Preparing for the loss of third-party cookie

As advertisers work on mitigation strategies to address the impending deprecation of third-party cookies and loss of mobile identifiers, adopting a solution with sufficient scale will be key.

Advertisers will likely need to leverage several solutions to replicate existing functionality, potentially solutions by environments.

Exploring new data currencies

The most promising candidates for a new data currency so far include a pseudonymized ID, a hashed PII identifier, and aggregated cohort browser data.

Each of these identifiers collects and shares data differently, so it’s important to understand how they work before determining your strategy. At a high level:

  • A pseudonymized ID allows you to leverage PII to generate an artificial ID while reducing the linkage of the ID to the original PII.
  • A hashed PII identifier allows you to share an encrypted ID that can resolve back to a single user.
  • Aggregated cohort browser data creates an audience bound together by a common identifier, such as browsing interests, user agent, or a non-cookie-based signal like daypart or context.

Use the extra time to strategize

Now that Chrome has extended support for third-party cookies until the end of 2023, we must use this time to assess current media tactics, test potential solutions, and develop mitigation strategies and short-term stopgaps.

The solutions implemented for 2023 may not be the right ones in 2024 or the year after. Advertisers need to monitor performance, be agile and adjust, while keeping their business goals at the center.

Here are the four steps we suggest to prepare for the loss of third-party cookies in Chrome.

Take the first step to audit and assess

While we wait for Google’s Privacy Sandbox APIs to be released late next year, and while identity solutions continue to be refined and scaled up, we strongly recommend advertisers begin with the first step to audit and assess their current strategies.

Take stock of your first-party data. How do you capture and activate your first-party data? Do you rely on cookies to activate it? This may be a good time to start capturing opt-in emails and enriching your own data directly.

Assess your partners. What platforms and partners do you buy media from? What signals do they use for their datasets? Which ones rely heavily on cookies?

Assess your reliance on third-party cookies. If cookies go away tomorrow, where is the disruption in your value chain? Where are cookies being dropped on your website(s)? Would you be able to activate, optimize and measure media based on how things are set up today? How does the loss of third-party cookies impact your overall marketing measurement framework?

Assess your channel allocation. Which partners do you use? In which environments, across what screens and using what types of data? Each channel and form factor will experience a different level of impact.

Review your optimization strategy. Take a look at how your media KPIs inform campaign optimization. Do you use manual or automated optimizations? Do your media partners leverage cookies to make optimizations on your behalf?

Examine your attribution models. What tech do you currently use to determine attribution? How are these solutions powered? Understanding how you measure and allocate the impact of your marketing efforts is a foundational step to informing your strategy in a cookie-less world.

Hearts has developed a template to provide this audit and assessment for our clients. If you’re interested, please reach out to [email protected].

Then plan, implement, and monitor

As you complete the assessments, here are five things to consider for the other phases of planning, implementation and monitoring.

Audience segmentation. Leverage the insights from your media testing to identify new signals that can be used to create predictive audiences.

Targeting. Explore further usage of CRM data and how second-party data from the likes of Google, Facebook and Amazon can replace third-party segments since “platform” data uses several signals and is less reliant on cookies or mobile IDs. How can contextual targeting strategies be added for both web and in-app media campaigns?

Optimizations. Leverage A/B testing to see if you can achieve the same effectiveness and media KPIs.

Performance. Begin testing inventory and screening contextual targeting tactics to build a capacity, knowledge base and dataset. Understand the overlap and correlation between non-cookie-based signals and your audience delivery.

Measurement/attribution. Continue to leverage media mix modeling (MMM) solutions to inform your marketing decisions at a channel level. Complement this modeling with incrementality testing to understand how your current strategies can drive additional value. Explore clean room(s), set them up, and begin to leverage them before they’re the only solution.

Moving forward

Now is the time to prepare for a future where third-party cookies are no longer available. While Chrome has extended support for third-party cookies until the end of 2023, don’t delay in assessing your current data strategies and planning for a future without them.

For more on the future of ad targeting, check out How AI will save ad targeting from the Cookiepocalypse.