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how to prepare for a cookieless future

Cookies have served as an integral part of the digital marketing ecosystem to leverage user data for the purpose of targeting and retargeting the audiences. However, raising concerns about privacy breaching and scandals have paved a way for a newer future, possibly without cookies. As a result, digital marketers are now on a hunt to find something else to suffice their sweet tooth or probably live a sugar-free life.

The GDPR has reiterated the fact that the user data is to be used with the utmost care and precaution. To address this concern, Google is to curtail the use of cookies within the next two years. With a worldwide market share of about 66%, the new policy is sure to lead to many changes in the ad-tech world. Let’s dive deeper. (1)

Impact on Programmatic Industry

Impact of cookieless future on programmatic

Third-party cookies have served to be the base of the publishers to measure, track, and identify user behavior. Although there are a number of questions circling around this whole cookie crumbling policy, what’s important to note is that personalized digital advertising is here to stay. However, the technical stuff which would support it might change in order to fit the motive of the policy which is to let consumers have their privacy.

At this point, there are innumerable changes taking place both in the RTB ecosystem and the closed environments like Google. They are onto constructing new ‘privacy first’ platforms which would allow data science solutions to be conducted inclusively while also prioritizing the security and privacy of consumers without obstructing innovation. ADH, Google’s Ads Data Hub is the latest cleanroom at the moment.

Impact on Publishers

Impact of cookieless future on publishers

For publishers, third-party cookies have been a crucial part, and removing them would mean that they won’t be able to make an audience list to deliver tailored ads. Applying frequency caps will become difficult which will lead to the repetition of ads and eventually they’ll be at risk of annoying their audiences.

As we said earlier, it’d become difficult for publishers to target and retarget audiences across the Internet for various purposes like marketing campaigns, affiliate marketing, etc. Measuring and keeping an eye on the real-time performance of ads will get difficult and all these constraints will lead to difficulties in monetizing their traffic.

A survey conducted by Google concluded that the loss of about 52% of the programmatic revenue will be born by the publishers due to the cookie crumbling. (2) With the new policy in place, practices like cookie stuffing and bid listening will be put an end to as the entire industry is forced to rethink and innovate new ways to communicate with their consumers.

How Can Publishers Prepare For A Cookieless Future?

  1. Start using consent management platforms that could make the process of obtaining consent on the websites easier. These platforms ensure that you’ve access to understanding how the user’s data is used so you can be careful about violating the laws.
  2. There’s also been an increased shift towards customer data platforms that provide high-end analytics and tools to gather and save first-party data.
  3. In absence of CDP, a property-configured Analytics account can be set up to understand the audience which can lead to ways to monetize the traffic efficiently.
  4. There’s a need to become transparent about the data collection and providing users with enough control over their data. Let them know how their data is being collected and how will it used, with whom will it be shared, etc.
  5. Leverage first-party data more than ever. Adopt practices like paid subscriptions, virtual events, etc to build a relationship with your audience and gather first-party data effectively.

Impact on Advertisers

 Impact of cookieless future on advertisers

For around two decades, cookies served as an integral part of the whole advertising ecosystem providing advertisers with the data they can use to target the users with said ads. Now with cookies no more in use, advertisers will no longer be able to retarget their ads, carry out behavioral targeting, audience targeting, view-through attribution, etc. However, there’s still hope and although the impact of a cookieless future is still unclear, we have got a fair amount of tips for advertisers to prepare for it.

How Can Advertisers Prepare For A Cookieless Future?

  1. Leverage cookieless channels like contextual targeting. It’s an old-school marketing gimmick that doesn’t rely on personal data but the website content to deliver the right ads to the right audience. We’ve covered an in-depth article on everything you need to know about contextual advertising which can be accessed here.
  2. Focus on content marketing strategies now more than ever. Make sure your messaging is compelling with visually appealing creatives.
  3. Practice whitelisting, meaning target the list of domains or channels that are relevant to your industry which will let the user notice many related ads and timely optimization of the better performing site will lead to a high conversion rate.
  4. Work on building your first-part data. This will help you effectively carry out audience targeting with the help of a cross-device identity graph. Having first-party data also helps in strengthening your relationship with consumers and hence enhanced communication.

Final note: Cookie crumbling might look like an apocalypse but remember it also did when the whole ad-blocking trend came to rise. But, we as an industry did come out of it stronger with effective lessons and opportunities and we will do the same yet again. Remember that tailored advertising is here to stay, although the mechanisms might change. A cookieless world will certainly bring out challenges but an equal number of opportunities, the key is to be proactive and nor reactive.

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