How Marketers Can Succeed Without Cookies and With Consent

By Jose Antonio Martínez Aguilar, CEO, Making Science

If you haven’t heard, Google announced it will eliminate third-party (3P) cookies in Chrome. And more recently, Apple removed access to device identifiers on iOS.

These moves by tech giants were made in an effort to increase privacy and control for users. However, as a result, a cookieless world and required opt-ins for iOS users are wreaking havoc on the marketing industry and shaking things up. Data technology companies and brands are scrambling to protect income streams and create workarounds for campaign targeting to ensure paid marketing success within the new constraints.

For users, the changes mean that digital marketing campaigns and ads that “follow you around” may not pop up on every screen and device you use. This is likely a welcomed outcome due to the oversaturation of ads and the disruption caused by unsettling, eerily personalized ad experiences.

For marketers and brands, this industry-wide change is causing a domino effect of restrategizing. But it doesn’t mean it is time to give up on programmatic ad targeting and redistribute funds to other marketing initiatives. Instead, it means that it is time to get creative and get consent.

Users and Privacy Concerns

There is no question that users are getting smarter and savvier and want control of their data. Thanks to data breaches, creepy retargeting campaigns, and companies being called out for misuse of individual data, users are more aware of how companies work and are demanding more transparency.

Since regulations such as GDPR and CCPA were put into place, the focus and governance continue to be redirected onto brands and intermediaries, such as Google, Apple, and Facebook, whose platforms support targeting and third-party data collection.

As Google and Apple step up and reconfigure their platforms, they shifted to focus on opt-ins and require consent from users before brands can use the collected data and retarget those audiences for marketing campaigns.

Consent-Based Marketing (and Google Consent Mode)

So what do brands and agencies need to do to succeed in the cookieless future of digital advertising? They need to focus on consent and first-party data.

To do this, they need to work with backend analytics platforms such as Google Marketing Platform (GMP) and find ways to integrate data transfer to create accurate audience segments.

One option is through Google’s consent mode, which allows marketers and brands to adjust Google tags behavior based on “the consent status” of users. The tags show if consent was granted or not, and the tags will adapt only to use cookies when users give permission.

This function can be used in Google Ads for conversion tracking and remarketing. And it’s a workaround that offers users control and brands a compliant opportunity to gain consent – and trust – from users.

The other option from Google is to leverage FLoCs (Federated Learning of Cohorts), which are audience segments created by Google based on user behaviors. However, it is not third-party data because it avoids offering any personally identifiable information for users.

The Way Forward

So is it possible to gain consent from users and not rely on cookies? Absolutely.

However, now is the time to turn to trusted partners and sort out solutions to help brands collect first-party data and create a pathway to navigate consent and ensure compliance.

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