Let Them Eat Cake: Three Sweet Solutions for Advertisers in a World Without Cookies

By Mitsunaga Kikuchi, CEO of Shirofune

The collision of two unstoppable forces – the rise of mobile communication and the demand for greater privacy – have crumbled the venerable tracking cookie. A staple for monitoring user behavior and measuring ad performance, cookies have long been a sugar-rush source of information for advertisers and agencies, but like day-old items at the bakery, they’re nearing their expiration date.

After all, cookies are designed to track browsers, not individuals, a desktop-based model that tilts toward obsolescence in our mobile-first world. And then there’s new stringent internet privacy laws across the European Union and elsewhere championing “the right to be forgotten” and the ability to search the web without being shadowed by corporate stalkers.

As we collectively move toward the more decentralized, scalable and secure promise of Web3, the value of which is expected to reach nearly $53 billion by 2030, outmoded tools like cookies are being phased out by major platforms like Google and Meta, though reluctantly. In his blog post from March 2021, Google’s director of product management, ads privacy and user trust David Temkin wrote, “People shouldn’t have to accept being tracked across the web in order to get the benefits of relevant advertising. And advertisers don’t need to track individual consumers across the web to get the performance benefits of digital advertising.” Then, in the wake of this wisdom, Google delayed its Chrome cookie-cutting by two years until the end of 2024.

Effectively reaching consumers, of course, continues to rely on obtaining accurate conversion data, crucial for optimizing advertising strategies and maximizing return on investment. As the advertising landscape undergoes a tectonic shift, three steps can continue to ensure advertising success in a cookieless world:

Leverage Third-Party Measurement Solutions

Now is the time to explore alternative methods for obtaining comprehensive metrics across all ad platforms. Many are embracing third-party measurement solutions like Google Analytics 4, Market Mix Modeling (MMM) and incrementality testing. These tools can provide valuable insights into ad performance and ROI without relying on cookies.

Google Analytics 4 offers robust tracking and measurement capabilities, allowing advertisers to analyze website traffic, user behavior and conversion data. MMM analyzes metadata to quantify the value that disparate marketing inputs have on sales. Incrementality testing has shown its effectiveness in conducting controlled experiments to evaluate the incremental impact of advertising on consumer behavior. These and other third-party measurement solutions can go a long way toward giving advertisers a deep understanding of how their ads perform across different platforms, channels and devices.

Make the Most of Unified Conversion Data

Conversion is the ultimate yardstick of ad effectiveness. Modern advertising needs to exploit unified conversion data from third-party measurement tools to inform their budget allocation across ad platforms. This involves consolidating data from different measurement solutions into a single source of truth, allowing accurate and consistent evaluation of performance and ROI.

Unified conversion data comes together to form a big picture, providing a more dimensional understanding of consumer behavior. How are targeted consumers interacting with your ad? How are they progressing across meaningful click-throughs? By analyzing conversion data, advertisers can gain insights into the most effective touchpoints and channels beyond last-click attribution or other cookie-based models that may not provide a complete picture.

Consolidate Platform Budgets and Dynamically Allocate Funds

From Google to Facebook, Instagram to TikTok, advertising campaigns can become an unwieldy diaspora of efforts. To save time, money and frustration, a data-driven approach points toward combining these multi-platform campaigns under a single management roof and embracing more flexible ad spending to redirect funds where they have the greatest impact.

Automated systems can handle both of these. Putting total control at the fingers of advertisers and agencies, some management tools offer a single dashboard interface to streamline and simplify multiple campaigns. Along with monitoring and analytics,   dynamically based on performance data.

Like any dependency, the industry’s reliance on tracking cookies can be replaced by habits that are both more sustainable and beneficial. Innovation is the lifeblood that can help advertisers and agencies authentically touch the hearts of consumers.

About the Author

Mitsunaga Kikuchi is Founder/CEO of Shirofune, the #1 automated advertising management platform in Japan which launched in North America earlier this year, using human intelligence rather than AI to deliver significant time, cost and performance benefits.