What Does Life After Third-Party Cookies Look Like?

What Does Life After Third-Party Cookies Look Like?

With the deadline looming for the removal of third-party cookies, marketers are busily reviewing their analytics options to ensure they have a solution in place ahead of time.

But how aware are they of the implications of the change? And what sort of progress are they making as the clock ticks down?

In our survey Marketing in the Cookieless Future we decided to find out by exploring:

  • The type of options marketers are considering outside of Chrome
  • What percentage are taking advantage of sophisticated attribution solutions
  • How many marketers are planning to move to GA4 despite rulings of illegality in the EU

The state of play on the plan for ending third-party cookies

Ahead of a review of the main highlights of the survey, we take a quick look at the key aspects of Google’s plans for the removal of cookies as follows:

  • Google has taken the decision to end the use of third-party cookies in their Chrome browser
  • This is in their schedule for the end of 2024 but has been a bit of a moveable feast with delays partly due to mixed industry feedback on their replacement solutions
  • As the dominant browser globally (Chrome has 65%+ of the market) and the decision has far reaching implications for solutions that rely on cookies for targeting and measurement of advertising

That sets the scene for us – but what did our survey tell us about how marketers are responding to the situation?

67% of marketers are exploring marketing options outside Chrome as cookies die

There is little doubt that marketers know they need to remove reliance on Google, despite its dominance.

And our survey has uncovered that 67% of them are clearly exploring their options outside of Chrome-based ad solutions. A figure that jumps up to 81% when we look at Ecommerce Directors alone and which might reflect their close proximity to the commercial realities within their businesses.

And when we dig a little deeper on their intentions for switching activity away from search and social – an overwhelming 84% are indicating that they are looking to move budget into alternative ad spend areas.

So where is this spend going? Here are the highlights:

  • 87% of retail marketers are looking to increase spend on digital video. With way more than half of this being spent outside of YouTube (36%) – on Direct TV/OTT (51%)
  • And data from the IAB seems to bear this out. With spend in the sector expected to almost double from £1.17bn in 2021 to £2.31bn by 2026
  • The other standout in our survey is the continued growth of Retail Media Networks – with 31% of respondents identifying this as an area for growth

The challenge for brands is that this represents a lot of emerging new ad silos.

Silos that need connected attribution and highly accurate cookie-free measurement to ensure that marketers are able to take advantage of some of the cheaper opportunities – while auction volumes are low in these media categories.

Sadly, only 64% of marketers use sophisticated attribution models

The key consideration for brands in the cookieless future is that effective attribution is essential to unify performance right across your media mix.

And it needs to be cookieless.

Only cookieless attribution ensures you can:

  • trust the data that is being put in front you
  • remove bias that can be inherent in single channel reporting and let you
  • tie conversions back to revenue in a way that enables you to drive and influence effective ROI

So, it is slightly disappointing to see that only 64% of retail marketers use more sophisticated attribution models. Despite the fact that those models have been available for over a decade.

Part of the reason behind this could well be that, very often, they don’t deliver the predictable outcomes you are looking for.

This is down to the partial tracking views they provide due to limitations in cookie-based tracking.

The extent to which these partial views can really skew your view of what is, and isn’t, working in your media mix is shown in the example below.

The answer to the issue? Marketers need a solution that compliantly collects your analytics data, uses AI to rebuild and unify this data – and identifies complete customer journeys.

And which attributes value across every touchpoint.

84% of marketers plan to use GA4 despite illegality rulings

Indications are that 84% of retail marketers are planning to make the move to GA4.

For us, this is a damning statistic on the state of web analytics.

The accelerated, forced requirement for existing Universal Analytics (UA) and GA360 customers to move to GA4 has its genesis in the declared illegality of both products in the EU.

The issue stems from Google’s inability to limit access by US Law Enforcement officials to data in the EU. Something that contravenes GDPR regulations.

Google’s response was to effectively concede that UA and GA360 would remain illegal which led to them insisting that existing users move over to GA4 by 1st July 2023. Which is continuing to cause disruption for GA users.

Not least due to the fact that there is no data portability between products.

Which only leaves us scratching our head at the 84% stat that we opened this section with!

Get the full survey now

If all of this has given you food for thought then download a copy of the full survey here.