Countdown to third party cookie retirement: Capabilities that marketers should be thinking about

Sunil Rao

SVP Analytics, Merkle

COVID-19 has accelerated digital engagement and helped to jumpstart digital maturity for many brands.  Our customers are, more than ever, striving for a seamless digital experience across paid, owned and earned channels. In support of that experience brands have to thoughtfully work third-party cookie deprecation and create a high level plan.  There are four key areas to start developing more specific actions around. These include first party data capture, identity resolution, media activation, and measurement. 

First-Party Data Capture:  As we look towards the future, organizations that develop the capability to collect, integrate and manage customer provided data (i.e. first party data) are going to have a significant competitive advantage over their peers.  As organizations look to embark on their quest for first party data, there are a few key points to be mindful about.

1. First and foremost, it is important to be transparent with customers on what data is being captured during their interactions and how it will be utilized. 

2. Explore business models that demonstrate the value-exchange for customers when they share their first party data. This can be in form of unlocking premium content, loyalty rewards or even the promise of a better customer experience.

3. Important for brands to collect all identifiers both pseudonymous (first party cookie id based) and known (email, first name, last  name, address etc.) as they are all valuable in driving a better customer experience

Identity: Identity is the lynchpin that enables organizations to be able to communicate with their customers in a relevant and personalized manner. It is foundational and its accuracy and sophistication has an impact on almost all marketing functions.    

1. Identity in the post third-party cookie world will likely be based on persistent identifiers collected as part of a first party data strategy.

2. It is critical for brands to own their customer identity and grow the identity graph by linking digital identifiers to a persistent identity foundation.

3. Organizations should look to partner with vendors that bring best-in-class approaches for data integration and to accelerate the growth of their private graph.

Activation Platforms: There is a new breed of platforms that marketers should evaluate which enable them to orchestrate omni-channel campaigns without relying on third-party cookies.

1. Customer Data Platforms (CDPs) present an option for marketers to migrate to platforms that transact on a persistent ID foundation. Organizations leveraging DMPs should evaluate how to transition their current use cases / activities to other platforms, as the capabilities of DMPs will likely be impacted significantly in a post third party cookie world.

2. Organizations should identify partners and platforms that can enable them to execute paid media campaigns through cookie-less connections with premium publisher and addressable TV partners.

Measurement: The third party cookie is utilized prominently to support reporting and attribution of media campaigns today.  As we approach the next twelve months, organizations should prepare for upcoming changes and evaluate alternate approaches to support their reporting and measurement needs.

1. Walled garden data clean rooms from Google, Facebook and others, present an opportunity for organizations to get access to the individual level data for measurement and reporting.  For brands with heavy spend in one or both, this could be a great option to understand the impact of media spend.

2. Private data clean rooms are another option for organizations to get access to individual level data from publishers and other second party relationships and get a view in the media performance.

3. Marketing mix modeling, which has long been a trusted way to understand the impact of marketing and other factors on sales, can also serve as an option for organizations looking for alternatives to cookie based multi-touch attribution solutions.

Key Takeaways:

  • Identify opportunities to increase first-party data collection
  • Leverage persistent ID based solutions and build your private ID graph
  • Consider innovations leveraging data safe havens and incrementally based approaches to measurement

Learn more about our identity solution: Merkury>