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Ideas Data Strategy

What will agencies do without cookies?

Eric Kirtcheff

For more than 20 years, digital data has been based on and around user cookies. Cookie-based solutions have evolved into a plethora of functions for media agencies, determining what creative message a user sees, tracking how many users bought which widgets, and even enabling messaging to customers down to people in a specific zipcode who browsed a specific pink sweater on a specific partner site on any given weekend in May.

With the usefulness of cookies and the services they enable inhibited by initiatives like GDPR and CCPA, how will agencies and advertisers achieve similar outcomes and drive results for their campaigns? Instead of reducing effectiveness, these new constraints are actually spurring innovation based in using data in new - and even some old ways - at higher granularities.

At Essence, I’m part of a cross practice team which has been focused on how regulation will impact advertisers’ ability to run high performance digital campaigns. Our team, which brings together people from across our Data Strategy, Analytics, Activation, and Ad Ops practices to address this challenge from a variety of angles, is embracing an approach that moves from a single solution, used across all channel partners, to multiple point solutions that allow us to measure campaign success within individual environments.

So how do we measure campaign results, manage frequency, and deliver reporting in a world without cookies? In analytics reporting, for example, we can tap into solutions within walled gardens that open up queryable data within those platforms’ “clean rooms” in order to glean campaign insights. For measurement, we can split panel surveys across channels with vendors like Survata, Dynata, and Nielsen. We’ve purposefully redesigned our custom survey solution, Scrutineer, to fill gaps like in-app inventory via the adserver’s native capabilities.

Frequency capping, which had been done using IDs once available in data transfer logs, can be performed in the platforms themselves. Even Dynamic Creative, a favorite solution deployed as a remarketing tool for lower funnel activity, can be repurposed into a contextual solution that still achieves similar functionality and outcomes.

While there is still much work to do as new regulation - like the CCPA - becomes a reality and a need to keep a close eye on variables like cost, bias, and reach, multi-point approaches like the ones we are pioneering at Essence, are allowing advertisers and their agencies to continue innovating around the measurement of brand and performance campaigns.