A world without cookies? Part 1.

How to navigate without cookie crumbs.

It should be no surprise that, back in January, Google announced that Chrome would no longer support the use of third-party cookies by 2022. The advertising industry can effectively see the end to their ability to buy and sell ads that use individualized targeting. But is it really a dead end for digital marketers or just another fork in the road? In this two-part series, our experts share their current best guess on predictions, what you should expect and how you can prepare.

But first, what does a crumbling cookie mean? The loss of third-party cookies will make it harder to identify “User X” in ad server logs and know when that user saw ads around the web.

Our experts take a gamble on some predictions.

Gina Biel, Media Director

For me, I see two really big changes ahead as a result of the cookieless future:

First, for digital media, this will mean mass consolidation within the programmatic media space with many programmatic partners going out of business entirely. Those that remain must have a unique differentiated offering, contextual targeting capabilities, PMPs and first-party data.

Second, gated content will become the currency for publishers because it requires someone to log in and opt in to give their personal data in order to access the content.

Finally, the digital advertising challenges will likely focus advertisers to use channels that don’t rely on cookies, traditional TV/radio, CTV/OTT, streaming audio/podcasts, in-app advertising, digital out-of-home (OOH) and email.

Adam Sanders, Director, Analytics

This will result in a large push to be more reliant on using first-party data. Growing your CRM and understanding your first-party systems is going to be more important to help inform advertising.

Since we won’t be able to analyze one-to-one, there also will be a rise in geo-focused-based analysis and comparing aggregate to aggregate based on geographic models. Whether it is at the DMA or ZIP code level, Google has already laid a road map out for this type of analysis/testing. It is collecting aggregate data to market toward the aggregate. This will result in a renewed focus in contextual/content-based advertising.

Finally, get ready for browser fingerprinting as a replacement for the cookie. If you are unfamiliar with it, your browser needs to know a bunch of information about your display and extensions you may have installed. Combining all these different data points creates a unique identifier, which can be used in replacement of cookies.

So now what? Is it a dead end for digital marketers or just a fork in the road?

In the second part of this series, we’ll explore what you can do now to prepare for 2022 and what bumps to expect in the road.