Press: Marketing in a Cookie-less World

Marketers need to find other ways of working than with cookies, and technical expertise is required.


There are a lot of discussions about marketing in a cookie-less world right now, and whether or not digital marketing efforts will need to fundamentally change within the near future. Are you Marketing Managers, Directors, and CMO:s part of these discussions or are the discussions being held behind closed doors between tech specialists?

You should be part of the discussions. Let me explain why.

As you know, cookies introduced the birth of digital advertising as we know it. With the introduction of smartphones and tablets, digital advertising and tracking became even more effective and relevant, leading to better targeting and customer communication, more optimized campaigns, higher conversion rates, and increased sales. However, along with the increasing use of cookies, came an increasing concern on privacy and consumer data security, leading to 3rd party cookie blocking, ad blocking, and new legal frameworks to protect data and personal information, e.g. the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA). A recent direct result of this, is the review of Coop’s use of Google Analytics, performed by the Swedish Data Inspection Authority, after complaints regarding consumer privacy and potential transfer to a third-party country. In this case meaning from the EU to the U.S., as Google is american-owned.

Now, many of you are familiar with the privacy concerns and the legal frameworks, but do you really understand the impact they have on the big tech giants, which will undeniably lead to marketing efficiency issues, and future ROIs taking a big hit? If you don’t understand, do people in your organisation? I don’t blame you, or them, for not understanding, because this stuff is technical, and how technical do you really have to be, to be strategic, right? I’m not a technical person, to say the least, so I won’t get into why you need to start improving the accessibility and usage of 1st party data, or how new tech solutions will become increasingly important, or the difference between deterministic vs. probabilistic identifiers, or even how login alliances, contextual targeting, AI, and machine learning will be used going forward.

But what I do want to get into is the fact that many internet browsers and other web platforms, i.e. the tech giants, have already been forced to remove the capability to place 3rd party cookies, and with Chrome, the world’s most used browser, announcing it will phase out the use of 3rd party cookies in 2022, digital advertising as we know it, is about to change drastically. You need to find other ways of working than with cookies, and you’ll need technical expertise since pixels and scripts that are being set by browsers won’t work anymore. One of the solutions to be able to continue with effective digital marketing, is to move tracking and measurement from client-side to server-side.

2021 will undoubtedly be “the Year of the Server”.

Again, I’m not a technical person, but I’ve got vast experience of leading marketing organizations through change, and I know when it’s time to act. I understand if you as a marketer feel that this is not part of your job, or that you think it’s good to let go of the measurable in favour of the creative. However, marketing will continue to be the most effective when the creative and the measurable are in a symbiotic relationship, that’s when you’ll experience true growth. So, start speaking to your tech guys, research, learn, get advice, prepare, get organized. Otherwise, I’m afraid it won’t matter how smart or creative your future marketing strategies, plans, and activities are, your ROI will give you a rude awakening. Marketing in a cookie-less world means a huge shift for brands and marketers, most likely the biggest since the birth of digital advertising, and I have a feeling we’re not completely aware or prepared enough to tackle this shift. This needs to be on every marketer’s to-do-list, from CMO:s to marketing coordinators. And for god’s sake, don’t underestimate the change.

David Lincoln Blom

COO & Partner

david@ctrldigital.com

2020-12-07

This debate article was published in Dagens Media, 2020-12-08.