September 23, 2023

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Five Tips For Evaluating Cookie Alternatives

Data-Driven Thinking” is written by members of the media community and contains fresh ideas on the digital revolution in media. 

Today’s column is written by Frances Giordano, group director at Media Kitchen.

 As we move closer to the February 2022 sunset of third-party cookies by Google, marketers must identify alternative ways to capture information and execute campaigns to the same degree third-party cookies allow for today. These functions include ad targeting, ad measurement, user tracking and all forms of personalization.

There are a multitude of tracks being worked on across the industry to develop and align on a suitable replacement the most recent being PeLICAn, a measurement-specific solution from Neustar. While some have taken a siloed approach, like the walled gardens or Verizon, others are working towards a larger coalition like The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0.

With so many options available, how should marketers evaluate potential solutions? 

  1. Ask questions. 

One of the most important factors in evaluating cookie alternatives is understanding the methodology behind the development of these IDs and user graphs. Asking questions is fundamental to understanding the nuts and bolts of the different offerings for evaluation. What is the source of the data? Is the graph used to match these IDs proprietary? Depending on the partner, these questions will vary to ensure a deep understanding of the offering.

  1. Evaluate data richness and reliability.

The scope, quality and reliability of data that marketers use has a direct correlation with the value of the insights it can deliver. Start by looking at the source of the data. Common sources of data include offline purchase data and first-party identifiers (i.e. login info). How reliable is it? Do we trust this data source to connect users across the media landscape? First-party identifiers, like email addresses, are going to the strongest data sources – as long as they are leveraged in a privacy safe manner.

  1. Evaluate scale.

Marketers should also look for alternatives that can match the scale of the current solutions. What is the reach of the data? Does the reach span all devices? Is TV included in the reach of this data? If the solution reaches too narrow an audience, it’s likely to be effective only in very targeted instances. It is also important to do quality assurance on reach information as many partners will aggregate that data. Based on the information we have, does the reach number seem feasible? Are we counting devices or people? Can we compare this reach number to other platforms to confirm validity?

  1. Consider your reliance on the walled gardens.

Do you have heavy investment or reliance on the walled gardens – Google, Facebook, Amazon? If so, how much? It’s probably not realistic for most advertisers to move away from walled gardens completely. Answering how reliant on walled gardens you should be depends on the advertiser, the vertical and the historical reliance on the data from these walled gardens. While few advertisers are going to face a reality in which they can move away from any walled garden entirely, the scale at which they can do so will vary.

  1. Do your due diligence – especially if you plan on using one ID solution.

With so many options available, will any ID truly be unified? It depends. If client budgets and goals permit, focusing the totality of your media strategy on one ID solution would allow for a consistent identifier across the board. If that is your plan, ensuring you spend ample time on due diligence to compare the various offerings becomes even more crucial for success. This due diligence includes understanding the gaps that a single ID solution is going to offer you, especially when it comes to the walled gardens.

The bottom line

While many marketers may look for the perfect single go-to ID solution as a clear replacement, it’s probably not realistic, particularly for advertisers that rely heavily on multiple walled gardens. What is more likely to be a reality for the majority of advertisers is a fundamental shift back to a fragmented media landscape. 

That raises a whole other list of questions. How do we evaluate the right combination of ID solutions? Once we find the right mix, how do we measure success across different attribution methodologies and ID solutions? How do we use various data sources to make decisions? These are age old questions that were put on the back burner as the majority of advertisers leaned on cookies to connect their strategies and answer their questions. Without third-party cookies, these questions come back to the surface and will be a big part of the conversation as we move towards February 2022.

Follow The Media Kitchen (@themediakitchen) and AdExchanger (@adexchanger) on Twitter.