As more and more online companies respect their users and limit or restrict the use of third-party cookies, the entire ad tech ecosystem is facing profound changes.
Accurate measurement requires high quality, sustainable data from first party suppliers. However, current ad measurement tools are based on third-party audiences: the solution provider has no direct relationship with the person exposed to advertising. Providers have therefore relied on third-party cookies to determine who was exposed to which ad. With Google planning to join Firefox and Safari to expire third-party cookies in less than two years, the traditional way of measuring ads will have to reinvent itself.
That’s a frightening prospect for the digital advertising ecosystem. The ANA and 4As have recorded their disappointment with the death of the cookie. However, it should be remembered that the cookie has its shortcomings. Cookies only paint a partial picture of a brand’s audience. Accordingly, forcing the advertising industry to introduce more accurate measurement solutions will be a positive development for marketers.
Yes, the change will take work and bring increasing pain, but it will also lead to a more thorough understanding of your company’s target audience and campaign performance.
The future of measurement and its impact on publishers
Cookies were created as connection points. Maybe they should have been called “crumbs”. After all, they only provide a fragmented picture of the customer journey and have created a mess that users and platforms alike are trying to clean up. They have never been 100% accurate or powerful enough to provide a continuous view of consumer behavior.
Cookies are also problematic beyond the point connection problem:
- First, they are unreliably durable. Regardless of whether a cookie expires or is manually deleted by a user, it can go away at inconvenient times.
- Second, some cookies are not recorded at all, e.g. B. when users turn to ad blockers and other tools to block them.
- Third, cookies are device specific and don’t work well on mobile devices – especially in apps.
The industry has long accepted that cookies meet minimum measurement requirements – just enough to get through. However, a growing number of marketers have been looking for more meaningful and complete measurement solutions, even outside of the changing regulations.
What is this more complete measurement solution? The simplest answer is permission-based audiences and first-party technologies – solutions that don’t require cookies, identity mapping, or onboarding.
Identity-based publishers who have direct relationships with users are in a unique position to survive or even benefit from the decline of cookies because they can measure performance without cookies. The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other publishers with subscription services; social networks, including Facebook and YouTube; and Amazon all offer identity-based measurement solutions.
The upcoming change in metrics is a tough pill for publishers – especially in the news industry – as many news companies don’t require users to log in to access content. You are faced with a puzzle: people want their messages to be sent instantly. Having to sign in can have a negative impact on the user base and reduce impressions. However, organizations in need of user IDs get identity-based targeting and measurement capabilities – through powerful, first-party data.
A growing number of publishers are adopting subscription or membership models, not only because digital subscriptions are a valuable source of income, but also because they can use first-party data to realign users, better understand their needs, and make their platform more effective create targeted advertising programs with precise measurement functions.
Companies lacking first-party data are trying to find a unique measurement approach and deliver addressable advertising. Currently, the workaround is to use IP addresses as a proxy for third-party cookies. However, the solution isn’t perfect as some households have dynamic IP addresses that change every few days or even every 30 minutes to protect privacy and security.
Publishers without identity-based measurement
eMarketer estimates that nearly 88%, or $ 81 billion, of total digital display ad spend in the US will be programmatic by 2021. Programmatic advertising is based on the use of the cookie, so companies develop a real void in what they can and cannot measure. because not every company has an identity-based audience.
For those who don’t, the option is to resort to a “spray and pray” model which could lower CPMs as the target audiences cost more. From a measurement point of view, publishers use “spot measurement”, for which they measure small parts of a campaign. This leads to measurement gaps, questionable conclusions, and a difficulty in proving an incremental value.
Publishers should start asking questions of their measurement solution providers now to prepare for the not-too-distant future without cookies:
- How can you measure the true value of my media without relying on cookies?
- How can you provide continuous line of sight to break the behavior after ad exposure?
- How do you measure the impact of ad exposure, even when users are anonymous?
The crumbling of cookies will undoubtedly create challenges, but it will also drive the marketing and advertising industries forward. This will force publishers and advertisers to demand better measurement solutions.
Adjusting to measure in a world without cookies is not easy, but taking on the challenge leads to better solutions and more effective advertising.