Gartner Identifies Three Steps Marketers Must Take to Prepare for a Cookies-Less World

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Marketing Leaders Should Take Immediate Steps to Come to Terms with Consent-Based Advertising

As third-party cookie data – which fueled two decades of media and data-driven performance advertising – comes to an end, marketing leaders and their teams must prepare for a future of consent-based advertising, according to Gartner, Inc.

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Google has announced that its Chrome browser will de-support third-party cookies by early 2022, a development that is projected to have significant consequences for marketing leaders responsible for advertising. This is in large part due to Google’s control of search, its central status in display advertising and it’s growing dominance of ad-supported streaming TV.

“In any post-cookie scenario, marketers should expect substantial and sustained disruption to digital advertising to last through the first-half of 2023, or longer,” said Eric Schmitt, senior director analyst in the Gartner for Marketers practice. “Marketing leaders responsible for ad budgets, media mix, planning and measurement will need to adjust strategies quickly as Google rewires its data policies, ad products and capabilities amidst an era of new privacy norms and elevated antitrust dynamics.”

As third-party cookies disappear, ad data and third-party processing will decline in breadth, availability and quality. In addition, ad targeting, buying and optimization processes will be disrupted and constrained, especially for performance-oriented campaigns and custom audiences. Current ad measurement, attribution and optimization practices will become peripheral or irrelevant, as cookie data gaps undermine attribution and optimization, incrementality testing and app-to-web tracking.

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To best prepare for the changes associated with a cookies-less world, marketing leaders should consider the following steps:

  • Prepare for Sustained Disruption: Develop a strategy to navigate the overlapping, cascading effects of identity and privacy changes from Google and Apple – through at least 1H23. Plan to make substantial shifts in the media mix, by retiring, reinventing, or redirecting cookie-related media spend.
  • Rethink Ad Measurement Practices: To gear up for an era of advertising experimentation, reset measurement baselines, invest in market research, and lock in key resources — from agency staff to publisher-direct deals.
  • Adapt to a Walled Garden World: Get comfortable with “walled garden world” scenarios that entail increased allocations to Google, Facebook, and Amazon. Expect to manage an increasing number of direct media buys with platforms and publishers — and run less cross-publisher programmatic display.

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