Most marketers still fearful of the post-cookie world

mobile new 2It might seem as though Google’s third-party cookies have been crumbling longer than the Acropolis in Athens but most marketers continue to worry about what is next, especially around personalisation strategies, with little confidence in replacement solutions being touted by vendors and agencies alike.

While April’s decision by the UK Competition & Markets Authority to force Google to put back the demise of third-party cookies for a fourth time did not come as a huge surprise to many, it could be argued that only once they are dead and buried will marketers finally act.

A new report by Publicis-owned data-driven marketing giant Epsilon – “Preparing for a World without Third-Party Cookies” –  reveals that while marketers understand the expected impact of cookie deprecation, most remain sceptical about Google’s changes.

In fact, 69% noted a decrease in their ability to reach consumers on their Apple devices since the deprecation of the IDFA. As a result, 64% say that digital advertising will take a step backward in terms of personalisation and proving effectiveness.

An even larger proportion (73%) are specifically concerned about the potential loss of the ability to do “people-based advertising”. Despite understanding cookie deprecation’s implications, 75% of marketers still rely on them (down only 7% from 2020), and fewer than half of marketers feel “very prepared” for the changes (down just 4% from 2020).

And, while most marketers feel negative emotions toward Google’s moves, they are not walking away from the platform, so all eyes wil be on the tech giant’s new solution. Also, nearly three-fifths (58%) of marketers think Google’s initiative will not help end consumers. When asked why, more than half say they expect little to no improvement in consumers’ ability to control the use of personal data.

Meanwhile, advertisers are employing a combination of strategies to combat cookie deprecation, primarily focused on expanding first-party data (60%) and establishing a customer data platform (59%) – two sides of the same coin.

From the study, Epsilon says it is clear that marketers understand the power of data and are doubling down on what they can control. They are embracing technology that can help get their data in order (like a CDP) and are pursuing identity strategies that help augment their existing first-party data.

In an effort to get ready for the inevitable, the majority (73%) of brands are working with agency partners and vendors; however, most (79%) are not confident that their partners will be able to find a viable solution to replace these key identifiers.

Factors that influence marketers’ confidence in vendors’ preparedness include the introduction of new offerings and proactive communication about changes in preparedness

Against this backdrop, Epsilon argues that media mix management becomes more important, with marketers exploring shifting channels, partners and tactics, rather than reducing budgets.

In fact, 85% expect their digital advertising budgets to remain unaffected, with most (61%) planning to maintain their digital advertising spend, but will shift their marketing efforts to other channels and partners to reduce their dependence on cookies.

However, Google will retain the lion’s share, with 70% of marketers keeping their budgets with the tech giant, up 31% since 2020. Some 60% will shift to Facebook (down 20% since 2020).

Others channels which will benefit include with paid seaerch (55%), Amazon (53%), contextual advertising (49%), TikTok (47%), connected TV (43%), mobile in-app (43%) and onsite retail media (38%).

The report concludes: “There is a world in which your brand can do more than just survive cookie deprecation: You can thrive in the wake of it. The key is future-proofing your digital media strategy to ensure you can deliver to customers what they want, which is privacy and personalisation.

“For marketers who want to keep personalising and driving performance after cookie deprecation, first-party data provides the path forward—specifically, the first-party data of brands and website publishers (due to their direct relationships with consumers).

“With a solution that maximises this data, marketers can continue to deliver and measure personalised ads online – no third-party cookies necessary.”

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