Commentary

Why Digital Marketers Shouldn't Fear The Death Of Third-Party Cookies

The momentum around the "Do Not Track' movement has a lot of digital marketers concerned about a potential landscape without third-party cookies -- especially as big players like Google and Microsoft talk about introducing their own set of tracking IDs, potentially shifting the power in the ad tech world in their favor.

The underlying need for cookies is much greater than just delivering personalized ads; it's about navigating shifts in consumer behavior and human personalities. Cookies allow marketers to deliver an authentic, personalized brand experience – a.k.a. “targeted messaging” – that speaks to them on a logical and emotional level. If this relevance and personalization is compromised, not only could it draw criticism, it could result in a disenchanted customer base.

But marketers should not fear the endangerment of third-party cookies. Sure -- a world without cookies seems outside our comfort zone, but we still have an abundance of tools and resources to help us survive post-death of the cookie and continue to deliver relevant messaging and create customized brand experiences. If regulation that bans third-party tracking were to go into effect, we'd have an opportunity to reinvent the way we reach consumers in a convergent media landscape. What most people don't realize is that it wouldn't take too much work -- it's more of a mindset shift, a willingness to embrace change and approach things differently using the tools already in our arsenal.

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Search and social media, for example, open up ways to measure impact in audiences both quantitatively and qualitatively. Even the simple queries that people type into that little search engine box are insights into what moves and impresses them. It's the biggest resource to capture human expressions. Thinking of search as just a performance-buying channel is undermining the behavior of the valuable consumers we are looking for through cookies. Marketers want to get up close and personal with consumers and capture rich user-initiated insights -- search allows them to do that in real-time at unparalleled scale.

Third-party cookies will not afford the same opportunity for marketers to focus on delivering brand and business insights through search data rather than metrics updates. The new standard will be the ability to toggle between scale, performance and impact combined with analytical precision on high-quality sites, and our focus will shift from merely delivering volume of clicks to richer audience engagements and interactions.

A cookie-less world means a consolidated digital landscape, where a “less is more” mentality is the primary currency. It solves traffic issues by cutting down the number of players in the market and could potentially be the biggest advantage of digital advertising. First-party cookies deliver richer insights and performance that our industry has been trying to attain.

Registration-based publishers such as Google, Yahoo, and Amazon, to name a few, deliver higher performance in any media and digital campaign. Because they are connected with the precise preference and behaviors of the audience, it' more effective for them to fine-tune campaign performance to users who they know are interested in the solution. The number of publishers will significantly shrink, and a select group -- e.g., Google, Yahoo, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon, who are all utilizing advanced data analytics at the core of their businesses -- will dominate the landscape.

In addition, mobile will become a bigger part of the equation. It's a truly personal device that's customized to an individual's behavior and lifestyle, and can also deliver rich payment analytics insight into a buying behavior. By shifting mobile from being another line item in a marketing plan to a lead channel in the marketing mix, marketers can enrich their media strategy.

Bottom line: we cannot fear a change just because it may increase liability. If our industry was to face the 'no-third party cookie' situation, it would usher in the mass scale phase of convergence centered on the true consumer insights. It won't be a choice; it will be the new standard currency for marketing. Instead of fearing a world without cookies, we should embrace it and all the potential it holds. 

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