This Holiday Season, Cookieless is the Way to Go

By Paul Bell, President & GM of Data, 33Across

While the 2021 holidays will be much different than last year’s due to the COVID-19 vaccine, consumers will continue to shop online instead of going into stores. Last holiday season, online and other non-store sales jumped by 23%. This trend is likely to continue as the ease and safety of online ordering remain important today.

And while brands have historically used social media as their destination of choice for holiday advertising, it will continue to be oversubscribed and expensive, thereby driving a low ROI when companies must do everything in their power to justify their investments.

Plus, many publishers have invested significant resources in holiday guides and review sections (e.g., The New York Times’ purchase of Wirecutter) that consumers trust and depend on to make informed purchase decisions. High-quality publishers still offer a great opportunity for marketers to reach audiences right next to editorial recommendations. And yet, few retailers are taking advantage of the Unaddressable Open Web, the no-cookie, non-logged-in traffic often found on thousands of high-quality partners.

Imagine your product gets a favorable write-up in a publication’s holiday gift guide. Or an article about your product category. The real estate next to it is worth its weight in gold regardless of whether a consumer is viewing it on Safari or Chrome. And yet, many advertisers have neglected this valuable opportunity chasing social media or apps.

This somewhat forgotten but effective generator of consumer demand; more cost-effective than social media or apps and much larger than most think: it consists of nearly half of online US shoppers. In fact, most of this audience is the same you would find on social media or apps but targeting them is more efficient and cost-effective.

So why is cookieless advertising not every company’s first choice? For one, measurement has historically been challenging since performance is rooted on the cookie. As consumer purchase behavior moves from in-person to ecommerce, more first-party customer data can be harnessed to run smarter cookieless campaigns via identity providers or work directly with publishers and supply aggregators on behalf of retailers.

In short, retailers can increase their audience exposure and overall share of voice while respecting consumer privacy when they work with publishers working to make more of their inventory addressable. All at a price and efficiency that cannot be matched anywhere else. It’s time to return to high-quality publishers and the Unaddressable Open Web.

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