It’s no secret that the digital advertising industry is in the throes of an identity crisis (regarding user identification, that is). Between government regulations and browsers like Safari and Firefox blocking third-party cookies, it’s a complicated time to be a marketer. To top it off, Google recently announced that it will start deprecating third-party cookies beginning with 1% of Chrome users globally in Q1 2024.
At Proximic by Comscore, we wanted to understand how marketers are navigating this challenging identity environment and what changes they are making to their programmatic strategy as a result. To find out, we went straight to the source and asked hundreds of marketers for their input.
Marketers revealed that signal loss from the declining access to third-party cookies is already having an impact on their programmatic strategies.
81% of marketers acknowledged they’re already experiencing challenges due to ongoing cookie deprecation and nearly the same amount, 78%, have observed difficulties thanks to privacy legislation.
As the portion of a given target audience that is reachable with third-party cookies continues to decrease, we’re seeing marketers starting to take corrective action by exploring different, cookie-free methods of reaching these audiences.
Our survey revealed that 75% of marketers expect to migrate some or most of their targeting to cookie-free tactics in 2023 to combat the scalability and performance challenges associated with steadily decreasing third-party cookie availability.
Despite the significant number of marketers taking action, nearly 1 in 5 respondents stated that they are not planning to utilize any cookie-free tactics in 2023 and even admitted that no one in their organization is pushing for the use or testing of such tactics.
This pattern of inaction often stems from a lack of understanding of what alternative options are available to take advantage of. The identification landscape has evolved at lightning speed over the last few years leaving many, in particular smaller brands and agencies, in the dust.
Although the waters are still murky around exactly when we’ll enter into a fully cookie-less reality, that doesn’t mean marketers should do nothing in the meantime.
With a lot of unknowns at play in the identity landscape it’s important to start with what is certain – some form of identity will be necessary moving forward. One way or another it will remain critical to understand a user’s behavior or interests.
While third-party cookies remain in circulation there is no harm in continuing to target against them, so long as this is only one portion of your overall strategy. To complement this portion, marketers should be exploring and testing other forms of user identity targeting that do not rely on cookies. The most popular options today range from traditional contextual analysis to predictive contextual technology as well as interest group targeting and alternative identifiers.
Targeting audiences with a combination of these identifiers is the most effective way to sustain broad reach, performance and spend efficiency.
“Gone are the days where brands and agencies can rely on a single targeting tactic to reach audiences. A multi-pronged, hybrid approach combining contextual segments, ID-less predictive targeting, alternative identifiers, and even the remains of cookies is the new reality to drive outcomes.” – Rachel Gantz, Managing Director, Proximic by Comscore
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Access the full results from our State of Programmatic industry survey.