How To Keep The Party Going In A Cookie-Free Future

By Andy Gallagher, VP of Client Engagement, Analytic Partners

Google’s postponement of stopping third-party cookies may help advertisers that felt unprepared for the changing digital landscape, but those changes will come – sooner or later. The momentum of data protection regulations and increased consumer awareness will continue.

While we have never completely relied on third-party cookies – by offering Commercial Mix Analytics we don’t need them to measure effectiveness – we are indirectly affected. Because now many of our customers – in the retail sector and beyond – are searching for information and advice on how they can display targeted advertising in the future and how to measure the digital impact as precisely as possible.

The good news is there are alternatives to relying on cookies for measurement (as attribution models including multi-touch attribution (MTA) do) and clear steps that retail brands and providers should take now to be prepared for future success.

Grow with the flow

First and foremost, accept that cookies will disappear despite Google’s delay. Companies need to proactively prepare rather than procrastinate further because Chrome’s blocking of cookies is just another milestone on the inevitable path towards greater privacy protection.

When it comes to targeting, too many companies are far too passive, or they are secretly hoping for an alternative to magically appear – which will not happen. Instead, combining approaches will be necessary – such as looking into Google’s cookie replacement mechanism FloC, the rebalancing of existing options such as contextual targeting, or a return to customer-centered marketing by developing robust analysis of existing first-party data.

Many retailers have embraced the concept of loyalty programmes and one of our clients added significant value when it started leveraging its loyalty scheme for business growth. With a thorough analysis of its data, we identified growth levers per consumer segment and determined the best combination of marketing/CRM to increase ROI and Customer Lifetime Value. We helped shape a completely new approach and identified a multi-million-pound opportunity across several strategies.

Look past the easy way

Retail brands should be just as proactive when measuring impact. MTA models are still very popular, but their speed and need for constant adaptation mean they have never really lived up to their promise.

Brands need to seize this moment, take a deep breath and a step back. They should ask themselves how short-term they want to plan and whether that makes sense. What alternatives are there to demonstrate effectiveness robustly and quickly enough, and to optimise marketing activities at the same time?

Support the development of tools

The vast array and complexity of available marketing channels, measurement tools and metrics don’t help achieve unified analysis and evaluation. And as we’ve already said, some of these providers rely on cookies. Marketers and brands struggle to keep track of which drivers are responsible for performance changes so providers need to rethink and adapt their solutions and measurement tools as well.

By working closely with our customers, we can learn from their experiences – and this helps optimise our Commercial Mix Modelling (CMM) approach, creating faster and more granular marketing decision-making, even without cookies. Brands can find out which of their activities are effective and efficient, adjust strategies monthly by using Live Models, use test & learn on campaign elements, and simulate optimisation scenarios.

Mix it to your own taste

Whether for targeting or measurement, success lies in finding the right marketing mix for a specific company’s needs – one that is tailored to the brand and the consumer.

There are many options that can be adapted to a wide variety of companies – nobody needs to take a one-size-fits-all approach nor feel that they can’t survive without third-party cookies. Marketing will quickly find its way without them, as it did for so many decades previously.

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