It’s Time To Put Aside The Distractions And Focus On The Post-Cookie Reality

By Anthony Flaccavento, General Manager Americas, Ogury,

2023 was a year that capped a remarkable period of new trends and changes amidst several years of economic instability sparked by the pandemic. Back then, streaming services took off as consumers were forced to spend more time at home, charging the growth of Connected TV as an exciting new channel for advertisers. If that was not enough, brands were compelled to evaluate other emerging opportunities including retail media, the Metaverse and NFTs. And of course, Generative AI has become all the rage over the past year.

But as we roll into 2024, the advertising industry must focus its full attention on the imminent transition to a post-cookie world.

With Google’s market-leading Chrome browser already deprecating cookies for 1% of randomly selected users, it is urgent to create a new paradigm that will maintain the scalability of the cookie-driven years while putting consumer privacy first. Aligning with Safari and Firefox’s previous move away from third-party consumer tracking, Google, under the auspices of its Privacy Sandbox initiative, is precipitating a monumental shift. And it is everyone’s responsibility to make up for lost time and accelerate readiness to meet this change with as little disruption as possible.

Recent research revealed most marketers (60%) see the end of cookies and IDs as inevitable, yet a concerning 41% admit little to no knowledge about ID-less solutions. This gap between awareness and expertise is perhaps a result of all of the distractions previously mentioned taking away bandwidth to focus on new solutions.

The Opportunity Beyond Cookies

While the ad industry has certainly acknowledged the magnitude of the challenge posed by the post-cookie world, its slowness in finding the right solutions could be a result of repeated delays in Google’s deprecation plans.

The confluence of privacy regulations, the aforementioned cookie deprecation in Safari and Firefox, as well as Apple’s App Tracking Transparency (ATT) has caused significant signal loss – especially for direct-to-consumer brands launching online – making it more and more challenging to track online users, accurately target audiences, and measure campaign performance.

Reaching the right audiences at scale, while maintaining the same accuracy without identifiers has become the main challenge. In fact, it rates as the key concern for many companies post-cookie, with 53% saying it’s their #1 worry. And this is a challenge that won’t be easy to solve.

Strive For Progress

Historically, businesses have made considerable technology investments for data and audience creation platforms, to mixed success. Aiming for progress, not perfection, is the mindset I would recommend for brands and agencies who, until now, have not made enough tangible improvements to their ad tech stacks to prepare for a privacy-centric future. Even more, this is an opportunity for them to make a comprehensive and thoughtful assessment of their current solutions. Such due diligence will offer them insights on how to reset their resources via the right partnerships and tools, tested and proven to respect consumer privacy.

It’s important to accept that this is an iterative process with no quick fixes. There is a multitude of solutions geared towards the cookieless world on the market, but it is pivotal to weed out those simply trying to replicate the use of identifiers. One of the most popular alternatives is unified IDs. However, it is highly unlikely that all ad tech players would agree on one common unified ID standard. More fundamentally, even if their siloed limitations could be overcome, it would be moot since consumers are overwhelmingly rejecting online tracking.

There is also something to be said about the new generation of contextual targeting. In actuality, while these solutions respect user privacy, they face similar limitations in terms of reach and scalability, which is a major hindrance to the advertising industry. Indeed, advertisers need solutions that not only align with privacy regulations but also reach customers at scale.

Amidst all of these new options, I strongly encourage marketers to prioritize partners on the leading edge of privacy-first advertising. Some companies saw the future years ago and have developed proven solutions, built for longevity and scale, to meet the privacy-first shift.

Finding Solutions Requires Laser Focus

Major tech developments inevitably cause disruption, but despite the many new trends and opportunities distracting marketers today, brands must find a way to reassess and enhance their capabilities. We are on the cusp of momentous change in our industry, and now is the time for marketers to focus their attention on the immediate opportunity to reshape their model in a privacy-first way.