Digital Tracking & Attribution in a Cookieless World

Posted by Ben Johnsen in February, 2020

Google recently announced that it will be phasing out the use of third party cookies from their Chrome platform within the next two years. This is a significant move from the largest provider of digital advertising1 that controls the most widely used browser2. Reported in part as a move that addresses user privacy issues, it will ultimately benefit Google operationally and financially, in terms of advertising revenue and control.

For advertisers, marketers, agencies, and publishing platforms that exist outside of Google and Facebook’s massive “walled gardens,” this will present significant challenges to the current state of digital advertising. There are significant implications in areas like targeting, delivery, remarketing, and attribution. Three key factors will ultimately determine success in this new “cookieless” world: Preparedness, Strategy, and Facility.

Similar challenges began as early as 2017, when Apple’s Safari browser (second in worldwide usage3) implemented a policy to delete third party browser cookies after 24 hours. Governmental regulations like GDPR and CPPA, as well as the growth of ad blocking and tracking-consent policies have presented challenges to programmatic marketing by adding complexity to the tracking of user behaviors.

Recently, ad tech firm Flashtalking reported4 that as many as 64% of cookies are rejected, blocked, or deleted by browsers. The dominance of mobile also contributes to this issue, where tracking—particularly within apps—is much more difficult (and 90% of US mobile time spent is “in-app”, per eMarketer5).

Kiosk has already taken action to prepare for these marketplace changes. We’re fully GDPR and CCPA compliant and we’ve been reducing our reliance on cookie-based targeting through a number of digital marketing strategies. Those efforts include more focus on direct publisher deals and Private Marketplaces, “contextual” placements targeting content that is relevant to the advertisement, ABM (account based marketing) and CRM targeting, and customized persona targeting within platforms that rely on first party data (Facebook, Instagram, Google, Linkedin) where we can apply performance observations to targeting similar parameters in other platforms.

Kiosk’s proprietary pixel tracking solution, Kixel, allows for first party tracking and attribution through conversion funnels , and will not be impacted by Google’s upcoming changes.

Having a head start on the planning, application, observation, and optimization of these strategies gives us an advantage in building our team’s facility in the usage of these strategies. It also allows us to establish benchmarks and a valuable historical database to reference for research and planning.

Additional resources continue to emerge in the face of our industry’s upcoming changes. Vendors such as Bridge (LiveRamp), Infutor, and Social Code are making Identity Resolution Solutions more accessible. These services allow for enriched audience segments and look-alike targeting based on their own first party (owned) and second party (shared) data, without the need for 3rd party cookies.

In addition, more vendors are offering Consent Management Platforms to publishers and content providers, allowing visitors to accept or decline cookie-based tracking before engaging with content, furthering transparency between content suppliers and consumers.

In the mobile space, Mobile Ad ID’s (MAID’s) help combat privacy issues through the use of universal anonymous identifiers, across applications. This allows for targeting based on actual user characteristics vs. cookie-based profiles (which at times can be contradictory). And Compliant Location-Based Targeting takes opt-in location-based data to determine the likelihood of user characteristics (i.e. a device that frequents a ballpark is likely a fan of that sport or team).

As a leader in the digital marketing space, Kiosk will remain proactive in anticipating and addressing developments in industry tech and the regulatory environment, to ensure our clients are able to maximize their effectiveness in the market.

Interested in keeping your brand marketing up to date as media tracking evolves? Give Kiosk a call.

131% Global market share per Statista https://www.statista.com/statistics/193530/market-share-of-net-us-online-ad-revenues-of-google-since-2009/
264% of all usage Worldwide per gs.statcounter.com
3Browser usage, Worldwide, Jan 2020: https://gs.statcounter.com/
4https://static1.squarespace.com/static/5c17fee58ab722e19b765b9d/t/5c8e86ffc8302569d11078ce/1552844567519/Flashtalking_Cookie_Rejection_Report.pdf
5https://www.emarketer.com/content/us-time-spent-with-mobile-2019