The fate of cookies was one of the hottest topics at the 4A’s Decision 2021 Conference. Several panels examined the effects on targeting to consumer consent to tech solutions. According to these discussions and a recent announcement from Google, the cookie jar may be empty very soon.
What could a cookie-less future look like?
- In the past, consent was essentially assumed. In the future, consent must be explicit, and brands will need to give users a reason to supply their information. Currently, there is a low volume of logged-in user information versus cookie data. The industry needs to find ways to access this data, through value exchange with consumers, to mitigate the loss of cookie data.
- The direct publisher buy may be making a comeback. When we can no longer rely on a cookie to follow our target, we need to rethink the buy. It might make more sense to find a publisher that indexes well for our target audience, across content that is relevant to that audience.
- Contextual targeting will serve as a strategic alternative to cookies. This alternative will allow you to reach a desired audience without relying on direct consumer information. However technological developments in this area need to improve.
- Targeting groups based on activities and then targeting these groups can also serve as an alternative to the one to one targeting. Google recently announced their FLoC technology, based on this group approach. ComScore shared a similar solution leveraging their panels to build target segments, rather than using individual identifiers.
Last week, Google took a step further when they announced that, once third-party cookies go away, they will not have an alternative way to target individuals. Instead, they are continuing to focus on solutions that are group-based, allowing individuals to remain anonymous.
We don’t think there will be one solution to the loss of cookies in the future; instead, there will be multiple solutions that advertisers will need to test and use in combination, to continue engage their target audiences.
The digital industry is always changing, and that evolution has persisted for over two decades. The industry, in times of change, reacts by innovating. While the short-term effects of the cookie-less future may be dramatic, we expect new strategies to drive effectiveness in digital media—and maybe even create better ways of targeting and measuring results.