The Cookie Diet: Brands Are Slightly Less Worried About Privacy, Merkle Reports

Email teams might be feeling a slight uptick in their mood around the office and about privacy issues as they affect the marketing and ad industry.

Enterprise brands -- while bracing for a recession -- are seeing a slight cooling of cost per click (CPC) and cost per impression (CPM) across advertising channels, and seem less concerned about privacy issues, according to Merkle’s Q4 2022 Performance Media Report. 

Of the marketers polled, 77% feel that privacy and tracking changes will create significant challenges for their business over the next five years. But that’s down from 83% in the prior quarter.  

Still, tracking performance under new privacy regulations was again seen as the leading imperative, gaining a point over the prior report.  

The reason for the falloff in concern about privacy may be that third-party cookies can still be used. Only 29% are strongly concerned about the impact of the cookieless future. And 24% are barely at the early discussion stage about it.  



Meanwhile, brands have not made much progress toward first-party data capture, seen by most observers as the key to the privacy issue.  

The two biggest challenges to first-party data capture are:

  • Connecting different sources of data to create person-based IDs—56% 
  • Figuring out how to segment the data into meaningful audiences—52% 

These two changes show that “brands are increasingly recognizing the value of tailored, personalized content across the customer journey,” the study notes.  

In addition, roughly 48% see enacting privacy-safe environments for data storage and/or curation as a hurdle, and 43% say the same about developing processes for maintaining and scrubbing the data.

The solution is to garner email addresses whenever possible, offering value in return, and by carefully managing the frequency and content of email messages.  

On another front, 60% of firms are taking action on migrating to Google Analytics 4 (GA4). The study asserts that GA4 will help brands “maintain measurement within the Google stack when third-party cookies are gone and can improve media outcomes across the funnel with new customer data signals." 

Compared to the Q3 2022 report, fewer advertisers reported year-over-year increases in CPC and CPM across paid search, display, Facebook, and Instagram. “In fact, CPC growth for both Google Shopping and Google text ads cooled, with just 41% of respondents seeing year-over-year increases on each format”—a welcomed change after “significant upward pressure on CPC in 2021 and into early 2022,” the study notes. 

Merkle surveyed 250 marketing decision makers at firms with $100 million or more in annual revenue in August 2022. 



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