Third-party cookie countdown: What CMOs should be thinking about less than 16 months out

Stephanie Russell

Solution Officer

people based marketing

This introductory article is part of a broader series, ‘Countdown to the Third Party Cookie.’ Each month,  an expert from dentsu will publish insights as cookies soon become phased out. From assessing current infrastructure to testing new digital advertising solutions, our company has identity specialists that can  help you navigate the unprecedented challenges facing our industry. 

The increased focus on consumer privacy has Google and Mozilla following Apple’s lead with the retirement of third-party cookie functionality in their browsers. Third party cookies are a mainstay in digital tracking and programmatic media. Given the amount of marketshare held by Google’s Chrome browser, this news is crucial to how marketers will manage digital programs moving forward.  So, it’s critical to think about building a plan for how to maintain existing levels of sophistication in targeting, suppression and measurement given this news.  

Here are some factors to consider to mobilize a plan:    

1. Know your “parties” and the jargon. Know where you use first- versus third-party cookies, and explore second-party partnerships when possible.

2. Audit your digital media. Understand the primary tactics that use third-party cookies as a core part of the strategy.  This is most commonly going to be programmatic display and video purchased through a demand side platform (DSP). DSPs are good at drawing on data that is collected across the open web -unfortunately for 2022, in the form of third-party cookies.      

Perform a sweep of other tactics. While less common, there could be some third-party cookie activity in your web personalization, paid social or even email programs that might be impacted (though this is less common).    

Understand how those tactics are impacted – how do third-party cookies play a role in:

  • Targeting and suppression
  • Dynamic creative optimization
  • Campaign reporting, measurement and optimization
  • Reach and frequency management

In performing an audit, you may find these impacts to be most significant for programmatic, but they should be itemized and prioritized for each channel.   

3. Drill into your digital measurement and attribution practices. How do you assign credit to various activities? Do you have a multi-touch attribution (MTA) solution that spans digital touchpoints? If so, you may want to consider reworking your measurement approach. 

4. Assess impacted media and customer experiences. Understand which technologies that enable the impacted media and customer experiences rely upon or use third-party cookies. Your DSP and DMP - if you’re using them - may be on top of the list, possibly coupled with site personalization and DCO tools among others. Identity resolution solutions should also be interrogated whether you use an in-house capability or used by your agency. One key point is data onboarding, in which first party data are typically matched into a cookie-based identity graph in order to understand current customers as identified through third-party cookies on the open web.

5. Build a roadmap. Map out the major activities and categories of work that need to be addressed.  Just like Y2K we hope that the end of 2022 is equally as uneventful as marketers take a thoughtful approach to getting ahead of things. 

Follow @DentsuAegisNetworkUSA on Twitter for more #CookieCountdown insights and upcoming blog posts. You can also visit Merkury, an enterprise identity solution, powered by Merkle.