Advertisers are gradually recognizing that measurement, rather than targeting, could pose the greater challenge amid cookie deprecation

March 26, 2024

Advertisers are gradually realizing that the challenge posed by cookie deprecation revolves more around measurement than targeting. As third-party cookies become obsolete, marketers confront the reality that relying on a singular source of truth for measurement is no longer viable. They must now navigate a landscape where determining their own truth is imperative.

This shift has been brewing since Google raised concerns about third-party cookies in its browser four years ago. Executives foresaw difficulties in tracking user behavior across websites, leading to incomplete data, attribution issues, less precise audience segmentation, and a diminished personalized browsing experience.

Although Safari and Firefox began phasing out these cookies in 2017 and 2019, respectively, it's Chrome's dominance that accentuates these concerns. Even the phased-out one percent of cookies from Chrome traffic is enough for marketers to feel their absence.

This catalyst prompts marketers to seek solutions from ad tech and martech providers to reconcile the loss of third-party cookies in their performance metrics. Some alternatives include IP addresses, fingerprinting, and utilizing Google's consent mode within Google Tag Manager.

Marketers are scrutinizing these solutions to effectively navigate the evolving digital advertising landscape. They're reassessing their approaches to attribution, media mix modeling, and experimental solutions, recognizing the need to adapt without relying on third-party cookies.

While the industry is undergoing a transformation, major shifts are unlikely as long as third-party cookies remain abundant. Despite acknowledging the limitations of cookie-based audience tracking, marketers are still incentivized to use them.

Understanding the obstacles arising from reduced dependence on third-party cookies is crucial for marketers to enact necessary adjustments to their strategies. Tools developed by consulting firms, like Making Science, can provide insights into the impact of cookie deprecation, prompting action plans to mitigate potential losses.

The demise of third-party cookies was hoped to unite key players in the open web around a single solution. However, the reality is a patchwork of solutions with varying data ethics and insufficient scale or compliance for marketers to trust.

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