Why the end of cookies will engage more minds

Taylor Fielding
By Taylor Fielding | 16 January 2024
Taylor Fielding

Cookie depreciation has been rumoured, confirmed, timelined, delayed and lingered in the digital world like Christmas leftovers for years. Google first pushed back its date for the third-party cookieless future back in 2022. I came to question, like many others in the industry, whether the date would ever "really" come?

However, new year, new resolutions. And it appears that in 2024 it will most likely become a reality, as trials for 30 million people (or 1% of Chrome users) have now begun. 

You did get the sense that when ad tech giants such as Meta start investing in cookieless tracking and measurement via server integrations, you know it's only a matter of time before third-party pixels end up like the cookies in Sesame Street, a crumbled mess on the floor.

Google maintains that it’s committed to improving privacy on the web, and the expectation from consumers is that it should come first. Savvy marketers understand the shift and are evolving plans to ensure a privacy-safe environment where people want to be reached. 

More engaging

I do feel that this shift will separate out those within brands and agencies, who are able to use wider knowledge and not rinse and repeat using ‘cookie-cutter’ audience profiles. Universal ‘insights’ will no longer keep the tap of target segmentation running. 

Which is positive from my perspective. Connecting with your ‘tribe’, should mean that you understand their behaviours and profiles better. And to do this, we’re going to have to look beyond ‘easy’ historical indicative behaviour and unearth some previously unknown connections. It should be ‘Proactive Segmentation’. 

Discovering these will inform better creativity across disciplines and we’ll hopefully see a repatriation of media and creative to the table at the conception of a campaign.

Planning matters

In your marketing teams, it would be worth setting the expectations of the wider business. It’s time to prime your internal stakeholders now. The results of campaigns and how they can be reported will likely change. So start if you haven’t already.

Another point to cross off the audit checklist in preparation is ensuring you have a cookieless solution in place, for those brands and agencies that are using a trading desk for running programmatic campaigns. 

Also ensure you have service side integration for social media.

We have been preparing for the cookieless future by investing in ad tech partners that offer a cookieless solution. The comedown can be staved somewhat. For example, Trading desks & ad servers that use Unified IDs (UID's) which are alternative identifiers that enable user-level identification across websites and platforms without third-party cookies. 

Ensure you have your Google Analytics (GA4) set up appropriately, I cannot overstate this enough.

Using a tag manager, will still allow clients and advertisers control over first-party data from your own site and combining with UID’s allows modulation and activation of a brand's first-party data to better find unknown audiences for performance advertising campaigns.  

Back to life, back to relevancy

It’s been a case of death by data…ironically!

Whilst cookieless solutions have evolved for advertisers to run effective programmatic and social media campaigns, we need to consider shifting back to the old-school way of targeting audiences. Relying on ‘real world’ data (like ABS, market research measurement firms), or offline data, to inform digital campaigns. I’m not saying this hasn’t been done to date, but its use will increase substantially. For example if you're a business that offers retirement services, you should consider looking at ABS data of suburbs that over-index for an ageing population.

One way in which this approach made me go ‘uh huh’, was helping to curate the franchise industry’s first real in-depth report. By using globally accredited measurement firms like Neilsen, the Future Franchisee report, uncovered new insights like ‘those with a higher income, often love sporting events, like attending the Australian Open in Melbourne’ or those with entrepreneurial interests don’t just listen to business podcasts, but ‘comedy’ ranks highly as well. 

Using authenticated data like this, you can be sure that someone has made a choice to provide their data, ensuring customers’ privacy is maintained. 

We’ll no doubt see a rise in data use from market measurement firms to understand what audiences have a propensity to become a customer/consumers and how that audience then consumes media to assist with brand-building campaigns. 

Consider what’s next for you

Ensuring you’re at the front of the consideration queue in the minds of your audience isn’t just about spraying far and wide for reach. It’s about relevancy. Awareness with a message that resonates. Give them something that commands their attention and you’ll be rewarded. It doesn’t take 8,10,15 views of a brand, if it feels valuable, useful and served in media environments that command high attention. Then it will demand attention. That will bring consideration. 

This approach will provide better control, privacy and sustainability for the entire marketing industry; including consumers within that ecosystem. 2024 is set to be a big year for advertisers and being nimble, proactive, and adaptable to change will be crucial for a brand’s success.

Taylor Fielding is the MD at TFM Digital

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