Saying Goodbye To Third-Party Cookies: Lessons From Pharma

  • by , Op-Ed Contributor, July 20, 2021

As marketers eyed the looming 2022 deprecation of third-party cookies on behemoth browser Google Chrome with some hand-wringing, the recent announcement of Google's delayed timeline has brought sighs of relief from many.

Although the browser, which represents 65% of total browser market share, has delayed its massively disruptive deprecation of third-party cookies to the end of 2023, this is not the time for marketers to go back to their familiar media plans.

Now is the time to assess, test and learn to better meet the upcoming changes.

As we move forward in this new world, other industries can look to pharma as a model to navigate unfamiliar territory.

As pharma has for years worked within compliance guidelines and lower access to personalized data, it is uniquely positioned to solve for new data challenges that many within the digital landscape are facing for the first time.



While alternate solutions are still taking shape, it's important to continue to scenario plan for how we will deliver and measure media.

Scale will most likely be impacted with the deprecation of third-party cookies, making it important to begin testing solutions now, rather than waiting for tech giants to lead the way.

As companies endeavor to find new solutions, it is important to consider the context while adding rigor to the discovery process.

Conduct an Audit to Understand Current Reliance On Third-Party Cookies

To begin to understand the impact of these changes on your media planning, it's important to begin with an audit of third-party cookie reliance within your current campaigns.

Third-party cookies have yielded incredible efficiencies, and by understanding how this deprecation will impact current campaigns, marketers can better plan for the future.

Armed with this information, you can create a test-and-learn budget, playing off your highest- and lowest-performing tactics without dramatically impacting current returns.

In this cookieless playground, it is important to keep measurement at the forefront of this process as well.

Cookie reliance is not just focused on activation -- measurement can also be impacted based on your approach.

Venture Into New Activations

There are many digital activations that do not rely on third-party cookies. These have been the building blocks of a strong digital campaign in pharma, which has long faced lower access to personalized data.

The earlier you begin testing into these solutions, the more rapidly you will begin to find alternative ways to activate solutions within your digital media plan.

One such solution would be Walled Gardens, with proprietary data sets such as Google, Facebook and Amazon. While measurement across these partners will be disconnected, they each have rich data sets that can perform well on an individual basis.

Similarly, publisher direct partnerships and private marketplaces can also be tapped to speak to audiences in a privacy-compliant way by leveraging their owned first-party data.

Contextual targeting is an important component of pharma media activation and can be successfully leveraged in other industries as well.

Content engagement can be a strong indicator of consumer interest, so having a rich understanding of the types of words and phrases used within relevant content can enable stronger content targeting, thus reducing the reliance on audience data.

While it is the most challenging to test into, identity resolution will ultimately be the way that marketers will be able to unify disparate data signals to gain a comprehensive view of their audience. To begin to understand how to leverage identity resolution, it is necessary to begin to build a strong data-collection strategy.

By testing one or many of these solutions now, marketers can begin to shift spend into new areas, perhaps diversifying their media mix while gleaning important learnings in advance of deprecation.

Devise a Go-Forward Plan

The more rapidly alternate solutions can be discovered, the more prepared marketers will be as they heading into planning. As solutions continue to come to fruition, flexibility in budgeting and activation will be an important component to media planning.

First and foremost, it is crucial to devise a strong measurement plan. Like any test-and-learn plan, the measures of success are more important than the activation.

Ensuring that a strong measurement plan is in place prior to testing will be crucial for success.

One challenge will be harmonizing attribution, as multi-touch attribution will be strongly impacted by third-party cookie deprecation. 

Developing methods to reconcile attribution and journey insights from disconnected activations will be an important part of measurement.

All this testing will prepare marketers for the unexpected; with new solutions continuing to come to light, it will be important to be flexible in budgeting and activation.  Scale will most definitely be impacted, so having multiple alternate solutions within your media plan will make it easier to pivot quickly.

While third-party cookie solutions are still coming to light, it's important to continue to prepare for the inevitable.

Having a strong foundational knowledge of current reliance on third-party cookies and how it will impact campaigns once they disappear is the first step in preparing for a cookieless future.

Understanding alternate solutions and having flexibility within your budget and activation will be the best way to prepare for the winding path ahead.

Next story loading loading..