What the Downfall of Web Cookies Means for Advertising
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With initiatives to prioritize consumer privacy by companies like Apple, app trackers and third-party cookies are disappearing, which is impacting the efficiency of traditional methods for performance advertising.
How does paying 25% more to reach the same audience this coming year sound? While nobody wants to spend more to get less or the same, that is going to be the reality for 44% of marketers, according to GetApp.
Perhaps this increased cost is a fact that you have accepted already. Maybe you’re not ready to make drastic changes to your advertising approach, or your company has decided to reduce its advertising budget. But what if you have to spend 50% or more for the same audience the following year? At what point will the pain become too much that you are forced to make a complete baseline paradigm shift? What’s really at risk here?
Related: Data in 4 Flavors, and the Demise of the Cookie
The downfall of the cookie
That we are forced to pay more with less quality of tracking and measurement really shouldn’t come as a surprise. The whole space has been the Wild West for so long, and third-party tracking has made it easy to find our target audience — something had to give.
In advertising, we’ve had easy access to audiences. If someone looks at Perrier on one website and then sparkling water on another, cookies tell us they are in the market for beverages. However, for consumers, the disconcerting experience of talking about cats with your phone nearby and then being presented with cat food ads on Facebook seems to have crossed a line: it’s just plain creepy. In fact, 69% of people are concerned with how their data is collected.
We are still in the Wild West. Even though the EU adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), privacy experts question its robustness. In the U.S. — where a U.S. version of GDPR hasn’t been passed by Congress — companies are basically only required to display pop-ups that prompt users to accept all cookies or not and 76% of people choose to ignore it. Who’s really going into the advanced cookie settings and carefully selecting 36 different tracking options on every website they visit?
What’s most at-risk is discovering who our audience is, what they are interested in and where they are hanging out so we know where to serve them best. If we play our cards right, it could be a win-win situation instead: Customers could be served ads they are actually interested in (and in the medium they prefer) while advertisers can become more efficient and stop wasting money serving ads to people who aren’t interested.
This becomes a question of data: Who’s got the best first-party data, and how do we make the most of it?
Powerful data, served up fresh (and safe)
Fortunately for us, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel; the framework for obtaining and leveraging powerful data is out there already; we just need to use it. Things like retail media and first-party shopper data aren’t typical media investments for marketers and can be overlooked easily, but regardless of whether you sell a physical product in the retail space, retail media platforms have incredible tools to activate for your brand.
Retail media data is better because it provides a clearer picture of who is actually in the market. Just think of what all that single sign-in user information from Amazon can provide — everything a customer buys; the movies they watch; all the items they spend time looking at across all the web properties Amazon owns like IMDB or DPreview — the list goes on.
Let’s dig deeper and consider all of the companies that Amazon owns, like MGM Studios. Amazon is buying bits and pieces of what are powerful touchpoints to identify customer interest, age and preferences to create a comprehensive view of the audience.
Now, when I skip past all the horror films to watch my favorite new comedy, Amazon knows what I like. When I binge a new Podcast on Wonderly, it gives insights into what captivates me. Combine that with Amazon’s ownership of other publications like Twitch — the top game-streaming platform in the U.S. — Alexa devices and Whole Foods, and not only does Amazon have the data but it also has the avenues to communicate with audiences.
In contrast with the creepy social media ads that seem to know a little too much, most first-party data is brand-safe. For instance, Amazon has spent the last 20 years becoming one of America’s most trusted companies, and it wouldn’t risk that by tinkering with data in an unscrupulous way. Thus, leveraging this type of information allows us to identify audiences in a way that is safe for our brands, all while being comprehensive and giving us access to premium advertising inventory.
Related: How Marketers Can Prepare for the Removal of Third-Party Cookies
As we adapt to the changing tides of the digital advertising landscape, a new way is necessary — and the solution really isn’t complicated. While 81% of companies still are dependent on the sinking ship of third-party cookies, we can use our own first-party data combined with retailer data through Amazon Marketing Cloud to create a powerful picture of our consumers and serve them ads where they congregate.
This goes beyond simple awareness advertising — which doesn’t have many useful metrics (in the prehistoric days of TV and radio, it was really just general demographic data from surveys) — by tying that awareness to a specific event. With a clickable icon or a QR code in a StreamingTV, we now have traffic to the landing page and information about how people interacted with it — a constant feed of measurable and trackable consumer behavior.
And we can do all this, from discovering our audience and shopper behavior to ad platforms and measurement, while getting the most out of our advertising dollars and respecting our customers’ privacy.
Take that, cookies.