After announcing a delay of two years in its plan to end support for third-party cookies on its Chrome browser in mid-2021, a year later, search giant Google pushed the timeline further to end-2024. As is known, the primary impact of lack of third-party cookies is that it is more difficult for advertisers to track web activity, which impacts targeting. While players like Safari (2020) and Firefox (2019) have been ahead of the curve, Chrome’s dominant share of search (66pc, Nov ‘22 – Gs.StatCounter.com) makes its moves in the space significant for marketers.
As 2023 marks the road to a cookieless future in 2024, Medianews4u.com spoke with practitioners to understand what awaits advertisers on this road ahead.
“The cookie-less future is already here, since the third-party cookies have already disappeared on both Safari and Firefox. The final death knell will ring when Google completely stops supporting third-party cookies on its Chrome browser. A recent survey overseen by Boston Consulting Group, partnered with LinkedIn, concluded that 39pc of marketers affirmed that data losses have already begun affecting their marketing performance and 56 pc expected this impact to grow,” observes Kowshik Komandur, AVP at OnMobile Global Limited.
Third-party cookies might be going away but not the tracking. First-party data is going to be a big part of the “cookie-less future”, affirm practitioners.
“A whole host of different targeting methods are springing up to fill the void. Businesses will have to find other ways to access this information through membership cards, loyalty programs, e-mail subscribers, social media insights, opt-in mechanisms and more. That means, the days of ‘easy e-commerce’ are numbered,” adds Komandur.
“While we will lose out on a large database to target our audience, all is not lost, we will still have a relevant database to target the audience from those who accept cookies,” says Pravin Menon, Chief Marketing Officer, Veranda Learning.
According to him, the brand has been using first-party data to a large extent and leveraged its content capabilities to reach out to its target audience.
“Content marketing gives us a far better audience profile and leads at a much lesser cost. We will leverage content marketing and first-party data in the future too,” he adds.
According to Kiran James, Associate Vice President – Marketing & Product Management, Muthoottu Mini, the brand has been working on multiple strategies and testing approaches continuously to stand out and make an impact in the cookieless world.
“We have been working with our agencies to ensure we have the right set of media mixes as we approach 2023 and prepare for 2024 to ensure the shift is seamless for the business. We have successfully developed campaigns through API integration with our partners ensuring the right message reaches the right audiences and has a higher share of voice in our core customer segment,” James adds.
Muthoot Mini is also hopeful that the topics methodology of Google will bring in a breath of fresh air for the business and deliver on the promise of balancing ad revenues and privacy for advertisers and users alike, leaving advertisers on a good ground to meet its targets.
“From a digital advertising perspective, privacy of customers will become the prime importance and will focus only on audience interest/behavior over a wide geography landscape. With no website browser cookies, first-party data will have more weightage and advertisers will strive to bank on this potential,” notes Khushboo Gandhi, Founder, QueenBee Digital.
How should advertisers and agencies prepare?
“We have been preparing and learning to target our audience in the digital space, using cookies or otherwise. Apart from programmatic and display ads, we have to experiment and learn from various options available in the digital space, whether its native content, usage of influencers, branded content or first party data. There will be various options available, we need to explore and understand what works for us,” notes Menon.
The road ahead will see the further exploration of data and technology to create aligned and personalised experiences.
According to Komandur, the focus will shift significantly towards building a ‘relationship’ with the end consumers by improving their user experience.
“As a marketer, this means that there’s not a minute to waste in getting ready for the new world of digital marketing. Not only does this involve building up a solid, consented first-party data asset, but involves assembling a whole new suite of addressability solutions where previously there were just third-party cookies,” he notes.
Jasmini Vinarkar, Senior Performance Marketing Manager at Imarticus Learning, says the market is still trying to figure out tools available in the market that are future-proof and privacy-forward with respect to consumers.
“Contextual advertising is one way to deal with a cookie-less world,” she observes.
Gandhi says that the preparation has already started for agencies and advertisers in implementation of cookie-less tracking and focus on audience segmentation.
“Brand value and positioning have begun to gain significance more than ever. So internally, there’s a special project team that has been set up by agencies to ensure the smooth transition to what’s coming next,” she adds.
“We always work on de-risking the business. We have always believed in ensuring that none of the levers is over-leveraged for the business, and digital has been one among them, ensuring there is no impact on the activities we do on/through the digital platform. We have been actively working with our agencies and tech partners by making relevant changes in first-party data acquisition, privacy policies, testing new platforms, developing new customer acquisition approaches, testing and redefining customer journeys, etc., from 2021 to lower the dependency on one particular media/source to deliver business goals,” says James.
“2023 will be a watershed moment for us when our approach on multiple fronts will be implemented through time-tested strategies. We have been working on it for the last two years, ensuring that we take this as an opportunity and not as a business challenge,” he surmises.