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Navigating the Cookie-Less Advertising Landscape: A Guide to Marketing Attribution in a Post-Cookie World

Cookie on a Computer

In 2020, Google announced its plan to deprecate third-party cookies by the end of 2021 (now postponed to 2024), followed by Apple’s decision to limit the use of its mobile device ID (IDFA) across iOS applications. As these changes draw near, brands worldwide face a significant shift in their advertising strategies, considering the central role third-party cookies play in shaping ad targeting, frequency, measurement, and personalisation.

Adapting to this new landscape may seem daunting, but understanding the implications of cookie deprecation on marketing attribution and implementing the right strategies can help businesses continue reaching their customers effectively.

The Impact of Cookie Deprecation on Marketing Strategies

The deprecation of third-party cookies will profoundly alter how businesses manage advertising campaigns and connect with potential customers. Previously, third-party cookies were the primary tool for understanding and analysing customer behaviour, including recent purchases, interests, online habits, and frequently visited websites.
This allowed marketing teams to create detailed visitor profiles and launch highly targeted campaigns. Research by Epsilon reveals that around 80% of advertisers heavily rely on third-party cookies, and nearly 70% of them are feeling overwhelmed by the news of cookie deprecation and the uncertainty of how to proceed.

Challenges for Marketing Attribution

Attribution modelling, an essential aspect of any marketing strategy, heavily depends on third-party cookies for tracking customers, monitoring impressions, and measuring conversions. With the diminishing ability to use third-party cookies for customer identification, targeting, frequency capping, and user tracking, retargeting will become less effective. Moreover, assessing the success of campaigns through last-click attribution will no longer be reliable or accurate.

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Steps to Enhance Marketing Attribution

Transitioning into a cookie-less world requires focused efforts to maintain effective marketing attribution and understand the value of different channels in reaching customers. Here are key steps to consider:

1. Communication and Education

As marketing teams grapple with these changes, it’s crucial to communicate and educate all stakeholders within the organisation. Informing them about upcoming changes and their potential impact on work processes will help build trust and alignment. Differentiating between first, second, and third-party data and providing a high-level overview of the ‘cookie-less’ world will alleviate concerns and ensure unified efforts toward privacy-first practices.

2. Embrace First-Party Data

With third-party data no longer available, adopting a first-party data strategy becomes essential. Utilising information unique to your specific customers enables more precise and relevant targeting. Marketers should identify where third-party data was previously used and explore available first-party data sources while offering value to customers to obtain their consent for data collection in the future.

3. Optimise Your Tech Stack

Creating a single customer view necessitates investment in technology that centralises all first-party data collected from various sources, such as CRM, POS, and websites. This holistic view of audiences lays the foundation for a more personalised customer experience, leading to improved ROI.

Conclusion

The impending deprecation of third-party cookies requires a thoughtful approach to marketing attribution in the advertising space. By embracing first-party data and optimising tech infrastructure, businesses can continue understanding their customers, meet their needs, and navigate these changes smoothly while maintaining effective marketing campaigns.