While brands, agencies and adtech companies currently have a lot on their plate, they also need to keep an eye on the seismic shift set to take place in digital marketing within a few years.
Google’s move to delete third-party cookies from the Chrome browser, announced in January, will likely impact everything from attribution modeling to personalization initiatives and conversion analytics.
This will be especially true in areas like mobile, where Google Chrome has a 41% market share. Many expect large publishers will quickly build their own walled-gardens in mobile, leaving smaller publishers to scramble for ways to show effective performance.
These changes will present challenges for digital advertisers, but there are steps that many in the space can take to ensure they’re more prepared than their competitors when the ground starts to shift underneath the industry.
Here are five proactive steps marketers can take now to be well-positioned when Google’s cookieless tracking restrictions are finally in place.
1. Embrace media mix modeling
Though it lacks the post-view granularity that comes with cookie-based targeting, media mix modeling is the next best option, capable of delivering a solid way for advertisers to optimize their digital media buying while factoring in offline media, seasonality and other variables.
One of the keys to successfully leveraging media mix modeling is developing confidence in the metrics being provided by Google and other major platforms. If those numbers are accurate, even if not down to the nth degree, brands can work with their adtech partners on effective optimization strategies.
2. Build your own Customer Data Platform
Beginning with their own data sets, companies can, during the next 12 to 24 months, build and centralize all of the consumer data they have within their organization, including legacy and third-party data, into a single go-to internal repository.
The CDP should include phone numbers, emails, geographic locations, over-the-top IP addresses and other customer identifiers that combine to form a distinctive identification. Having your own tools to spot and identify your customers will go a long way in eliminating the uncertainty that will come with the removal of third party tracking cookies.
3. Be at the forefront of cookie-alternatives
Given what’s at stake for digital advertising, it’s more than likely that new tools to identify and track users (while providing additional privacy protections) will come to the marketplace either before or shortly after Google’s purge of third-party cookies.
Some of these tools will come from the independent demand-side platforms as they have more of a publisher role in the advertising ecosystem. While unlikely to match the scale of a Google, Facebook or Amazon, these “not quite cookies” should allow for some post-view tracking, especially when combined with internal identifiers.
Marketers and agencies that don’t have the resources to create cookie alternatives internally can still advocate and support the development of these new solutions, while also establishing procedures to evaluate and adopt these alternatives when they do become available.
4. Strengthen your relationship with Google, Facebook, Apple and Amazon
Brands are going to be even more reliant on the data provided by these dominant publishers — and one way to make sure to get the most of that data is to figure out ways to consolidate some digital spending to ensure that major platforms like Google peel back the curtain and share additional insights.
Spending more with these major players often leads to additional client products or services and training, especially when it comes to helping to evaluate ad performance. That potentially includes access to data clean rooms, where brands are granted better visibility into how their data is performing, even if they can’t actually own that data or run their own analytics.
5. Educate your entire organization
Most departments may be vaguely aware of the Google announcement regarding cookies, but not every part of an organization will understand the implications it could have on everything from ad spends to new business development initiatives.
Marketing departments should join with adtech partners to educate stakeholders (from the C-Suite on down) that the cookieless tracking change is coming, explaining in clear terms its likely impact on the ways in which digital marketing activities will be measured and analyzed along the path to purchase going forward.
Keeping everyone on the same page ensures the resources for cookieless analytics/data science are in place when the change does occur and why, for example, programmatic metrics will have to be adjusted to account for the loss of cookies.
Fortune favors the bold, but it also favors the well-prepared. This is especially true in digital marketing as new tools and technologies emerge even as others, like the third-party cookie, are removed from the tool kit.
Make no mistake — Google’s tweak is a major change, one that will render some digital tools and third-party analytic specialty firms obsolete, even as it strengthens Google’s hand in the advertising ecosystem.
The brands, agencies and adtech firms that anticipate the impact of the loss of cookies and are able to adjust their strategies and create tools to best compete in this new environment will be the ones that come out ahead in the new, cookieless world.
Raquel Rosenthal serves as CEO of Digilant. Previously she was CRO of Digilant, US. Raquel is a digital and programmatic veteran in the industry since 1999. Raquel was one of the original sales vice presidents with Adnetik and Digilant. Prior to Digilant, she served in various sales and sales management roles including AudienceScience, Belo Interactive, DataXu, VNU and Doubleclick.