A Web After Cookies and Its Impact on Marketing Measurement
It’s no secret that safeguarding consumer privacy is one of the most prominent challenges in today’s online landscape. The implementation of the sweeping European Union GDPR legislation in May 2018 is perhaps the most famous of the actions in this vein, but we still have a long way to go to get there. What is cookies’ role in all of this? We’ll explain.
Whenever we go on a website, we find an alert telling us about the use of third-party cookies, and we’re invited to accept them or not. This small gesture lets a piece code “go inside” our computer and collect some information about us. Those details will end up in the hands of the website’s administrator, who will then be able to use it in different ways, such as targeting us with ads on social media based on searches we ran on their website.
At this critical juncture where consumers are becoming increasingly concerned about privacy and security, cookies could soon cease to exist. Not only are there regulations impacting cookies, but web browsers like Safari on Apple iOS devices and Mozilla Firefox also have tracking prevention features that allow consumers to disable them. There are also third-party blockers on Chrome.
Will we be deleting cookies from the Internet for good?
Should cookies come off the web forever, brands looking to track consumer behavior to offer personalized experiences and digital marketing campaigns will find their work even more difficult.
The question that arises is a logical one: can we strike a balance? The ideal outcome would be to have a system that can safely capture and transmit every user’s preferences, and the user can decide to what extent they want to share that information.
The IAB Tech Lab made waves in September by proposing “...standardized privacy settings and consumer controls tied to a neutral, standardized identifier, as an improved mechanism for audience recognition and personalization.” They want this single identifier to “travel with the consumer and be broadcast throughout the digital supply chain, so that it may be reliably honored, respected, and propagated.”
If they have their way, this means that the end of cookies means that it won’t be the end of browser tracking. Instead of cookie-based monitoring, it will be another type of token. Another one of the standout points from their proposal is to require corporations looking to access them to demonstrate compliance as stipulated in these identifiers. Their plan includes a joint accountability system relying on software protocols and “the introduction of a standardized, controlled container for ad delivery to limit the execution of client-side code in order to reduce security, performance, and tracking concerns.”
New ways of discovering the customer journey in a post-cookie world
If tokens end up replacing cookies, the way we carry out digital marketing will also change. How? Econsultancy has some alternatives for marketing measurement for an Internet without cookies:
1. Marketing Mix Modeling
Marketing Mix Modeling (MMM) uses statistical modeling to measure advertising’s effectiveness by channel. We currently see this method employed to measure TV audiences, for example.
If there isn’t a lot of data, using this statistical model is not the best idea because it needs multiple years of data to gain the most accuracy.
2. Brand Studies
You can carry out brand studies by administering surveys to an audience that has seen a piece of advertising we want to analyze. This system is more comprehensive than Marketing Mix Modeling, but you cannot always carry the conclusions from one platform to other channels or actions.
3. Attribution Analysis
Attribution analysis examines the pathways towards conversion to determine the impact ads and channels a campaign employed had on the performance. It provides detailed information about how users move through the funnel from the first contact up until purchase.
4. Controlled and Uncontrolled Audience/Creative Testing
You can also run tests on individual platforms, either with or without control groups. It’s crucial to point out that the results you get using control groups tend to be more reliable.
Regardless, as the IAB noted, “[e]liminating cookies today without an adequate, planned transition to a new, publicly-owned mechanism for recording and honoring consumer preferences will disenfranchise millions of independent businesses, entrepreneurs, influencers, and individual communicators, and concentrate control of the internet with four or five giant technology companies.”