Is Cookieless the Next Boy Who Cried Wolf?

By Jen Faraci, Chief Data Officer and Michael Bauer, Vice President, Group Director, Data and Analysis, Digitas

The threat of third-party cookie deprecation has been looming over marketers for almost a decade, but every time it gets close – the deadline moves. This creates a flurry of questions and uncertainty for digital marketers and undermines confidence that the day will actually come, in some cases leaving marketers and advertisers unprepared.

In truth we’ve already been living in a semi-cookie world since Safari and Firefox blocked them in in 2017 and 2019, with Google as the last and largest remaining hold out. So, is the death of the cookie really coming?  Yes – it’s already here.  Is it the death of digital marketing? No, it’s a new beginning.

The death of the cookie is actually a blessing for marketing.  Cookies have always been a band-aid solution that fails to fully service the larger need of marketing. Third party cookies are temporary and low fidelity, they represent devices more than people, and never told a full story across the consumer journey. The removal of the cookie has pushed advertisers, publishers, and media platforms to look for new, sustainable, and privacy-secure solutions that will last longer than a cookie in a browser ever could.

The New

Cookies were limited in telling the full story of a consumers’ online behavior including both targeting and measurement. Social and direct platforms use authentication for matching as a sustainable agreement between user and platform. Now programmatic has been pushed into the ID space with non-cookie-based solutions like Epsilon’s CoreID, which focuses on targeting known users based on cooperation between platforms, advertisers, and publishers with opt-in permissions from consumers.

Additionally, while third party cookies connected media and site actions, they were missing much of cross-domain activity not on Chrome. This is why media, publishers, and advertisers have moved towards API solutions to pass events and actions between platforms to match to user activity regardless of browser.

The Impact

While cookie deprecation is pushing more sustainable solutions, there will still be impacts across the digital ecosystem. For open web it’s estimated that we are going from about 50% targetable, to 10-30%1. This will benefit publishers who are already seeing increase in their revenue by 30%2, but will increase CPMs for advertisers. Outside of new solutions, strategies like contextual targeting, audience expansion and modeling will be necessary to fill in the space left by the void of solutions providing more accuracy but decreased scale.

Quality of matching and reporting will be directly tied to a brand’s offline and online data. Enhancing CRM, online authentication, and other data collection strategies will increase match rates between partners and improve targeting and measurement. Without this, match rates will be lower and decrease attribution. Data collection and collaboration is no longer the future but the now of digital media and companies should migrate quickly.

The Conclusion

While this change will have a short-term impact to advertisers, long term it will drive higher consumer trust and platform innovation. The death of third-party cookies isn’t a return to early digital marketing, rather it will lead to solutions that will balance the needs of consumers privacy and digital marketing.  The key to unlocking this innovation is visibility and access across experiences, regardless of platform.  This connectivity is what will allow brands deliver on both experience and performance across the network of consumer experiences.


Link 1:

Link 2: