What the demise of web cookies means for advertising

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With initiatives to prioritize consumer privacy companies like Appleapp trackers and third-party cookies are disappearing, impacting the efficiency of traditional performance advertising methods.

How does it sound to pay 25% more to reach the same audience next year? While no one wants to spend more to get less or the same, that will be the reality for 44% of marketersaccording to GetApp.

Perhaps these higher costs are a fact that you have already accepted. Maybe you’re not ready to make drastic changes to your advertising approach, or your company has decided to cut its advertising budget. But what if you need to spend 50% or more on the same target audience the following year? At what point will the pain become too much that you are forced to make a complete basic paradigm shift? What is really at risk here?

Related: Data in 4 flavors and the demise of the cookie

The downfall of the cookie

That we are forced to pay more with less quality tracking and measurement should really come as no surprise. The whole space has been the Wild West for so long, and third-party tracking has made it easy to find our target audience – something had to give.

In advertising, we had easy access to audiences. If anyone is watching perrier on one website and then sparkling water on another, cookies tell us they are in the market for beverages. For consumers, the disturbing experience of talking about cats with your phone nearby and then seeing ads for cat food on Facebook seems to have crossed a line: it’s just scary. In reality, 69% of people are concerned about how their data is being collected.

We are still in the Wild West. Even though the EU has adopted the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), privacy experts say doubt its robustness. In the US – where a US version of the GDPR has not yet been passed by Congress – companies are basically only required to display popups asking users to accept all cookies or not and 76% of people choose to ignore it. Who really goes into advanced cookie settings and carefully selects 36 different tracking options on every website they visit?

The greatest risk is to discover who our audience is, what they are interested in and where they hang out so we know where to best serve them. Instead, if we play our cards right, it could be a win-win: customers can get ads they’re actually interested in (and in the medium they prefer), while advertisers can become more efficient and run out of money having to waste time showing ads to people who aren’t interested.

This becomes a matter of data: who has the best first-party data and how do we get the most out of it?

Powerful dates, served fresh (and safe).

Fortunately, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel; the framework for getting and leveraging powerful data is already in place; we just have to use it. Things like retail media and first-party shopper data aren’t typical media investments for marketers and can be easily overlooked, but regardless of whether you’re selling a physical product in the retail space, retail media platforms have great tools to activate for your brand.

Retail media data is better because it gives a clearer picture of who is actually on the market. Just think what all that Amazon single sign-in user information can provide: everything a customer buys; the movies they watch; all the items they look at in all of the web properties Amazon owns, such as IMDB or DPreview – the list goes on.

Let’s dig deeper and think all companies that Amazon owns, such as MGM Studios. Amazon buys bits and pieces of what are powerful touchpoints to identify customer interests, ages, and preferences to create a comprehensive view of the audience.

Now if I skip all the horror movies to watch my favorite new comedy, Amazon knows what I like. When I binge a new Podcast on Wonderly, it provides insight into what excites me. Combine that with Amazon’s ownership of other publications like Twitch – the top game streaming platform in the US – Alexa devices and Whole Foods, and Amazon not only has the data, but it also has the capabilities to interact with the public.

Unlike the creepy social media ads that seem to know a bit too much, most of the first hand data is brand safe. Amazon, for example, has been working for the past 20 years to one of America’s most trusted companies, and it wouldn’t risk that by tinkering with data in an unscrupulous way. So, using this kind of information allows us to identify audiences in a way that is safe for our brands, all while being comprehensive and giving us access to top-notch ad inventory.

Related: How Marketers Can Prepare to Remove Third-Party Cookies

A no brainer

As we adapt to the changing tides of the digital advertising landscape, a new way is needed – and the solution really isn’t complicated. While 81% of companies still relying on the sinking ship of third-party cookies, we can use our own first-hand data in conjunction with retailer data through Amazon Marketing Cloud to build a powerful image of our consumers and show them ads where they come together.

This goes beyond simple awareness ads – which don’t have many useful metrics (in the prehistory of TV and radio, it was really just general demographic data from surveys) – by that awareness for a specific event. With a clickable icon or a QR code in a StreamingTV, we now have traffic to the landing page and information about how people interacted with it – a constant supply of measurable and trackable consumer behavior.

And we can do all of this, from discovering our audience and shopping behavior to advertising platforms and measurement, while making the most of our advertising dollars and respecting our customers’ privacy.

Take that, cookies.