How marketers can leverage online panel with the demise of the third-party cookie

With the imminent demise of the third-party cookie, learn how you can use panel and first-party data to build, measure and validate audiences.
02 February 2022
first party data, audience data
marc ryan

Chief Data Officer, Profiles Division

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It’s been something of an unwritten agreement on the world wide web. Online users get to consume free website content, but agree to give up data about their behaviour in exchange. Advertisers use this data to track consumers and market to them.

It all happens with third-party cookies that allow marketers to track users as they engage online. Now, that’s changing.

The concept of online panel research

In data and evidence-based practice, online panel research serves as a fundamental tool for collecting invaluable insights, leading to actionable recommendations for clients. This method involves gathering data from a pre-established group of individuals who have voluntarily agreed to engage in surveys, discussions, or other research activities conducted online.

Through the use of online panel research, access to a wide range of participants, each representing various demographics, interests, and behaviors, becomes possible. This practice facilitates the collection of comprehensive and reliable data, essential for robust analysis and informed decision-making. By employing carefully designed surveys and specific queries, significant information about consumer preferences, viewpoints, and behaviors is gleaned. This helps in understanding market trends, pinpointing customer requirements, and assessing the efficiency of marketing techniques.

The insights obtained from online panel research offer the basis for evidence-based recommendations, fostering informed decision-making for clients. The data analysis reveals crucial patterns, trends, and correlations that inform the development of strategies aligned with the unique goals and target audiences of the clients. The commitment to leveraging online panel research ensures the delivery of precise, current, and actionable insights. This, in turn, empowers clients to make decisions backed by data, enhance customer engagement, and stimulate sustainable growth in their respective sectors.

Benefits of online panel research

Enhanced audience targeting

One of the significant advantages of online panel research is the ability to target specific audiences accurately. Businesses can select panel members based on demographic criteria such as age, gender, location, or interests, ensuring that the data collected is relevant to their research objectives. This targeted approach enhances the accuracy and reliability of the insights obtained.


Compared to traditional market research methods, such as telephone or in-person surveys, online panel research offers significant cost advantages. Conducting surveys online eliminates expenses associated with travel, venue rental, and interviewer fees. Additionally, it allows for efficient data collection, reducing overall research costs.

Time efficiency

Online panel research enables businesses to collect data rapidly and efficiently. Surveys can be distributed to panel members with just a few clicks, and responses can be collected in real-time. This efficiency enables businesses to obtain timely insights and make informed decisions quickly.

Why Google is deprecating third-party cookies

Safari and Firefox browsers already block cookies by default, but when Google announced it would also remove them in Chrome – the world’s most popular browser – it accelerated the demise of third-party cookies. Citing concerns over user privacy and cross-browser tracking, Google originally announced the deprecation of cookies in 2022, but has since delayed the end date until sometime in 2023.

For marketers, this means they can no longer rely on third-party cookies to target consumers with ads based on their online behaviour. It also dramatically increases the importance of panels and first-party data.

How online panel research and first-party data help

Panels and first-party, permission-based sources can be used for brand tracking, campaign effectiveness research, ad tracking, and targeting.

Data freely provided by panellists, such as profiling data, can also create a competitive advantage in the ad space. It can be leveraged by marketers to create custom audiences or cohorts. Furthermore, those audiences or cohorts built through survey results can be validated though panels as well.

Leveraging first-party data

First-party data provides permissioned insights into your users, which you can use to create a more personalised experience. When you identify patterns and behaviours, you can also use this data to improve performance and enhance conversions.

An online research panel is great for gathering first-party data about your consumers. Digital surveys are a quick and cost-effective strategy to look more deeply into consumer insights and go beyond the information you already capture. For example, you can measure buyer intent and consumer attitudes, and track sentiment and motivation along with behaviour.

The Kantar Data Strategies for Brand Growth report also demonstrates the need to go beyond first-party data to gain insight into consumers. In a survey of nearly 700 advertising executives globally, 81% of advertisers surveyed believe their brands should also include the use of third-party, trusted data sources to enrich understanding and remove data blind spots.

