Solving for the death of the cookie

Without cookie-based targeting, advertisers enter a new era of digital ad tracking.
10 February 2021
Demise of third party cookies
Kate Ginsburg

Vice President of Media and Content Marketing

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The impending inability to track and target digital media via third-party cookies – which currently perform vital roles for advertisers and digital media owners – will disrupt the industry. As the demise of third-party cookies looms, due primarily to privacy and regulatory concerns, it’s clear that the impact on measuring ad effectiveness, and a reduction in granular targeting, is not yet fully understood. And there’s no simple alternative.

Behind the scenes, the impending deprecation of third party cookies – due to privacy and regulatory concerns – means that advertisers will need to understand the dramatic upcoming shifts in targeting and campaign effectiveness measurement. Google’s Chrome browser is phasing out cookies over the next 18 months, and Apple will only allow access to consented users’ IDFAs (Identity for Advertisers) from early 2021. These add up to big changes in the ways in which the industry can track ad exposure and target digital advertising.

Kantar’s recent Media Reactions research shows that nearly two thirds of media owners and publishers are worried about the impact of a cookieless world. But less than half say their companies are preparing for the end of cookie-based targeting. Alongside these background changes, digital ad spend – especially online video – has grown this year. Our research also shows that online video’s prominence is gaining ground; it’s forecast to be the top growth format in 2021, according to global marketers. However, the changes to cookies make digital advertising targeting and effectiveness measurement harder to do without foresight and planning.

A new world of cookieless tracking in digital

In 2021, we predict a move into a new, hybrid world of ad effectiveness measurement leveraging cookieless tracking for digital. Without this, advertisers will only have a partial view of their campaigns. Direct integrations with publishers can gather deterministic exposure data on permissioned panelists in an anonymized and privacy-compliant way where possible. But where publishers aren’t ready, validated probabilistic and analytics-based modelling at scale will fill in the gaps. Leveraging both in a hybrid capacity yields a sturdier foundation for a reliable and cost-effective way to capture a complete and more accurate picture of campaign performance and a deeper well for divining useful insights.

Editor's note: Project Moonshot is Kantar’s new global direct integrations initiative, powering our Brand Lift Insights digital campaign effectiveness offer. We’re working closely with many major publishers, including Google, Roku, Pandora and Anzu, and aim to achieve direct integrations with more than 250 digital media platforms globally by the end of 2021. We can match ad exposure to panels in a consented and privacy-compliant way, and our fully validated analytics-based modelling will enable the most complete campaign-effectiveness picture possible. Watch out for new partnerships being announced soon.

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