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With Google, Apple, and other tech giants phasing out third-party cookies, the process promises to be one of the biggest shake-ups in tech and digital advertising history. But though its completion is still some way off, creative and digital production agencies are preparing for the changes a cookieless world will bring. But a key challenge remains: How will you measure value and ROI on your ad spend without third-party cookies?

A cookieless future

Being able to track online users via third-party cookies was crucial for marketers and digital advertisers to measure data-driven performance, check KPIs, and deliver an ROI on a marketing budget. But as privacy becomes more important to consumers, the third-party cookies that helped provide the data are set to disappear and with it the link between impression and action.

The reboot of digital advertising in a cookieless world and what it will look like is yet to be fully realised. But, as a tiny tool with a dominant status, the lack of a third-party cookie will make identifying, grouping, and targeting users – as well as being able to report on user behaviour and conversions effectively – more challenging.

Looking for alternative strategies

The very real issue now facing the digital industry is looking for alternative strategies to measure marketing value and ad performance – without third-party cookies.

One thing that marketers don’t need to worry too much about is the so-called ad tech ‘walled gardens’ of Facebook, Google, and TikTok. With these tech giants going in hard on first-party data collected directly from their own customers, data should still be collected when users log in, attributing conversions to impressions.

But the key is to measure the data that comes from outside those walled gardens on the ‘anonymous’ web. Getting the right data and information here will directly affect your ability to optimise campaigns and gain a higher ROI on your ad spend. So beyond the big tech ecosystems, what strategies should brands and advertising production agencies utilise to measure value in a cookieless world?

Partner with first-party data publishers

Publishers will have gathered a significant amount of first-party data from subscribers who have moved behind the paywall. This subscriber data is rich, real, and current. As such, it’s like gold dust. But to make the most of it – and before agreeing to a formal partnership – you should evaluate the data’s quality and composition to make sure it’s relevant and matches your own demographics and target audience.

Publishers can provide a strong basis for contextual targeting as well with specific site analytics that can track user attributes and past campaign performance. So, if all the right boxes are being ticked, a cooperative data partnership can allow brands to have a meaningful, long-term, direct relationship with publishers.

Invest in privacy and demographic-based IDs

The thin line between personalisation and privacy will be the difference in a world without third-party cookies, but it can be done ethically – without cookies. By bringing together demographics and data that’s been permitted to be used, you can generate converged IDs to help you create personalised ads for optimal reach.

Several ad tech companies are moving swiftly towards this privacy-compliant, demographic-based ID area which can deliver relatively accurate user data. Some, such as LiveRamp, are evolving to become “rooted in connectivity, data access, identity, and data stewardship”, preventing over-reliance on browsers and cookies.

Find new tech platforms

Tech to help you measure value without third-party cookies is still evolving, so the effectiveness of new platforms is difficult to assess at this stage. However, several existing platforms can help you move away from relying on cookies to measure value effectively.

While not perfect, customer data platforms (CDPs) are looking like an increasingly solid proposition against data management platforms (DMPs). DMPs rely on device IDs but in contrast, CDPs are customer-focused, gathering data from different connected sources.

And different CDPs have their own strengths. Offering different functionalities to meet your specific objectives, the right CDP can be fundamental in making a positive step towards measuring and targeting without cookies.

Let We Are Amnet help you

As customer privacy increases and the use of third-party cookies reduces, new opportunities to effectively measure future value and performance are emerging all the time. For now, think about how you can use this as an opportunity to engage with your customers in an improved way by creating compelling and engaging content across all digital platforms to develop a long-term loyal customer base.

Let We Are Amnet support you on your content production so that you can free up resources to focus on bigger, more long-term, demanding tasks.


Shelley Harrison

Author Shelley Harrison

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