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Get Ready For A Cookieless World


Cookies are being finally phased out over the next 1-2 years – we are already starting to feel the impact from Firefox, Safari, In app usage and Facebook IOS 14 Update. This has come as no surprise to the world of ad tech from cookie blockers starting back in early 2000’s, changes in browsers, followed by GDPR and finally Google and Facebook announcements in early 2021 which were the final nail in the coffin.

This week Google have now explicitly stated “that once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products.”

So then .. How do we remain engaged with our audience when cookie based marketing disappears?

  1. Focus on first party data
  2. Consider using a data onboarding platform
  3. Get on board with ad platform alpha and beta programmes 
  4. Invest in social & contextual advertising
  5. Don’t freak out .. do you really think the ad tech giants are going to let that slice of the pie just go?

1. Focus on first party data

Customer Match and custom audiences have grown in popularity over the last few years allowing advertisers ways to upload their owned data into Google, FB, Linked – match it with their database and advertise to these audiences. 

This allows marketers to leverage Ads APIs to match on multiple data types at once to increase the coverage and accuracy for their data files marketers will see increased match rate (coverage) while maintaining the 1:1 match accuracy. 

Providing real time data matching, accurate advertising – as well as provide an excellent seed audience for creating lookalikes, similar or expanded audiences.

Lookalike audiences use machine learning to find users just like those in your email list – you can decide how wide to make this audience but ultimately you can take advantage of predictive advertising and find new audiences that should behave in a similar way to your initial audience.

You can layer your lookalike audience with other targeting to narrow it and ensure targeting remains accurate.

Typical match rates when uploading hashed data to Google, Fb + Linkedin vary from 10-35%

This means you need to invest time delivering meaningful customer experiences, creating useful content and ensuring that its worth your users time giving you their precious data.

2. Consider Using Data OnBoarding 

Data onboarding in a nutshell allows you to take your data that you have built, upload it to a processor and then use additional matching against their identify graphs to create a higher match rate and activate through ad platforms.

This allows you to:

  • Maximise your first party data through increasing match rates
  • Access third party data lists
  • Analyse your existing data and what it comprises of
  • Let you enter your data into data marketplaces

“The typical American household contains five connected devices, and according to Gartner, uses an average of 2.8 touchpoints before making a purchase. This means marketers have to link offline data points to cross-channel (online) devices for each individual. This requires identity management through a robust person-graph, not only to accurately identify individuals, but to connect their profiles to pseudonymous/anonymous IDs, and target them across their lifecycle with a brand.”

Full Contact

It is worth taking the time to evaluate different data onboarding providers – particularly the data sets and countries they have access to, costing, match rates and whether they let you sample this with your data set before committing.

For our client’s requirements LiveRamp was the best fit due to US, European and ASPAC capabilities.

Full Contact, Neustar and Data Logix are all reputable options.

The biggest benefit for us as an agency has been taking the previously mentioned match rates of 10-35% and increasing to average of 60%.  This allows us to improve performance and accuracy of lookalike audiences. 

3. Get onboard with ad platforms early betas & alphas 

Google wants to “eliminate third-party cookies by replacing them with viable privacy-first alternatives, developed alongside ecosystem partners, that will help publishers and advertisers succeed while also protecting people’s privacy as they move across the web.”

Considering measurement, audiences and ad fraud as part of their privacy first solution.

Whilst access to alpha and beta programmes might not be instantly available outside agency relationships, keep an eye out for innovations such as “enhanced conversions” on Google or take the time to build a strategy around facebook ios  and the impact this will have.

As Google suggests, “stay engaged in the public discussions about the Privacy Sandbox proposals in forums like the W3C’s Improving Web Advertising Business Group, or work with your technology partners to evaluate and experiment with the proposals that are already in origin trials. Together, we can reshape the web so that it works better for everyone.”

Google have now explicitly stated  “once third-party cookies are phased out, we will not build alternate identifiers to track individuals as they browse across the web, nor will we use them in our products” but they will be using FLoC-based cohorts for advertisers that will start to roll out next month.

4. Invest in social & contextual advertising

Social and Contextual targeting is smarter than ever now, utilising machine learning and data signals to ensure that is performs based on content and user behaviour. It works like this (Digiday)

  • Content around ad inventory on a webpage, social profile, user behaviour or the entities and themes present within a video, are extracted and passed to an optimization engine.
  • The content is then evaluated on multiple criteria: safety, suitability, relevance and context. 
  • Advanced targeting solutions layer-in additional real-time data related to the viewer’s context when the ad is viewed, such as time of day and location.
  • If it is brand safe and meets sentiment priorities, DSPs continue with the auction (i.e. the media buy). 

This gives advertisers access to inventory, engaged audiences and high performance without the need for cookies.

5. Don’t freak out .. 

This is still only on paper and whilst you have to take some action soon, the tech giants will have their own solution which will be well promoted before the final cookie retirement. 

Whilst Google and Facebook are moving to more privacy based alternatives, it is unlikely they will give up this slice of the pie.

Potentially building their own data onboarding tools, increasing match rates on data, persistent user IDs, increased use of QR codes or NFC codes .. this is all pure speculation of course but with the advent of a cookieless future there is no way the companies that exist solely on the back of data and advertising will not have a full, if not better solution to provide to their advertisers. 

In summary – a cookieless future is coming.   Keep yourself updated with the latest trends and industry news and you’ll ride the next digital wave with ease!

If you want to discuss all things cookie over a virtual coffee – please set up some time with our team