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What does the cookieless future mean for advertisers?

By Macy Edwards, Head of paid digital

ClickThrough Marketing


The Drum Network article

This content is produced by The Drum Network, a paid-for membership club for CEOs and their agencies who want to share their expertise and grow their business.

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February 17, 2021 | 5 min read

With the end of third-party cookies on the horizon, the importance of first-party cookies is growing. ‘The Four’ - Google, Facebook, Amazon, and Apple - have the biggest first party data sets in the world. With their heavy reliance on accounts, subscriptions, and purchases, over the last few years they have dominated the overall market share. So, this change to them will have little to no impact - however this isn’t the case for everyone else.


These tech giants are the ‘walled gardens’ in ad tech and remain the biggest challenge to publishers and advertisers in the future without third party cookies.

Currently, 88% of cookie data is lost, causing upper funnel activity to continually be under-reported by 41%.

We will likely see the price for using data on Facebook, Google and Amazon (among others), resulting in elevated CPC’s and therefore the cost of advertising. This set up also inhibits advertiser’s ability to scale across channels because there is limited measurement across and a reluctance to invest more.

Navigating the world of data; from collection, to manipulation to visualisation. With transparency of reporting through cookies and other tracking mechanisms on the decline, ensuring we are making the most from our e-commerce strategies to drive users to websites and convert this into first party data and consequently leveraging data science to understand our customers and improve personalisation is paramount.

Adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the biggest commercial opportunity

We talk to our clients all the time about this in paid advertising, with more ‘walled gardens’ like Google, Apple, Amazon, Facebook monopolising on their algorithms – and everyone’s algorithm is “better” than the next – it is a difficult space to feel confident however, they work. Profitability of our PPC campaigns after leveraging Search Ads 360 and Google’s ‘Shapely’ algorithm increased 50% within 1 month. Historically, the limitations of algorithms was the learning phases taking weeks or months but now they take days. This is game changing for the industry.

Using AI to understand not only consumer behaviour but also search patterns across channels gives advertisers both a competitive advantage; being in the right place at the right time across millions of potential moments but also it educates our product and service teams faster than ever to what’s working and what isn’t. Utilising this insight and communicating effectively is paramount to innovating our businesses through 2021.

Programmatic advertising is an unsung hero in the digital world

One of the faster growing areas of digital advertising, it is future proofed when thinking about the cookieless future. With 100’s of DSP’s and independent ad servers available you can position yourselves in the market in new and exciting places. Also, using AI to automate ad buying drives both speed to market and efficiency enabling advertisers to not only increase sales but also reduce the acquisition costs.

Following 2020 most of our clients reached out to us to discuss digital strategy and what opportunities we had to drive brand engagement, demand and therefore more sales. Programmatic advertising did not let us down, with nearly all our clients taking the leap to test this strategy and all seeing an uplift through direct, organic and PPC revenue. Simplyhealth for example saw 100% uplift across plan purchases since launching brand display in September 2020. Proving the point that nurturing the full funnel has never been so important.

Using augmented reality & virtual reality to recreate the offline buyer journey

This is revolutionary in terms of how it changes the way we think about advertising and digital strategies. We understand more than ever that customers want an immersive online experience, with Covid-19 this has only accelerated with VR and AR really taking off as methods to recreate that store experience; trying on make-up, clothes; will that sofa fit in your living room? It’s really clever and lots of companies and brands have been quick to maximise on these opportunities. For example, Ikea, Amazon, L’Oréal to name a few.

Agility like this is the result of more marketers focussing on understanding the buyer journey, the touchpoints required to generate demand, and finally generate sales. This focus is only going to increase through 2021 as we prepare for the sunset of third-party cookies.

Are you prepared to own all your site users data? The Cookieless Future is the biggest change to digital advertising since GDPR. Whether you’re new to the idea of cookieless marketing or have been paying close attention to developments, the free eBook ‘Preparing For The Cookieless Future’ will help you prepare.

Macy Edwards, director of digital paid media, ClickThrough Marketing


Content by The Drum Network member:

ClickThrough Marketing

At ClickThrough, we’re a company of talented people, with an incredible passion for digital performance marketing. We know exactly how important service and results...

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