Nov'23·Andrés Auchterlonie·3 MIN
What does the cookieless future mean for brands?
As we make our way into 2024, the conversation around the elimination of third-party cookies continues to get louder. Google Chrome continues to be the leading mobile internet browser in 2023, with a 66% market share. Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) feature has also significantly impacted social media marketing by making it harder to track user behavior.
There has been a lot of talk around the deprecation of third-party cookies, as marketers fear that their main source of data that powers personalized ads will be obsolete. The tightening of privacy laws globally and the need to comply with them are adding to marketer woes. What are the key areas of impact?
- Without third-party cookies, brands will not be able to create personalized ads or targeted campaigns as they do not have access to user behavior, preferences, and browsing patterns.
- The ability to track and analyze campaign effectiveness, user journeys, and measure attributions will get more complicated.
- The lack of granular-level data will make it harder to monitor campaign effectiveness and identify the key touchpoints that lead to conversions. Lack of cookie data will also impact retargeting capabilities that help strengthen campaign performance.
Ushering in the new era of cookieless advertising
A privacy-first world, sans any cookies tracking browning patterns, is one that users and data privacy advocates have been rooting for. What brands and marketers must do is shift their focus and look at exploring and developing alternative technologies and privacy-friendly solutions. The cookieless future presents brands with an opportunity to rethink their ad strategies and where they invest their advertising budgets.
Users have made it loud and clear that they dislike being followed around the internet and often find retargeting practices annoying. What brands need to understand is that the elimination of third-party cookies could actually be a blessing in disguise. The picture painted today around the inability to personalize ads or understand user behavior is mostly by vendors who make their revenue by selling consumer data based on third-party cookies like audience segmentation and profiling.
What brands need to analyze is, how good is the data quality and does individual targeting even make sense in today’s world? According to a Statista survey, 51% of adults in the United States said they were very bothered or somewhat bothered by irrelevant ads. Another survey revealed that nearly 3 out of every 4 users think there are too many ads while 44% of users find the ads irrelevant to their wants and needs.
Instead of investing dollars on over-hyped targeting strategies that yield poor results, brands can reevaluate ad spends to more focused efforts on impactful areas like brand building that can drive more sales. Brands and marketers also need to revisit the fundamentals - Do you really need to know who exactly the buyer is? Or do you just need to know if consumers are buying through an ad? As long as brands are making their sales and know that users exposed to a certain ad have higher purchase trends, they have the data they need to analyze campaign effectiveness. This makes the whole case for third-party cookies being a must for successful ad campaigns obsolete.
Looking beyond intrusive ad targeting practices
Brands must pivot towards increased user privacy and data protection, and adapt to evolving privacy regulations. They must communicate transparently with users regarding data collection and usage. This has accelerated the importance of first-party data, with brands now increasingly focusing on building direct relationships with their audiences, to collect and leverage first-party data for more personalized marketing efforts.
Additionally, moving beyond third-party cookies can also curtail ad fraud. With programmatic channels being rampant in the past decade, ad fraud has been on the rise owing to cheap long-tail keywords. Ad budgets were allocated to random, unknown sites, and thus began the increase of fake sites built purely for ad fraud and disinformation. Bots have been widespread, silently eating away ad dollars.
Marketers need to stop and rethink, perhaps shake things upside down entirely. Data clearly shows that showcasing ads on tens of thousands of websites does not mean higher purchases or better ad performance. In fact, it could possibly mean poor practice and ad fraud. Instead, what if brands invested their budgets on reliable sites which may be fewer in number but guaranteed a relevant, human readership?
Going cookieless with contextual
All this talk around privacy, cookies, and ad targeting has paved the way for contextual advertising to make its reappearance. Backed by new-age technology capabilities like Artificial Intelligence (AI), Machine learning (ML), and Natural Language Processing (NLP), the upgraded version of contextual advertising extends a strategy to bolster targeting and ad placement.
Quickly emerging as a preferred solution for the privacy-first world, contextual advertising does not leverage any third-party data and focuses on the content and context of web pages. It allows a brand to enhance its understanding of consumer interests and gives proof points to make confident, data-backed business decisions.
Brands and marketers, do not be misled into believing that the cookieless future means no more impactful advertising. It is quite the opposite and makes way for better targeting practices that are non-intrusive, more impactful, relevant, and brand safe and suitable.
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