work with both identity and contextually based data providers, and implement various A/B testing to fully understand the implications on targeting and measurement for your brands.

In the coming weeks, we will be releasing a series of content pieces that not only answer the high-level questions about the implications of a cookieless future, but also to provide insight into solutions that are available to continue to drive ROI from digital media investment

Q&A for a Cookieless Future

When can we expect the cookie to be deprecated?

Similar to Apple’s rollout of the iOS 14 opt in update, Google has been relatively vague with providing a timeline of when we can expect Chrome to no longer accept third-party cookies. In a general sense, we know it is expected to rollout in 2022. The Coegi team is working proactively to understand the future landscape and build upon our current solutions so the transition will be seamless.

How will this impact my audience targeting?

Addressability will not be eliminated, but it will inevitably not be as easy to have access to a vast variety of third-party segments. Instead, having deterministic identity based solutions, first and second party data, and a robust contextual play are all going to be critical moving forward. The major impact will be on retargeting, which is necessitated by 3rd party cookies in most instances.

Many publishers and technology partners are working together to be able to produce Unified ID 2.0, which will be an open source solution built with hashed and encrypted email addresses across the web where a user has logged in. That being said, there are several other data providers who are working or currently have their own solutions that are able to be used to have 1:1 targeting without encroaching on privacy issues. Some of these partners include Liveramp, Wiland, MediaOcean, Amazon, Roundel, and Semcasting. We will provide more detail on what these providers offer in future content.  

First and second-party data (which is owned by publishers) will be central to an effective digital market strategy in a post-cookie environment. The companies that are poised for success here have been building deterministic identity graphs for years not only based on logins and emails, but also devices, purchase information and phone numbers. Key players in this space include Liveramp, Eyeota, Oracle, Nielsen, and Adstra.

Finally, 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 this is impacted by whether the approach is through a whitelist or a private marketplace deal.

Will we be able to do remarketing through a pixel?

Any pixel not owned by the owner of the website domain is considered a third party pixel. Unified ID 2.0 that is being worked on by Prebid will allow for email-based conversion tracking in instances where email address is captured by the advertiser, such as a purchase or download, but we don’t yet know the impact on reach in the buying platform.

However, we do know that first party data from opt-in email addresses will become increasingly valuable. Clients will need to adjust prioritizing prospecting and a full-funnel strategy vs. relying on the metrics of consumers who were likely already going to convert, like from retargeting tactics. 

Should I be recommending a different channel strategy to my clients?

The response to this question heavily ladders up to goals, and may change based on forthcoming information and better understanding of scale implications. That being said, there won’t be any platforms that immediately become unusable — the difference is that attribution is going to be much more challenging. Here are some tactical strategies that should be considered from a channel perspective as the industry begins to pivot:

  • Shift budget toward connected TV and linear TV extension to drive more upper and mid funnel activity
  • Leverage DOOH with mobile retargeting – Android will still enable location tracking, despite iOS 14’s impact on tracking, and other vendors will provide alternative solutions
  • Lean into search and social with the objective of gathering 1st party data that can then be used for targeting and personalization
  • Maximize the ‘walled garden’ offerings (Google, Facebook, Amazon, etc.)

What differences are we going to see in measurement?

Cookies have been the underpinning for most digital marketing performance measurement for over twenty years, including post-click and post-view conversions and attribution for sales impact. As a result, lower funnel tactics have stood out as ‘performance channels’ since a customer’s online actions can be more directly attributed to them. Research has shown that many customer journeys start on mobile. However, often mobile traffic looks less likely to convert than desktop traffic due to the fact that as users switch between app browsers and mobile web browsers. This behavior makes it more and more difficult to stitch together the path to conversion. As a result, it can become hard to justify increased spending in mobile channels because the data does not indicate the actual influence on purchase or conversion activity. The iOS14 update is likely to further complicate this measurement challenge.

Therefore, Coegi recommends integrating a directional approach to measurement as opposed to one that is solely deterministic. In fact, major platforms such as Google and Facebook have already implemented this targeting and measurement methodology to compensate for restrictions within the Safari browser and other limitations. This approach will also benefit marketers as other developments, such as the deprecation of 3rd party cookies in the Chrome browser, are implemented in the future. How can this be done? 

Following are a few recommendations for developing your own model for more holistic measurement and attribution:

  • 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. 

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