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Media Third Party Cookie GDPR

Why you need to preserve your data in the face of a cookie-less world

By Peter Whitmarsh |

Search Laboratory


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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July 13, 2021 | 5 min read

Over the last couple of years there have been some substantial changes to online privacy laws and the ways marketers are able to collect and track data on web users.

Search Laboratory on the importance of data and why marketers need to preserve the data they have to align with the customer's journey.

Search Laboratory on the importance of data preservation to align with the customer’s journey

Browser updates such as Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP), and data regulations including GDPR, have drastically reduced marketers’ capability to track users across the web using cookies, leading to a limited or inaccurate view of the full customer journey.

Without a clear view of the customer journey that ties together each touchpoint, it becomes increasingly more difficult to determine the exact campaign or channel that led to each conversion. And, if parts of the customer journey are missing or unclear, we lack the full picture of what drew a user to convert and, more importantly, what prevented a user from converting.

Having an accurate and complete view of the customer’s journey to conversion is crucial if you want to identify how different campaigns and channels perform in contributing to those conversions. Without this data, marketers cannot make informed strategic decisions about where to allocate budget, how to best optimize channels, and how to engage meaningfully with customers.

In addition to limiting the view of the customer journey, changes like ITP and GDPR also impact our capacity to advertise to and retarget users. Advertising platforms use third-party data, which is gathered via cookies, to profile and assess which users to advertise to. With the eventual phasing out of cookies, the ability to target audiences and measure performance effectively will diminish.

In our recent podcast episode, Search Laboratory’s founder, Ian Harris, was joined by our in-house experts to discuss this phasing out of third-party cookies and the impact these changes have on tracking and analytics. Listen to it here, or to ensure you get all the latest audio insights on digital marketing, you can subscribe to the Search Laboratory Podcast today on iTunes or Spotify.

What can businesses do in the face of this challenge?

Even with Google delaying their timeline on phasing out cookies to 2023, getting ready for a cookie-less world right now is crucial. While the exact future of what attribution modeling and advertising will look like in the future is still uncertain, what we do know is that privacy requirements have evolved, and they will continue to change. Now more than ever it is essential that businesses adapt how they track and measure data to adhere to regulations and respect user privacy, while also collecting as much reliable data as possible.

Instead of seeking out temporary workarounds and solutions, marketers need to be preserving what data they do have so they can continue to join up pieces of the customer journey. Even in the face of all these changes, there are still steps you can take to preserve your data and increase the accuracy and effectiveness of your advertising campaigns without relying on cookies. To help with this, we’ve curated a new data and privacy resources hub, which provides guidance on how your business can survive and even thrive in a post-cookie landscape.

Our upcoming workshop, set to take place on Tuesday July 20 at 11am BST, will also unpack what the crumbling of third-party cookies exactly means for advertisers. In addition, it will illustrate how brands can pivot their digital marketing to succeed in a world without cookies. Find out more or register your spot here.

Pete Whitmarsh is head of paid media at Search Laboratory.

Media Third Party Cookie GDPR

Content by The Drum Network member:

Search Laboratory

Driven by evidence and led by transparency, we search for the truth in data.

Search Laboratory is a team of digital marketers and data scientists dedicated to growth generation. Combining data science with intricate digital strategies, Search Laboratory identifies the questions that bring data to life, allowing them to make decisions that drive profitable growth for its clients.

Search Laboratory is one of only a handful of Google Marketing Platform Sales Partners trusted to offer expert implementation, training and ongoing support for the platform's advanced suite of tools.

We are proud to be part of Havas Media Group. The group’s expertise in large-scale media experiences enhances our own performance marketing and data science specialisms to create an offering that spans the whole customer journey for our clients.

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