Marketers and advertisers are entering a new era; that of the cookieless world. While tracking cookies have been a stalwart of the digital ad space for years, they have seen their usefulness decline as mobile devices have become more popular and consumer journeys less linear. Plus, privacy concerns have seen the likes of Facebook, Apple and Google take steps to limit their use or phase them out altogether.

So, how has Adrac been preparing for this new age of advertising? Here, we’re sharing some of the steps we’ve been taking in readiness for this shift.

First and foremost we’re staying calm.

The move away from tracking cookies hits right at the heart of a fundamental aspect of digital marketing. Cookies have been part of the digital landscape almost as long as digital marketing has been a feature of marketing budgets. The change, despite being necessary is daunting for many advertisers.  

Why get rid of cookies? Simple. Not everyone loves cookies.

Fundamentally, if the consumer’s rights are not protected the very elements that generate the revenue that advertising platforms rely on will no longer be available because users will leave in droves. If they no longer feel safe or protected by the platform and numbers drop, the reason that advertisers allocate budget to that platform no longer exists.

The digital world is very much chicken and egg driven, or to put it another way symbiotic – it cannot exist without reference, respect, and consideration of each aspect.

Ensuring advertising remains effective is as fundamental a requirement as user safety because without the billions of advertising dollars tech giants pull in each year, they won’t have the revenue streams needed to innovate. That means mankind misses out (or at the very least) has to wait that little longer for breakthroughs.

Taking all of this into account, there’s no need to panic but there is a clear need adapt.

The first thing Adrac is doing is encouraging clients to save their data. Whether that comes in flat formats, from reporting platforms, conversion funnels or user journeys download it, take screen shots and perform data dumps so that you have an archive to refer back to in the short term while the new elements come into play.

Trust our experience this one single exercise will, in the short term, save your sanity.  

We’re also learning to eat cake in a cookieless world

There are huge implications for the loss of fidelity in relation to user behaviour and this has varying degrees of immediate, medium and longer-term impact. There is for example no recorded dimension that uses cookies as a signal for organic Google or Bing rankings however because conversion data is no longer the same, identifying “money” phrases requires a more developed approach across several disciplines (sales, marketing, finance). It’s no coincidence that demand for data science specialists has grown in recent times. Adrac continues to invest in data sciences. In fact, we now have an entire division dedicated to the science of data. We’re calling on this division more and more, most recently to lead a complete overhaul of the default Adrac performance reporting platform.

Ensuring you take time to understand the “aggregation” that will be applied and how it works is fundamental to ensuring you appreciate data anomalies and the assumptions that are now being used when reporting on performance. Adrac’s internal teams are being educated in each of three key attribution reporting formula and approaches to ensure they understand the changes.

Above means our teams are better equipped to understand real performance impact and reported performance impact. Ensuring open and accurate communication channels and feedback on coal face performance has always been important but now becomes vital for example. Recorded conversions may be down but actual conversions may not necessarily be down. Knowing this is one thing and communicating it to your marketing partners may give a significant competitive advantage as others make wholesales changes not understanding that it is the reporting NOT the outputs that have changed.

Understanding remarketing campaigns

Remarketing – a significant contributor to the market value of display-based advertising positions over the last decade or so – is possibly the most drastically impacted element of the move towards a cookieless ecosystem. Without specific user behaviour readily accessible, retargeting and remarketing cottage industries seem doomed.

The teams here at Adrac have been instructed to monitor performance in order to measure impact. Recent pivots and testing towards cohort and “similar” audience clusters yield mixed results but, unanimously, expected to improve. 

Find the Jamie Dodger.

Adrac’s advertising experts have been using In-market and Affinity audiences since before the official launch. This is one of the benefits of being a Google Premier Partner. We feel confident that the necessary investment in Cohorts and audience aggregation will be for in-market and affinity what the advent of keyword targeting was for GoTo even before the millennium.

The expectation is these two dimensions will flourish and more then compensate for any possible reductions in remarketing, given advertisers access to significantly larger audience pools.

We may see a bump or two in the road but given the sheer volume of data that is pumped through the servers at Facebook/Google, coupled with AI and Machine Learning, it’s not going to take long at all (roll in the technical singularity paradox) to truly adapt.

It’s not all roses though.

One of the biggest impacts to date (and in our humble opinion a somewhat neglected consideration by big tech) can be seen in the Facebook, Microsoft and Google APIs. From Attribution aggregation down to actual conversion recording, the APIs do not appear to be anywhere near aligned with the changes being broadcast. If you are using these – especially if feeding into aggregated or simplified reporting platforms – check them. Chances are your numbers no longer align with your delivery platforms because of reasons such as limited to conversion window differences, campaign level settings and attribution models that do not all align.

Conclusion

The world is spooked and nervous on the user privacy side, client side and tech side. Things couldn’t go on as they are, and change is inevitable. Taking time to understand the changes including the Why ensures that possible pitfalls are avoided. Adrac is taking a multi-standard approach dealing with this new reality, and seeking to understand the new opportunity that is presenting itself, even as we also tackle slower pixel data development and reduced budget allocations on remarketing, we’re also experiencing a renewed vigour in setting up affinity audiences.   

Read our special cookieless world series here:

Author Rebecca

More posts by Rebecca
shares