We’ve all been reading about the impending demise of the cookie, and the challenges facing attribution when users decline cookies. It’s getting “real” right about now, and marketers are going to have to wake up. Marketers are also going to have to understand what is and what isn’t true about the death of the cookie.
First and foremost, your basic metrics are still accessible in a cookie-less world. You can still measure pageviews. Your can still measure video views. You can still measure leads and opportunities. What you can’t do is properly attribute an unknown prospect/user into a known prospect/user. You can’t follow someone from an anonymous cookie into a known email address.
You can still measure whether certain messages are driving engagement, and you can still measure what actions on a page are driving interaction, but you may not be able to properly follow that person through the entire journey and properly deliver successive messages throughout.
One could argue that this is OK. The customer journey is not a linear journey, and prospects will gather the information they want both when and where they want it. It is arrogant to assume we can control the journey. So the strategic difference that a marketer must make is to simplify the message so that it can be delivered consistently across multiple touchpoints and drive that prospect to look for more granular information on their own time. That doesn’t mean you are following them, but you can be guiding them to the next step of the customer journey without trying to track it using outdated, archaic methods for doing so.
The myth is that without cookies, those initial metrics of activity are gone. If a user declines a cookie be placed, that doesn’t mean you lose visibility into basic page metrics like views and activity. Your server data still provides that view. You just can’t double-click down to get more granular about who went where and who clicked on what.
You will still know that the action was taken, which is something you can optimize toward. The death of the cookie does not send marketing back to the Stone Age. As an industry we still have a LOT of data about what works and what doesn’t, and solution-oriented marketers can still hypothesize, review data and optimize a campaign.
Another myth is that cookie banners just invite users to decline cookies. The fact is, most consumers don’t care, and they are already simply accepting first-party cookies because it’s easier and quicker to do so.
That being said, there are agencies and companies popping up to help increase the opt-in rate for marketers on the cookie acceptance ads. People are literally optimizing the banners that allow you access to data so you can optimize the experience behind those banners.
It makes sense. As an industry, we love to make it difficult for ourselves.
On a desktop, many users are fine with cookies. They don’t really worry about it. I’ve even noticed the language has shifted as of late from “decline/accept” to “accept or manage preferences.” When your choice is to simply blanket accept or spend time managing, the choice will also be accept and move on. It’s easier and requires less time.
On a mobile device, Apple made it very easy to decline, but Apple still has data that it can use. It just doesn’t allow others to use it.
Privacy is a funny thing. It’s something we all say we want, but when push comes to shove, convenience will always win. For marketers, the truth is similar. We all want our data and insights, but too many people don’t want to work for it. They wanted it handed to them. That won’t be the case for long as the landscape will force you to revisit your analytics over the coming months, and the myths will have to be debunked along the way.