The Cookie really started to crumble in 2018 with Apple’s ITP 2.0 and similar moves from Firefox making the cookie much less effective as it had been. In January, Google fired the starting gun for the end of third-party cookies completely. I and others have written articles speculating on how the digital advertising world will change without the third-party cookie, however much of this is still opinion rather than fact. One thing we do know is that big change is coming. With that being said, what should all brands do right now to prepare for the coming change?

1. Consider the Customer at all times. We are entering a privacy first world and customers today and increasingly expect their data to be used with respect. From asking for consent to the campaigns that are run more consideration needs to be put about how that interaction makes the customer feel. This can sound a little nebulous but actually is a vital step; for too long we have not considered what the customer feels about marketing activity. Poor measurement has masked the fact that actually much digital marketing has actually alienated customers.

2. Organise your own first party data. From website data, app, offline, CRM, Channel data or consent – brands need to control their own first party data. This is both becoming a legal requirement from a privacy and consent point of view but also is needed to be effectively able to run data driven marketing. Furthermore, Marketing will be much more effective for brands who have control of all their first party data sources as it will allow seamless communication and personalisation. The customer will thank you as their data is respected, consent complied with and communication improved.

3. Understand your core publishers and form relationships with them. The state of the web with the cookie has been very heavily about audience buying, be that retargeting, customer or prospecting audiences. As this world ends advertisers need to go back to basics and understand on which big publishers their customers and prospects live. This can be done by pulling URL reports (particularly on retargeting campaigns), looking at sales and assist, Web vs app and indexing performance against reach. This is also a chance to evaluate the media quality of the media environment manually or automatically. This will provide a list of publishers who have great audiences for the advertiser whom they should consider forming relationships with. These brands (including the giants at GAFA) will not only be important publishers moving forward but also be part of your 2nd party data network. Talk to your customers where they live in quality environments.

4. Look for more relevant data partners. As well as your publishers there will be many other data companies that have data relevant to your organisation. Those that have their own first party data will be particularly relevant. Equally relevant is there plans to activate in a cookieless world. By engaging with them it will be possible to understand what data is of interest and what options there are on activation both today and in the future. Provided this is done with both transparency and consent, customers will be grateful for the improved targeting and personalisation.

5. Build out your skills. The privacy by design world requires brands to work very much like data companies. This can require specialist skills that advertisers have not always had before. As the world changes its important that brands up-skill. This can take the form of training for current staff, looking to hire in specialist skills and working with partners to identify and fill in any gaps.


Robert Webster is the Co Founder of Canton Marketing Solutions. With 20 years experience guiding leading global brands with their digital marketing setup, strategy and execution Rob is one of the leading practitioners in the industry.

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