Digital Measurement: The Death of the Cookie

Letitia Oglesby
July, 2023

digital measurementWondering how the death of cookies will affect digital measurement?

Well, it’s a big deal! Cookies are those little trackers that gather data about your online activities and they’re going away. That means a significant change for brands, marketers and analysts who rely on them for measurement.

Google have been kicking ‘the death of the cookie’ down the road for some time now. They were initially supposed to be phased out third-party cookies in late 2023, which has since been pushed back to end of 2024. The latest news from Google is they are planning on disabling third-party cookies for 1% of its users as a test-bed of its new solution.

With cookies out of the picture, tracking user behaviour and targeting ads will become more challenging. Companies will need to find new ways to collect data and understand their audiences. Privacy regulations and user consent will play a bigger role, giving people more control over their online information.

But fear not! There are alternatives so what will a post cookie world look like?

  1. Less tracking: Say goodbye to extensive user tracking for targeted ads. Without cookies, advertisers will have limited access to user data across websites, resulting in fewer personalised ads and reduced tracking capabilities.
  2. Emphasis on first-party data: Companies will rely more on their own data directly collected from users. Building direct relationships with customers becomes crucial as marketers turn to first-party data for insights about their audiences.
  3. Privacy takes centre stage: Privacy concerns continue to grow, and regulations prioritise user consent and data protection. New approaches like federated learning and differential privacy may strike a balance between personalisation and privacy.
  4. Contextual targeting and innovative measurement: Advertisers will shift to contextual targeting based on webpage content. They’ll explore creative measurement techniques that rely on aggregated and anonymised data, statistical modeling, and AI algorithms to understand consumer behaviour and campaign performance.
  5. Industry innovation: The end of cookies will drive innovation in digital advertising and measurement. Companies will invest in finding new ways to reach and engage audiences without relying on traditional tracking. Alternative identifiers like hashed email addresses or device identifiers may be explored.

We recently asked a number of industry experts within Digital Analytics and Measurement for their view:

“The increased focus on privacy and effective use of first party data brings many benefits to both the organisation and the customer. Organisations need to be more effective with how they engage and build trust with their audience so they understand the benefits of sharing their first party data. This can be done through high quality content and an optimised customer journey. This data is valuable to the organisation for retargeting and reactivation and the customer receives valuable, tailored promotions and advertising. Let me know if you need anything else.” Angharad Bullock, Lead Digital Analyst @ Kingfisher PLC.

“With significant changes on the horizon in the industry, I’m excited most by the opportunity for innovation. They will be a big emphasis on marketing mix modelling in the post-cookie world, but what truly interests me is the emergence of new attribution technologies and the necessary collaboration between industry bodies, platforms and measurement partners to bring these to market” Rob Turnbull, Manager, Advertising Research @ Twitter.

“The most relevant aspect of a post-cookie-world is the shift in the type of first-party data that’s becoming more valuable. Companies and advertising platforms will need to invest in strategies to collect and leverage data more effectively through building direct relationships with their customers, engaging through logins, surveys, newsletters, etc.” Insight Manager @ an eCommerce Brand.

“It’s natural to feel anxiety in a world where the post-cookie future still seems ambiguous and uncertain. However what I feel is certain is that we will be looking at a process of evolution and not revolution. Our existing models, enhanced 1st party data and decades of experience in deploying measurement models and frameworks will still be super relevant in painting the picture of media effectiveness.

What is likely is we will have to shift to a mosaic modelling solution, diversify our dependency on solely ROAS to broader objectives/metrics, focus on a trust-first approach with our customers, adapt to embrace future technologies and embed AI in our decisions and measurement capabilities to continue to adequately optimise our media spend and budget.” Jordan Reddington, Head of Growth and Analytics @ Stasher.

In summary:

In the end, measurement strategies will need to adapt and evolve in this new cookie-less era. It’s an opportunity to prioritise user privacy and find innovative ways to understand and engage with audiences without relying on those crumbly cookies. So, get ready for some changes, but don’t worry, the measurement game isn’t over!”

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