6 Strategies for a Cookieless & Privacy-by-Design Future | Industry Insights | All MKC Content | ANA

6 Strategies for a Cookieless & Privacy-by-Design Future


With impending third-party cookie deprecation and evolving privacy regulations, marketers face new challenges in reaching customers and measuring campaign performance.

However, with the right strategies, these challenges can become opportunities.

Here are key tactics to prepare for marketing success in a post-cookie, privacy-by-design world — and gain a competitive advantage in 2024.

1. Assess Your Risk
Start by conducting a risk assessment to uncover how much you — or if you're a marketing agency, your clients — will be affected by growing privacy legislation and by Google fully deprecating cookies by Q3 2024. Not every advertiser will be equally impacted by this. Examine:

  • How you're deploying your tracking — is it server-side, for example?
  • What browsers you advertise on. Not every brand reaches audiences on Chrome. For instance, some high-end retailers mostly advertise on Apple Safari, so they've already adapted to a cookieless landscape.
  • If you already have access to technologies like data clean rooms and identity solutions through existing partnerships with companies like Meta, Amazon Ads, and TransUnion.

Use the risk assessment to uncover your organization or clients' readiness for data, privacy, and identity both now and moving forward. This will help guide you in determining where — and how much time and effort you need — to dedicate to maintaining measurement and targeting in a cookieless advertising ecosystem.

2. Assemble Three Key Types of Tech
To ensure success, you'll want to have access to three different kinds of technologies:

  • Audience targeting solutions that can be used without third-party cookies. Examples include contextual targeting, first-party data targeting, publisher data targeting and geo-targeting.
  • Identity solutions. These solutions essentially serve as the backbone of any cookieless strategy, helping you identify audiences without relying on cookies.
  • Measurement solutions such as data clean rooms, incrementality testing and media mix modeling (MMM).

What's key is to have all three solutions in place. Without one, the other won't work. So, focus on identifying options for each broad category of this tech.

3. Focus on First-Party Data
Robust first-party data will be more critical than ever in a cookieless world. Of all the different cookie alternative targeting options out there, your first-party data is, without a doubt, the most important. Start collecting customer data with their consent directly through website interactions, surveys, and value exchanges. Then, clean and segment first-party data to build rich customer profiles and lookalike audiences.

Explore partnerships to augment and enrich first-party data. Identity providers can help you create your own first-party data by building an audience within their platform. In addition, with Goodway Group's Passport One, marketers can not only both augment and enrich existing first-party data, but also start building their own. You can also work directly with publishers to activate their first-party data and target different audiences.

Publishers have direct relationships with customers and will play an increasingly vital role — especially in custom audience creation.

"But first-party data isn't just your most powerful targeting solution — it's also a recommended starting place to prepare for cookie deprecation," said Ryan Engle, the vice president of identity products and platform partnerships at TransUnion. "Recent research shows that most brands haven't identified cookie alternatives yet. If this sounds like you, you're not alone. There are so many options available that it can feel overwhelming and daunting to know even where to begin.

"The answer is simple — begin with your first-party data. Beyond doing a risk assessment, build a strategy to acquire consented data from your customers," Engle continued. "Be intentional about it — don't ask for too much information, or you may scare consumers off. Instead, just ask for what's most important to identify and understand your audiences: maybe just a phone number or an email, plus a couple of key insights relevant to your brand. You can always take more steps later and build out a richer customer profile over time."

4. Test Identity and Targeting Solutions
Identity solutions will advance the way you measure effectiveness of data across devices and channels. Test emerging identity solutions from providers like the TransUnion, as well as LiveRamp, Habu, and Infosum. Examples of other solutions include the Trade Desk's Unified ID 2.0 (UID2), which has gained momentum recently as a cookie alternative.

Don't hold off on implementing or testing identity and targeting solutions — start testing now. Many marketers deferred testing because of skepticism since Google has delayed its cookie deprecation timeline more than once. But Google has already begun implementing this timeline. We can expect to see third-party cookies start being disabled for 1 percent of users in Q1 2024. The point is to not wait — you don't have the luxury of waiting now, especially since privacy measures have already been put into place for years at this point with GDPR, iOS and other legislation.

5. Get into Data Collaboration Tools
Let's say you have an identity solution in place. You also have collected first-party data and have activated it. But now you want to uncover critical information to make decisions about where to invest your media and what media mix to use. Measurement solutions like data collaboration tools can help with understanding the effectiveness of the media that you're running. Data collaboration tools also have data clean rooms as options.

Data clean rooms allow secure collaboration on customer data from different sources. Begin with a simple use case and then test clean room capabilities with walled gardens like Meta Advanced Analytics and Google Ads Data Hub. Over time, expand to include more publisher and third-party data partners via interoperable solutions. The goal is to start small — and, as with testing identity solutions, start now to plan for the future.

6. Rethink Measurement
Cookie-based attribution will fade. But you must start to think about measurement solutions that are more tied to the overall impact of marketing. As part of your post-cookie measurement strategy, adopt incrementality testing and MMM to understand how marketing affects the bottom line.

These measurement options will allow you to measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts without having to know on a person-by-person basis who was exposed to an ad and converted at the end of the day.

Start Testing Now for Life After Cookies

The path forward requires proactive adaptation. With testing, the right solutions in and a flexible approach to identity, marketers can overcome emerging identity challenges and build strategies to thrive in a privacy-first era.

The companies that lead in adopting new solutions will gain an advantage as the digital ecosystem evolves. Don't hesitate to start — the time is now. The good news is that by proactively following the strategies outlined here, you'll have the time, guidance and tangible next steps to drive forward in a privacy-first future.

The views and opinions expressed are solely those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the official position of the ANA or imply endorsement from the ANA.

Alex Bloore is the VP of product and data at Goodway Group. He has 13+ years of experience in software and product leadership in many industries from medical software to PropTech to adtech and marketing. As a subject matter expert for data clean rooms and identity solutions, Alex has presented at various events including Programmatic I/O and been featured in publications such as AdExchanger. An executive leader of award-winning cross-functional product and data teams, he's driven strategic technical innovation across Goodway Group's diverse client base. Alex currently lives in Austin, Texas, with his wife and three sons.

Andrea Kwiatek is the director of strategic partnerships at Goodway Group, where she manages existing partnerships with leading and emerging players across the digital advertising ecosystem and facilitates deal negotiations with strategic partners to bring innovative solutions to our clients. With extensive experience in the adtech space, Andrea specializes in understanding IT management and collaborating with functional teams in development and execution. She has been featured as an expert discussing topics like first-party data, CTV and supply-side platforms in AdExchanger, New Digital Age and more. Andrea lives in Erie, Pennsylvania, with her husband, three sons, and two dogs, and is a die-hard Pittsburgh sports fan.

Robert Webster is the global vice president of strategy of CvE and a marketing technologist who has been at the forefront of the industry for over 20 years. From humble beginnings at startups acquired by Yahoo and AOL, Rob then led leading agency data and technology teams, notably at MediaCom. He was co-founder of Canton in 2018, which was acquired by CvE in 2022. In his current role at CvE, Rob works to solve the toughest challenges in the market such as reliable attribution and identity. His thought leadership has been featured in publications including Adwanted UK and Adweek. Rob lives in London, U.K., and is a die-hard rugby fan.