There’s no perfect replacement for cookies

Getty Images
Getty Images

Here’s how brands can move forward in a cookieless world.

Ever since Google said it would phase out support for third-party cookies in Chrome, marketers and agencies have been scrambling to find a replacement.  

Every vendor suddenly has a solution: this ID, that link. “Don’t sweat it,” one vendor told me. “We’ve got it all figured out.” Regardless of what ad tech sales reps say, deep down, we all know this magical solution does not exist (yet).  

So besides refining their infrastructure to collect first-party data and spending more money with walled gardens that can offer granular measurement, what can marketers do?

Accept reality — and take action

The reality is that there is no perfect replacement for cookies. 

Keep talking to ad tech innovators about new solutions, but also focus on what you can do right now: implement proven strategies and technology that already exist, and think more creatively about content development.  

Focus on creative quality

We’re helping a top brand in the hospitality industry understand how the new ad environment could impact creative performance. This client invests a lot of time and resources on creative, but often can’t measure the impression it made on customers. 

 We’ve helped the client understand whether it’s the creative, the audience, the publisher or the sheer volume of impressions – or all of the above – that results in better performance.

By using tools such as Adelaide’s attention metric, we can quantify the quality of their ads. Without third-party cookies, correlating attention metrics to untrackable view-through conversions becomes possible.

Invest in production

Media agencies and marketers often overlook production. Clients ask for creative best practices, but how would we know, for example, that green text on a white background outperforms white text on a green background?  

Providers like Cortex, which can identify and analyze creative’s visual and contextual components to determine which elements drive performance, might be able to help.  

Website quality also can’t be ignored. More often than not, websites render more ads than content, which mars the overall experience. Great site design goes hand-in-hand with memorable ad experiences. 

Revamp your tech stack

As cookies go away, your current tech stack may not suffice. Now is the perfect opportunity to reassess. 

I hear you: vetting and onboarding tech partners is time consuming. But ad tech is always changing and requires constant attention and maintenance. Ask yourself: are your tech partners adding enough value to justify the cost? Are you too reliant on one partner or idea? 

Build strong relationships

Revitalize those old-fashioned PMP deals with a few premium publishers that drive results. Establish direct relationships and negotiate deals (like the good ol’ days).  

Publishers that have their own marketplaces and creative studios, such as Vox’s Concert, are great resources. Their wide reach and creative capabilities come in handy when deploying high-impact units designed for that publisher’s sites.

The bottom line

With cookies out of the picture, marketers and agencies have an opportunity to get back to basics and focus on creative and publisher relationships. 

Change opens the door to future opportunities. Cookies aren’t going to be around much longer. Instead of putting all of your faith into imperfect replacements, get to work creating an ad experience that resonates. 

Yuting Zhang, Senior Biddable Strategist, Media Kitchen

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