Closing engagement gaps in a cookieless world

When the curtain falls over the cookies in the 2nd quarter of 2023, the marketers have four years to prepare themselves for the challenges of a cookie-free world. However, today, it isn’t clear how many brands are ready to face the issues.

There hasn’t been a shortage of urgent writings or articles on the subject there was a collective sigh of relief throughout the digital advertising world as Google declared in June it would delay the removal of third-party cookies in its top-of-the-line Chrome browser for around two years longer than the initial date set at 2021’s end. Many marketers are delighted to learn about developing a different, safe targeting method based on identity and are aware of the gaps in measurement that the demise of cookies could cause. As an industry, we’re not sure what the options will be or who will be the one to develop and implement these solutions. Too many people are looking for someone else to fix the issue.

Just that Google has kicked the bucket down the road doesn’t mean marketers shouldn’t follow suit. A variety of identity-less choices are currently being tested and evaluated for targeting, and a lot of players in the advertising tech industry and beyond are working to come up with alternative solutions for programmatic advertising. It’s a different issue to find out if these methods work and send relevant ads to the appropriate people. At this point, it is un-clear how much attention has been given to the measurement aspect of the calculation.

Cookies-free measurement comes with its unique challenges, as well as opportunities. Marketers typically assume that they require census-level information to determine if they reached their public and if the ads succeeded in achieving their KPIs. Testing and control groups used in many research studies on audience measurement and effectiveness can be conducted at a smaller scale, based on the quality of the samples and the techniques employed. Most brands take the “measure everything right now and determine the implications in the future” method of measuring this is understandable given the amount they invest in digital advertising.

Every route leads to first-party information.

In the cookie, age marketing professionals were led to believe that they must be aware at a census level of their customers’ online footprint to monitor delivery and assess the effectiveness of ads. Now, they’re discovering that measurement firms that have built loyal and direct first-party relationships with their panelists are the most likely to be successful without cookies and expand their advertising measurement coverage in new methods that are privacy-conscious.

At Dynata, we use our top-of-the-line global database of more than 62 million users (individual customers as well as business partners and difficult-to-reach audience) to determine whether an advertisement had the intended effect by polling panelists who have exposed the ad, then creating audiences that look like those exposed to the data to measure the impact of the audience and campaign impact. In contrast to advertisements that utilize measure tags to add third-party cookies on the device as they are loaded and load, our panelists get first-party cookies when they engage with us directly for surveys or redeem rewards. These first-party cookies are readable without the need for third-party cookies.

This is how it is working: Let’s say that an individual clicks The New York Times, and the ad appears on screen with a Dynata tag. The tag checks for our first-party cookie, and when it is found, it will send an alert back to us with precise details about when the advertisement was seen and by whom. The information we collect about our audience (age data, household information, and other demographic information) is gathered only with permission from the panelist. Other than that, a wide array of data from cookies is connected anonymously to other sources to determine identity, a procedure that is prone to error and guesswork. We begin with known identities and count a lesser amount of people. However, we do it in a more precise and reliable manner.

A myriad of measurement strategies can be created using this framework. For instance, Dynata recently introduced a solution called Social Measure, which relies on cohorts of panelists to assess the effectiveness of campaigns within the walls on Facebook and Instagram. Using this method, we can choose to show or hide ads from our panelists during their regular interaction with these platforms to create our control and test cells. Data was selected as one of the finalist candidates for the 2021 Ogilvy Award for our part in implementing the Facebook assessment to NBA All-Stars Campaign entry. We can also measure ads’ efficiency through YouTube without cookies, thanks to our collaboration in the Google Ads Data Hub.

Sorting through the options

These solutions are just the end of the spear. Marketing professionals must be able to analyze all options to choose the one which best meets their requirements. A large portion of the effort to gauge the effectiveness of digital advertising is centered on direct connections with publishers via encrypted email matches. If a publisher has a significant reach and who are successful in attracting their users to sign-up with their email addresses and then achieve accurate measurement results for one publisher, however, this approach reduces the number of impressions for ads that can be viewed depending on a portion of the number of visitors to the website who have signed up with the email addresses. Furthermore, this strategy requires hundreds of integrations to achieve complete results, which could render single-source cross-publisher research beyond companies’ reach and make the process of establishing a clean control (i.e., non-exposed groups) challenging to create and, in some cases, impossible.

For sure, cookie-free measurement is still a work that is still in the process. Marketers ought to keep track of changes as they come out and take a more aggressive test-and-learn strategy. It might be time to promote a glass-half-full viewpoint. The removal of cookies will affect the ability of marketers to measure and target digital ads in the near term; however, the sky isn’t falling. Over the long term, the process of removing marketers from third-party cookies now will help them to develop better strategies to engage and learn about their clients. This alone is reason enough to be cheery when cookies crumble.

Data is the largest first-party data platform that provides analysis, activation, and measurement. The 62 million+ customers as well as business professionals around the world and its vast collection of individual characteristics of profiles gathered through surveys are the foundation for reliable, accurate, high-quality data. Dynata’s cutting-edge data solutions and services make use of its extensive first-party data offerings to connect your voice as a consumer across the entire marketing spectrum that spans strategies branding, innovation, and strategy to measurement, advertising, and optimization. Dynata provides a global database that includes more than 66,000 market research agencies, media, and advertising as well as publishers, consultants, investment firms as well as corporate customers.