The Cookiepocolypse Grows Closer – Are Advertisers Ready?

Last September we posted a blog titled The Coming Cookiepocolypse and the Future of Ad Effectiveness in which we explored the upcoming elimination of third-party tracking cookies, aka, the “cookiepocolypse” and how it was sending tremors throughout the digital advertising world, particularly with those that rely on tracking cookies and other identifiers for measuring ad effectiveness.
Additionally, we noted that advertisers would need to use a panel, a group of people willing to provide consent to measurement and that Embee provides the solution. We’ll tell you more about the solution toward the end of this post, but first, here’s a look at what’s happening in the industry now, and all the various ways how it’s going to impact the information that will be available to advertisers as well as the challenges it will create for them, begging the question – ‘Are advertisers ready?’

cookie change is coming image

What’s Happening Now

  • Chrome will drop support for third-party cookies in 2022 amid a general flurry of consumer-privacy-centric initiatives aimed at eliminating publishers’ abilities to uniquely identify visitors by all browsers.
  • Back door methods to uniquely identify people are being shut and sealed as quickly as they can be invented in all browsers and all devices (see Apple ITP).
  • Fingerprinting techniques will be blocked, and opt-in tracking solutions for advertisers will be limited and unlikely to be appealing to users.
  • Google has started to address the need for advertisers to target advertising, announcing that Chrome will not support any solution that can uniquely identify individuals.
  • Google is currently playing with a number of potential systems with bird-themed names – TURTLEDOVE, FLEDGE, FloC and others.

The common thread is that advertisers will no longer be able to say “this is John and he nearly bought a coffee maker on last week”. Instead, John (specifically John’s browser) will announce to advertisers that he’s simply “a middle-aged man in Texas who might be interested in coffee makers”.

How This Will Impact the Information Available to Advertisers

That’s right, the information that will be available to advertisers moving forward will not be as specific, or as plentiful, as it has been in the past. It is also important to understand that the interest groups that a browser broadcasts will be:

  • Generated automatically by the browser, and web pages are not likely to be able to influence them. However, there will likely be a new industry like SEO whose intent is to make web pages that trigger browsers to put people into interest groups
  • Based only on the last 7 days of browser history
  • Based only on the browser associated with the device it’s being used on: your phone browser will know nothing of your laptops’ interest groups and vice versa. Chrome will know nothing of Firefoxes’ interests, and so on
  • Any “interest group” created by the browser will be shared with at least 100 people, and algorithms will be running to ensure that any combination of interest groups is not able to identify someone.

The Obstacles and Problems Advertisers Will Have to Navigate

  • Direct remarketing, for example, to an individual who abandoned a cart and failed to check out, will likely be impossible (though some solutions are proposed to handle this)
  • Ad attribution will be almost impossible except within walled gardens (e.g. where the ad network is embedded into the publisher)
  • A/B testing of advertising solutions is no longer possible. Even Facebook is sunsettingits A/B testing functions
  • Attribution by location is no longer possible. Facebook is also canceling this service.
  • Even though short customer journeys (less than 7 days) are limited in the ability to follow individuals, longer customer journeys (such as for a holiday or car) will be near impossible

So, What’s the Solution?

Attribution and A/B testing are essential to effective ad testing but are made impossible if users are anonymous.

Fortunately, panels exist which can follow an individual through the customer journey across their app, web, and even brick-and-mortars, through the purchase lifecycle, from research through to purchase and repurchase.

Embee has such a panel, one that is fully opted-in and GDPR/CCPA compliant, and that allows the current and retrospective tracking of consumer journeys. Advertisers can match by advertising ID to assign panelists into A/B groups, and the desired outcome can be measured through many touch points including presence at a point of interest, checkout in the Amazon app, or on a web page.

To learn more about how Embee can help advertisers, check out our latest Case Study about how Embee measured the effectiveness of DoorDash’s ads on Instagram in a cookie-free environment.