“We need to be bolder, more aggressive with how we use the right mix of data to fuel brand growth strategies,” said Benjamin Jankowski, Senior Vice President, Media, Mastercard. “We need a complete view of brand performance, leveraging competitive intelligence and other directional data sources better to illuminate insights and inform better marketing strategies.”

Panels provide permissioned, first-party data to help create deeper insight into audiences. At Kantar, profiling information is collected at registration as users actively sign up to take part in the research. We can build representative samples that match your target audience, so you can probe more deeply. With access to more than 150 million global panellists and 2 billion data points, we can access information about habits, characteristics, and behaviours.

Best Practices for Conducting Online Panel Research

To maximise the effectiveness of online panel research, it is essential to follow best practices throughout the research process. Here are some key considerations:

Clearly define research objectives

Before embarking on an online panel research project, it is crucial to clearly define the research objectives. By establishing specific goals and hypotheses, researchers can design surveys that align with their intended outcomes and ensure the collected data provides actionable insights.

Ensure representative sample

To obtain accurate and reliable insights, it is essential to ensure that the online panel represents the target population or market segment accurately. This involves considering demographic factors such as age, gender, ethnicity, and geographic location. A representative sample helps minimise bias and improves the generalisability of the research findings.

Design effective surveys

Crafting well-designed surveys is crucial for obtaining high-quality data. Surveys should be structured logically, using clear and concise language. Utilising skip logic, randomisation, and validation checks can improve the survey experience and reduce respondent fatigue.

Minimise bias and error

To maintain data integrity, researchers must be vigilant in minimising bias and error. This includes avoiding leading or loaded questions, conducting pre-testing of surveys, and employing appropriate sampling techniques. By addressing potential sources of bias and error, the reliability and validity of research findings can be enhanced.

Maintain panel engagement

Keeping panel members engaged is crucial for the success of online panel research. Offering incentives, personalised communication, and timely feedback can help maintain panelist motivation and reduce attrition rates. Regularly updating the panel with relevant research findings can also foster a sense of community and enhance engagement.

Ethical considerations

Respecting ethical guidelines is paramount when conducting online panel research. Researchers must obtain informed consent from panel members, protect their privacy and confidentiality, and ensure the data collected is used for legitimate research purposes only. Adhering to ethical standards builds trust with panel members and maintains the integrity of the research process.

How first-party CRM data and panel data works together

Marketers say that one of their biggest challenges in their planning and advertising is profiling consumers across multiple touchpoints. Third-party cookies helped track consumers across touchpoints online, but with the demise of the cookie, that’s changing. As many as 60% of marketers in the Kantar survey say they expect to enhance first-party data sets with data from other sources, such as third-party connected data sources.

By connecting first-party (compliant) data sources such as panels and your owned CRM database, you get a more holistic picture of your target consumer’s online behaviour. Matching survey-based research with your first-party data allows you to target prospects and customers better. You can better segment consumers and create more personalised experiences and focus your advertising.

You can also leverage this larger data pool to:

  • Find new customers using first-party data profiles
  • Enrich your data to gain new insights
  • Find new consumer segments to target
  • Marry first-party data with purchase intent
  • Optimise your media planning and marketing
  • Validate your audiences

Combining your owned data and research with first-party panel data, you can build a 360-degree view of consumers and target larger groups with specific attributes to improve performance.

The demise of the cookie takes away one weapon from the marketing arsenal at the same time that nearly 60% of global advertising executives in the Kantar survey say data insights will become even more important. Moving forward, however, first-party data, panels, and third-party data sources can provide the data you need to optimise your marketing.

Kantar research surveyed 672 advertising executives from 39 countries, who account for $423 billion in global advertising spend.

Learn more

Want to learn more? Speak to our expert team today to learn how you can leverage compliant, first-party data, online panel data, and our proprietary third-party data.

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