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The cookie crumbles for digital advertising measurability

Prediction 4 - Digital goes from the most to least consistently measurable form of media due to the decline of third-party cookies.

The transition from analogue to streaming in the entertainment industry serves as a modern analogy for the deprecation of third-party cookies. Much like how video rental and music shops were slow to adapt to the rise of streaming services like Netflix and Spotify, many advertisers aren’t prepared for a cookieless future. Just as Blockbuster's failure to pivot to streaming led to its decline, brands that continue to rely heavily on third-party cookies for digital advertising will find themselves at a disadvantage when cookies are finally phased out by Google in 2024.

Marketers are scrambling for alternatives that not only respect consumer privacy but also enable effective communications. In the quest for a future-proof solution, Identity Graphs have emerged as a tool for audience targeting. ID Graphs use personal data to create unique identifiers that can be linked across media platforms. Whilst this sounds simple, the reality of this approach is fraught with issues including ethical concerns (Statista, 2022), technical limitations (Google, 2023) and fragmentation of identity (Gartner, 2023).

ID Graphs are also costly to maintain, with their sustainability increasingly in question as 80% of digital media investment occurs in walled gardens (Google, Meta etc.) that do not share a common identifier or ID details out of their systems (GroupM 2020-23). ITV, Channel 4 & Sky have made their media inventory available for individual targeting through alternative technology solutions like Clean Rooms.

The inconvenient truth is that there isn’t a silver bullet solution to the cookie conundrum. We believe the industry needs to innovate rather than replicating outdated methods. Brands who embrace new methods now will breakthrough in 2024.

These methods will include first-party, contextual and artificial intelligence – with competitive advantage being derived from how brands best convergence these data streams within their media ecosystem in unique ways.

At EssenceMediacom, we are helping brands breakthrough through the creation of a GeoGraph – a privacy-centric data layer that enables our clients to effectively use their data across all media, without ever having to share personal details or IDs – as all media can be planned and bought using Geo – a universal data currency. Our proactive approach has led to significant outcomes, including a 29% sales increase for principal client, showcasing GeoGraph’s ability to turn industry challenges into opportunities for growth.

In the post-cookie world, blending first-party data, context, geolocation, and AI will be key to brand growth, ensuring ethical data use and building consumer trust while delivering breakthrough experiences.