Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

MediaLad: How to survive the cookie cull

Who’s MediaLad? In digital media, everyone pretends they know who he, or she, is. We do. Or do we?

Everybody knows by now that Google is updating its browser to no longer accept third-party cookies and everyone is losing their minds (insert GIF about Heath Ledgers Joker here).

If you’ve been on holiday or just doing Dry January then you can swot up on the whole update here.

You can also read the numerous publications that covered the WHAT by Googling “chrome cookie deprecation” – but if you’re looking for what to possibly do, then read on. (It’s a big subject, so I’m going to write this in two parts).

A LOT of people have been asking what happens now that Google  has set a deadline of two years for end of the third-party cookie. So, what does that really mean?

It means that we now need to be thinking about other ways of utilising data and trying to disregard what we all have learnt, as that’s now pretty much redundant. We need to learn from those mistakes and move forward with a positive and long-term solution.

I wrote an article a few months back about the data that you have available to you as an advertiser and that still rings true – however I’ve since realised that there really are layers or dimensions even to what we’re working in. Many advertisers need bespoke solutions and there isn’t a one size fits all. Embrace that and work on how you’re going to move forward in a cookieless world.

I mentioned contextual data in that article and that is most likely the winner of the decade already. For those that will not unlearn what they know to find a new solution or fail to find a truly ID-led approach, contextual will provide the safety net and scalable solution they’re craving.

There is nothing wrong with this approach, but there are other solutions that provide you with accuracy and relevance to continue delivering all of the benefits of programmatic and digital advertising that we’ve grown to appreciate. Alongside that comes the additional formats that publishers can evolve and deliver within their tone of voice that resonates with audiences. Hey, that’s what we want, right?!

A question of scale

Scale. Often associated with RTB or programmatic and now we’re faced with the cull of 3PD (3rd Party Data) we’re going to see big drops in the kind of off-the-shelf data that we all ticked in the DSP if it matched a keyword we needed. We all did this seemingly without questioning exactly how it was built, even after GDPR.

It’s a major issue that I am sure you’re all reluctantly accepting right now but how can we actually get better or do things at scale differently?

Everyone is asking how they can deliver what they did before? Well, here’s an idea… don’t. Why not change? Be a little controversial and deliver value. I heard you laugh in your head, but seriously, value is still there for your client or marketing director and here’s how:

– Find publishers that you can rely on for accuracy. You should know who they are based on all those reports you create and the multiple lunches you’ve had.

– Find similar publishers in niche areas and start relationships with them to begin understanding why their audience resonates with your brand or service and what they can really do with a bit of help and guidance from you.

– Work with them to understand how they’re going to operate in this new world. They will still have data, and if they don’t, find ways to help them based on the breadth of knowledge or technology that you gain from meeting with the agencies/brands. Introduce them so that they too can learn of the wonders of adtech that might just deliver a better solution than spraying and praying.

– Charge what you need to find the audience that’s closest to your brief. It won’t be cheap but sometimes but that’s where we need to change. Here’s a test for you, would you rather 10,000 impressions targeting people you 100% (OK, 90%) know are in your target market (using publisher signed-in data) or 100,000 impressions not really knowing who they are (effectively 3PD)?

I’m doing some DMPs a disservice as some are actually very good, but times are changing. We’ve had chances to change and speak about actual value or incremental return to clients and yet we’re where we are because we took the easy option.

I wouldn’t be surprised if we see an emergence of contextual networks for the long tail, a bit like back in the day, to offer longer tail sites a route to demand – and yes people will lap this up but we have to be wary we just don’t go back to the 90s. Technology is so much better than this and we should be thinking about the granularity of our targeting rather than the scale.

Scale comes afterwards as we learn to walk again.

In part two of this column I’ll look at the changing role of publishers and the importance of creative.