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3 must-dos to deal with the death of the cookie

The big news in the advertising world came when Google announced the phasing out of support for third-party cookie tracking tools in Chrome browsers by 2022.

Google’s biggest rival in ad-buying, The Trade Desk ($TTD) experienced some level of waning confidence with investors as it attempted to navigate past the news. Despite growth in its customer usage of its platform, ad-tech companies faced headwinds as the industry tried to digest what a cookie-less world would mean in the future.

Whilst some marketers are scrambling to make sense of and adjust to changes, other industry leaders, feel that the death of the cookie should have happened a while ago. Allison Murphy, senior vice-president of ad innovation, The New York Times, commented:

"Cookies have been horribly flawed in terms of privacy and efficacy... Instead of looking to ’replace the cookie’, the industry needs to explore areas such as contextual targeting and more advancement in attribution and measurement methods that don’t require tracking users."

Regardless of the mixed emotions that have come to the fore, in a cookie-less world, brands are forced to pivot, analyse and monetise their trove of owned data. They need to now organise their data to understand customer behaviour better in order to retain, upsell, and cross-sell their products/services.

Here are 3 must-dos as a brand communicator/marketer in a cookie-less world.

First, close the cookie gap with first-party data

For starters, you should add first-party pixels (code) to your website and apps to empower you with insights on your customer interests and behaviour. Grow your loyalty programmes to provide your brand a place of exchanging customer’s information for rewards. Place an emphasis on personalisation, customisation in brand experiences that will lead to retention and ability to upsell.

Perhaps one of the most significantly impacted areas is the new metrics that can be used to measure success and how conversions should be tracked. Marketers will have to find ways to "stitch" the interactions so as to track the pathway to conversion. Use the available tools where interactions are tracked and use an incremental testing approach to discover and plot the trail across different channels that you are marketing on.

How about the use of emails for ad targeting? Well, behavioural data about profiles (specific email addresses) when they interact with your website and marketing material will be the next big thing that brands/businesses can rely on.

Second, revisit your brand positioning

If it has been a while since the last brand review / audit, take the time to do so, to understand where your brand stands in terms of differentiation and strengths.

Remember that your customers’ habits have probably changed given the greater amount of digital engagement hours from the pandemic and all that creativity that was unleashed in generating view; they would be expecting and demanding greater savviness in engagement, and authenticity in connection. Pivoting and building brand equity is the name of the post-COVID era game.

Third, increase your brand’s stickiness through creativity

A lot of what brands have been doing in the cookie era has been about short-term thinking to keep the lights on. The addiction to cookies is now about to enter into the cold turkey phase where many marketers and agencies alike will have to dig deeper and do away with hiding behind the easy route of the trappings of “cookie-cutter” marketing.

Explore alternative tactics. Handle your prospecting through strategic data collaboration with publishing or ad-tech companies. They have precise customer clues given that they are closer to your prospective customers and the partnership will result in the digital campaign being more effective. Use creative targeting techniques. An interesting approach could be through geo-targeting.

On the content front for example, what may need to happen to increase brand stickness is to up the ante on creativity and deliver excellent content to generate a following for your brand. Follow how some top newsrooms and periodicals have reinvented themselves to deliver top content. How are your brand followers responding to your brand generated content? Where are the fatigue points in your content strategy? What fresh perspective needs to be brought in, in terms of content engagement?

Copyright SYL+JAS (c) 2021. All rights reserved. No part of this article may be reproduced or rewritten in any form without expressed permission from the agency.

If you require an agency to help walk you through these changes, do reach out to our team at


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