What To Focus On Now for Your Cookieless Future

Three people sitting in a conference room looking at a laptop on a table.

Not feeling ready for a cookieless future? You’re not alone.

According to recent research from eMarketer, most advertisers haven’t adopted alternative measurement solutions or found cookie alternatives to use for programmatic ad buying yet.

But Google has already started making strides with its cookie deprecation plans by enabling its Privacy Sandbox toolkit — and plans to phase out all cookies by 2025.

Now’s the time to start planning, exploring and testing alternatives for an advertising ecosystem without cookies.

What can you do to be successful? Here’s what you should be focusing on right now to step more easily into the cookieless world.

Assess the Impact

Assess the Impact slide

What To Focus On Right Now

Examine your media mix and plan and review your current digital strategy to gauge how reliant you are on third-party cookies. For an accurate assessment, answer the following questions:

  • How and where are you reaching your target audience?
  • What channels are you using, and how are you speaking to your target audience?
  • What does your customer and consumer personalization model look like, and is it reliant on first-party or third-party data?
  • Do you use third-party cookie data to drive personalization?
  • What does your measurement strategy look like? What are your metrics?
  • What are your primary key performance indicators (KPIs) versus secondary versus business outcomes?
  • Are your KPIs third-party-dependent?
  • Do you leverage third-party data to enrich your first-party data-driven insights?
  • What types of insights are you gaining and leveraging?
  • What cookieless alternatives can you try now?

Losing the third-party cookie will likely impact these digital advertising buckets — site measurement, content availability, media measurement and tactic scalability, and here’s why.

Site Measurement

Those who opt out of being tracked won’t be a random sample of the population — they could greatly skew your site metrics. Without cookies, publishers and site owners will have to make decisions on incomplete information.

Content Availability

Publishers will lose insight into who’s visiting their site when third-party cookies go away. Of course, inventory has a greater value if there’s more information about the individuals the ads are being served to, so publishers will be forced to make the difficult decision on what content to make free versus what to gate behind a paywall.

Media Measurement

Without cookies, the ability to track users will be hindered if they opt out because site actions won’t be able to be tied to ad exposure. But don’t be alarmed if your performance dips.

It may be that the number of trackable users declined, and you’re working with a smaller lookback window. That’s why it’s important that you (and every advertiser) should reset your expectations on what you consider good performance.

Tactic Scalability

Once third-party cookies disappear, data-related tactics will see a decline in available inventory on the open exchange.

To build scale in the future, marketers will have to reroute their budgets to contextual targeting, site-related buys, or to category or interest targeting from a Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC) from Google or a cohort.

Enhance Your First-Party Data

Enhance your first-party data slide

What to Focus On Right Now

To make the most of your first-party data, answer these questions:

  • Where’s your first-party data coming from? Your website? Loyalty programs? Elsewhere?
  • What first-party data points are you currently capturing?
  • Are there other first-party data points you could be capturing to strengthen your marketing strategy?
  • Do you have consent and preference management in place?
  • Where’s your first-party data being stored?
  • How often is it refreshed or cleansed?
  • How are you currently using your first-party data?
  • Are you maximizing its full potential?

The Importance of First-Party Data in a Post-Cookie World

First-party data, your customer data, is foundational to digital advertising because that’s where your insights and directional learning will come from moving forward — especially now that the cookie will soon be deprecated.

The most valuable way to spend your time over the next year is to gather and organize your first-party data so it’s fully usable and then build it up as much as you can.

Assess both the quantity and quality of it — how you’re currently using it or how you could use it in the future. See what you have, where the gaps are and then acquire other data to make it your own.

Your first-party data tells you who your interested and engaged audience is. It also helps you build consumer relationships and move prospects to active customers.

Step Confidently Into a Cookieless Future

By following some of these steps, you’ll be ready for a post-cookie landscape. The key is to start testing and learning yourself — and do it now.

Visit our Identity Resource Hub to discover how to start testing identity alternatives and find up-to-the-minute clear and free info, advice and insights.

Or are you looking for expert advice to develop a foolproof strategy to successfully operate in a cookieless environment? Reach out to schedule a privacy and identity assessment with our team.

Alex Bloore blog byline headshot

Alex Bloore is the VP of product and data at Goodway Group. He has 13+ years of experience in software and product leadership in many industries from medical software to PropTech to adtech and marketing.  As a subject matter expert for data clean rooms and identity solutions, Alex has presented at various events including Programmatic I/O and been featured in publications such as AdExchanger. An executive leader of award-winning cross-functional product and data teams, he’s driven strategic technical innovation across Goodway Group’s diverse client base. Alex currently lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three sons.

Jason Lett is a solutions architect at Goodway Group, where he is dedicated to the advancement of digital marketing through the development and adoption of operational standards, thought leadership and innovation. His penchant for process and execution details — as well as his vast digital experience — amplifies his ability to help a wide variety of clients and brands maximize the impact of cross-platform marketing and advertising solutions. He currently lives in Athens, Georgia, with his husband.