Third party cookies are history; marketing’s future is all about the moment

Andrew Molan, Head of Product
17th May 2021

Brands might be worried about life after cookies, but seismic shift now underway presents an opportunity to refocus on the bigger picture rather than micro conversion targets. Those that harness the best technologies to put their first party data to work – and can layer in contextual, environmental and macro-economic factors to capture the ‘moment’ of marketing – are the brands that will own the future.

As the walled gardens have grown higher, and with the demise of the third party cookie, it’s becoming more difficult for brands to directly attribute all marketing activity to the granular levels we’ve become accustomed.

But did we ever really need the third party cookie? True success happens when brands and agencies can work together to establish KPI’s and work towards demonstrable business results, with the right mix of technical innovation and strong partnerships rather than focusing on micro targets. You don’t need a cookie to report on a lift in sales or revenue.

Traditional measurement is broken

Measurement has always been fragmented and confusing, to the point that our industry struggles to agree on standards. Case in point; views, impressions, clicks, viewability. 

We all understand how vital attribution is but very few have nailed it. Unless your brand can effectively track every interaction from every channel, including email, in-store, and offline metrics, most attribution models can be thrown out the window. Attribution gets harder when brands can no longer measure across domains – a development heralded by the removal of third party cookies.

Digital success is more than just how an individual channel performs. A well-configured digital ecosystem and the right technology to act on that data is critical to all campaign planning, activation, and measurement. And to avoid losing sight of the wood for the trees, this must align with overarching business goals and ladder up through a measurement framework.

Cookies are overrated

Are third party cookies working anyway? On a typical day, I use at least three to five different devices, so in most cases, brands consider me to be three to five different people. This means I get a different experience on the train in the morning, in the office, or watching catch-up TV at home in the evening. 

So, was the third party cookie improving our ability to reach the individual? I would argue it was helping reach an audience but fragmenting the experience and frustrating consumers.

What does the future look like?

In future, digital maturity and maintaining the ability to ‘connect the dots’ will become more critical, but it will be different. In a post-cookie world, first party data becomes increasingly valuable – as does consent and compliance. So brands need to think about the post-cookie consumer, and how to collect and maintain personal data in a privacy-safe manner.

Brands that build meaningful relationships will always be thinking about the value exchange for their customer. Brands must put themselves in the consumers’ shoes and consider why they should share their data and how the experience will be improved when they do so: The value exchange must be mutual and articulated simply and clearly.

There will be a greater focus on contextual targeting, which we know increases brand relevance and capitalises on the moment. To truly get an edge, though, advertisers need to focus on capturing the ‘when.’ Consider how you can capitalise on opportunities when people are talking about your brand or category and when consumer sentiment is high – this is when your campaigns will be most impactful, and your customer is most likely to engage with your brand.

Make your first party data work

At Foxcatcher, we work with our brands and partners to build their first-party data as a learning set, to truly understand their business and opportunity. We believe that marketing has never been more significant because of the wealth of insight it generates about a brand’s customers, and we are building platforms to enable this.

For example, Worldview, our proprietary media planning and activation platform uses algorithms to tell buyers what media to buy, volume and when; much like buying and selling shares on the stock market.

We see a future where the insight generated from marketing is integrated back into the business at an intrinsic level to help inform product strategy, commercial targets, and the overall growths of brands.

Some of the most progressive, exciting, and successful brands I’ve had the pleasure of working with are those that can step back, look at the bigger picture, work collaboratively and allow the specialists to do what they do best, sharing goals and business successes along the way.


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