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Preparing for When the Cookies Crumble

The marketing industry has come a long way in accepting the revolutionary changes occurring in consumer-targeted advertising. The next step in preparing for a cookieless future is pioneering new ways to access additional data in a privacy compliant manner.

“If you haven’t already, you need to start getting very serious about all of this because there’s no avoiding it,” says Cathy Taylor, US Commissioning Editor at WARC, the ultimate go-to resource for new research, case studies, best practice, benchmarking and analysis. “It really upsets the apple cart in terms of how most digital marketing has been done traditionally.”

One of the first marketing reporters to cover digital media, Taylor joined ITWC CMO Fawn Annan for a June 2022 episode of CMO Talks, a podcast series designed by ITWC to showcase strategies for gaining a competitive edge through the intersection of marketing and technology. Their lively discussion focused on meeting the challenges of a future without cookies.

Life Without Cookies

A frequent speaker at industry events and conferences, Taylor explained the consequences of a cookieless marketplace, commenting on deviations in the relationship that advertisers have to data. “It’s going to change things in a number of fundamental ways and consolidate further power in what they call the walled garden,” she says. “I would also say that it really hurts personalization because it’s no longer the case that an advertiser can track you across all sorts of websites.”

No Advertiser is an Island

Another big change, according to Taylor will be an increase in strategic alliances that extend advertisers’ access to much-needed first-party data. “I think we’re going to see more and more partnerships between a publisher media brand on one side and a major marketer on the other,” she says. “That’s how a lot of this is going to work going forward.”

Context is Everything

In the future as Taylor sees it, ad identifiers will be more or less replacements for third party cookies. She also predicts a return to contextual advertising, finding it funny that everything old is new again. “Remember when the newspaper used to run ads about clothing next to the fashion section,” she asks Annan. “Well guess what? It’s all coming back.”

Pressing the Restart Button

In Taylor’s estimation, media owners have subscription data that can help advertisers target consumers more effectively as third party cookies sunset. “Given the popularity of video, whether it’s just watching Youtube or watching Disney Plus, which – like Netflix – is soon moving to an ad supported tier, the universe is about to get very compelling for advertisers,” she says. “You see all these solutions popping up, but things are constantly changing. Google thought it had a solution a year ago and then it had to throw it out and start all over again.”

Asked what she advises for thriving in this time of turmoil, Taylor is positive. “This is in some ways a really promising time because it gives us an opportunity to press the reset button on how digital advertising has been done,” she says. “Reliance on cookies just grew up as a solution with not a lot of controls and it wasn’t necessarily right. Now is the time to get back in balance and find solutions that work for both brands and consumers.”

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