Is the prospect of a cookieless future keeping you up at night?

Liz Formoso looks at a future without tracking cookies | Aug 2020

Earlier this year Google announced that by 2022, Chrome will stop supporting cookies. The news sent an immediate shockwave of panic across the digital marketing industry. “Is this the end of the internet!?”

Prompting us all to ask:

“Should this fundamental data layer be removed, what will happen to the ad industry and publisher landscape?”
“What alternative audience strategies can marketers utilise to ensure quality isn’t compromised?”

When the cookie crumbles

Cookies play an inherent role in the way we target online ads, how we measure return on investment and how we analyse website functionality and improve user experience.

Whilst we are all still getting our heads around GDPR and privacy policies, the prospect of a world without cookies seems a daunting prospect.

The good news is that traditional direct buys and contextual targeting strategies will stand the test of time. Agencies will also need to look to other new stable identifiers to find their audience. We may therefore start to see publishers introduce login walls or push their 2nd party audience extension offerings harder.

Despite this there may be a number of repercussions which stem from a reduced ad funded economic model. For example, publishers may look to increase their rates or increase ad density across their sites. The worst scenario may see publishers going bust as they struggle to compete for ad spend. In turn this will reduce reach and variety across media plans.

How can we prepare?

In preparation for 2022, clients should start auditing and segmenting all 1st party data sources to make them available for the purposes of media targeting. For example, through PPC and social platforms we are able to custom match CRM data to lookalike and re-engage known customers.

Modelling from client owned BI and building new forecasts (using a combination of both deterministic and probabilistic data) we will be able to predict and optimise more accurately. Combining this with contextual signals and topics will also further our understanding of real time behaviours and trigger moments.

Our thoughts

Establishing a new user identifier would also open up the opportunities of cross channel tracking and optimisation. Something that adservers such as Atlas have tried to do in the past with Facebook. This would also open up new reach opportunities cross browser. Historically cookies have not been enabled across Safari, however the browser accommodates 30% of users online.

So, is this the end of the internet?

A world without cookies offers new opportunities for innovation in data. There is also the promise of being able to understand our audiences on a more personal and contextual level. This all suggests a new and exciting age for digital marketing to reinvent itself. A metamorphosis away from PII, the stigma of hidden publisher mark ups and claustrophobic lumascapes. No doubt however, Google will dictate the terms!