Life is about balance. Day and night, predator and prey, birth and death. Many view these as opposites, but I consider them counterweights that keep our world in balance. We can say the same about the cookieless and future-proofing discussions currently taking place.
Marketers have relied on cookies for years because they were the best option for data collection and storage. But as consumers’ privacy expectations grow, the scales have tipped in favor of alternative, privacy-forward solutions.
Forget the banter around one browser’s timeline; cookieless is way bigger than one browser or platform. Third-party cookies are already irrelevant on several platforms, including Safari, mobile apps, and CTV. Only about 30% of internet browsing in the US is estimated to be cookie-based. Cookies will phase out eventually.
Privacy matters to customers, which means it matters to marketers as well. But so does digital media campaign performance.
These two considerations are not contradictory. They are counterbalances. But the challenge for marketers is to find the equilibrium between the two in preparing an effective future-proofed strategy.
Technology and capabilities have evolved to enable data reliability and performance outside the cookie. You won’t need to sacrifice your brand’s ability to build robust, data-driven audience profiles, launch successful, high-performing campaigns or accurately measure the results of those campaigns to meet privacy standards. At MiQ, we’ve seen cookieless activations result in 65% greater unique reach and 57% lower CPMs than cookie-based activations within the same campaign.
There is no silver bullet when it comes to replacing cookies. To find the balance between performance and privacy, we must experiment with emerging alternatives. Now is the time to test and learn, whether that is offline first-party data activation via a cookieless authenticated identifier or using geo-contextual signals for building target audiences. Next year, find the mix of approaches that will deliver both reach and outcome-oriented objectives.
Now is also the time to invest in creating new technologies to collate disparate data into structures and formats we can use to inform future marketing strategies.
While first-party data remains central and critical to driving performance, we have an opportunity to build upon how this data is used. It’s simple enough to retarget first-party data using cookieless identifiers, but marketers should also be thinking about smarter ways to use such a valuable set in conjunction with geo-contextual and contextual signals that are both predictive and performative.
Future-proofing isn’t simple or easy, especially when it comes to measurement. Clean-room work, for example, is particularly challenging and requires a higher level of analytics expertise to power experimentation. Now is the time to get comfortable with the finer details of how data science works within these new types of platforms and for clean-room outputs to take on a larger role in marketing science.
Cookieless isn’t the end of digital marketing as we know it; it’s the force that will push us to greater intelligence, innovation and creativity, as we strive to maintain the balance between our collective goals and our customers’ expectations.