Cookie-less Future: Time to make it a part of your Annual Planning

Adgully will be bringing a series of articles and interactions as part of Digital Unplugged - Zenith Insights over the next few months. Presented by Zenith, the thought series is part of the Cookieless Future initiative, wherein Zenith envisages the changes and opportunities that arise out of Google announcing that it will phase out third-party cookies in the Chrome browser. How can advertisers prepare for a cookieless future? Read on to find out.

With Google announcing (in June 2021) the extension of the deprecation of 3rd Party Cookies by 2023, the preparatory leave (to address the cookie-less situation) seems to have got extended for all players in the ecosystem. Does that mean we stop preparing for the final exam and procrastinate or labour hard towards preparing ourselves to tide over all the challenges that we might encounter in 2023?

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This sense of relief is ephemeral. The clock hasn’t stopped ticking and its quite apparent that if Google requires an additional two years to set its house in order, agencies, advertisers, publishers, Ad-tech and Mar-tech players cannot go into a state of complacency.

Does it look like a distant Problem?

“The best way to deal with procrastination is to postpone it.” - Tony Robbins

While it appears to be a distant problem, causing many companies to prioritise more urgent tasks versus plan ahead for this shift, we feel that players who stand up and take notice of this change now will be the successful ones post 2023.

The deadline extension is a blessing in disguise and we feel marketers and other players should step up and can start taking few actions which will hold them in good stead going forward.

How big is the Challenge?

“All problems become smaller when you confront them instead of dodging them.” – William F. Halsey

The short answer to this is – HUGE. And it’s even colossal until a very credible solution comes into being. The cookie was invented in 1994 and the digital industry, over the last two decades, has been shaped and built on “COOKIES” with respect to targeting, retargeting, measurement and attribution. All that is going to change. 2023 will mark the beginning of a new digital era built on completely new solutions that respect Consumer Privacy with “Customer Centricity” as the cynosure of all marketing activities.

What should we do?

Being “aware” of the problem sets you ahead of others, in the first place, itself. There are few actions that marketers should take towards addressing the challenge during the “preparatory” leave as some of them will require you to relook, rejig, restructure, and reassess the approach that you have taken so far and realign the resources (and may be overhaul, for some) to successfully and seamlessly transition into the new cookie-less world.

It is important to note that despite the delayed timelines, consumers still demand choice and transparency about their data. Advertisers should continue to push forward in understanding and assessing opportunities across consented data assets, AI, measurement and technology upgrades that futureproof against a cookie less future and position them to succeed today. They want to make sure the brand knows who they are, and the brand can actually react to them. Marketers will be challenged to collect information to create those experiences only after getting the right permissions from consumers.

Let’s not forget the Latin proverb “Fortis Fortuns Adiuat”. I would also like to add, it also favours the best prepared!

Let’s Prepare

This extended timeline to the end of 2023 allows for additional runway for the right types of solutions to be proposed, developed, and tested across the publishers and advertisers that put the consumer first. At its core, there is a need for the advertising industry to focus on customer centricity while figuring out the technical solutions that support advertising use cases.

Advertisers should continue to push forward in understanding and assessing opportunities across consented data assets, AI, measurement and technology upgrades that futureproof against a cookieless future and position them to succeed today.

The following areas can be considered as a starting point:

Technology Opportunities

  • Technology – Focus on technology that enables advertisers to centralise and operationalise their own first-party data can allow for additional and better opportunities for higher quality second-party relationships with either publishers or other brands.
  • First Party Publisher Solutions - Advertisers should also not overlook the various first-party publisher solutions that are already in market, driven by Publicis Verified SSP and publisher relationships. New Contextual Solutions from various partners should also be assessed and tested.
  • DMP to CDP-Start the discovery process of upgrading an existing DMP to a CDP (or CDP-like technology) to unlock AI capabilities that are native to CDP technology.

Consumer Experiences

  • Consented Data - Invest in efforts that create direct-to-consumer experiences to earn consented opt-ins. This data will become increasingly important and be necessary for re-messaging/ remarketing to consumers when 3P cookies are deprecated.
  • Zero Party Data - A new channel to explore to drive direct-to-consumer experiences is conversational marketing (which focuses on zero party or declared data) – often an untapped opportunity that leverages a first-party data sourcing concept.
  • Loyalty Programs - The use of QR Codes as a user-friendly means to drive first-party data sourcing and loyalty programs is on the rise.

We know many brands were on their journey to increase personalisation across all consumers’ touchpoints before Google’s announcements, and the journey should continue without pause. The need for brands to continue to future proof their business is stronger than ever in order to make announcements from tech companies like Google and Apple and laws from regulators less disruptive in the future.

Over the next year, advertisers need to be more selective, pragmatic and measured around their cookieless plans for activation, optimisation and measurement. It’s important to note that testing schemas look different for each advertiser and should align to strategic technology investments and global data sourcing strategies that support key use cases across digital media, supply chain optimisation, personalisation and customer relations.

We are ready and prepared to help you navigate through this “Big Opportunity”. Start now. Give us a Shout!

(Authored by Anil Pandit, SVP - Precision, Publicis Media.)


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