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Measuring ad effectiveness in a world without cookies

Vin DeRobertis Americas CEO 2 March 2020

A revolution is underway in the digital advertising world: the abolishment of third-party cookies - the very tools which have allowed the web to deliver and measure ad performance in the first place.

The result will be an undoubtedly drastic shift in how the digital industry interacts with day-to-day web users"

Since new measures such as the California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA) and General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the EU were announced, people have become more aware of the value their data holds, as well as their rights to own and protect how it is used and stored.

With increased focus on user autonomy and privacy, large internet browsers have worked to diminish third-party cookies; this is a move which has split opinion, depending on which side of the web you’re on.  Earlier this year, tech giant Google announced it will be rendering cookies obsolete in a plan that will phase out cookies in Chrome browser within two years. The result will be an undoubtedly drastic shift in how the digital industry interacts with day-to-day web users. Advertisers, publishers and agencies must begin to re-think how they develop and monitor their ad strategies if they are to survive in this new ad ecosystem.

For day-to-day users, this is a positive step forward in terms of data privacy.  Users will be granted more control over their browsing data, meaning increased transparency over who sees and uses their personal data

While this development benefits the user, it has caused several issues for advertisers and publishers, not least because this is the very foundation that allows advertisers the ability to deliver and measure ad performance in the first place.  Brands slow to act will quickly be left in the dark, especially when it comes to knowing how their digital ads impact brand uplift – a critical measure for proving ROI.

The move to a ‘cookie-less’ world means publishers are unable to promote content which is personalized to the individual. Without cookie matching (the exchange of a user’s online information between ad tech firms) the entire programmatic ad serving system fails. The exchange of user information between the publisher and advertiser cannot be made if there is no user information in the first place. Therefore, the ad space cannot be filled; or rather it can, albeit with less personalized content. What’s more, Ad Performance Measurement has relied on cookie tracking to measure brand lift among those exposed to the campaign. Without cookies, advertisers, publishers and agencies are left scrambling for an alternative methodology to measure campaign impact.

What does the future hold for your brand?

Google is currently working on solutions to support advertising in a ‘cookie-less world’, e.g. Google’s Privacy Sandbox, which aims to create a fair web ecosystem by limiting the pervasiveness of cross-site tracking for users but while enabling personalized advertising (to an extent).

In short, Google aims to give users confidence that their browser is working to protect their data and, as such, only gives ad tech firms grouped or aggregated-level data which is non-distinguishable at an individual level. In addition, users can choose whether they wish to turn off personalized advertising without impacting their general web experience.

Whether or not a middle-ground can be found, one thing is for sure – advertisers must find new ways of connecting with their audience without the use of cookies.

Savanta has developed a solution (our Digital Ad Performance tool) which helps brands get the most out of their digital marketing activities without cookies, paid impressions, or the respondent knowing they are evaluating an ad. Our Digital Ad Performance tool can take your target audience through a simulated online or mobile web experience, allowing you to gain insights on how effective the ads and media platforms are for your brand.

These quick tests will help you gain an early campaign read without paid impressions, while providing a great user experience for respondents so you can feel confident in the data and  make quick decisions around your digital campaign.

Insights from these tests will help you focus your digital media spend, find out how your creative will be viewed across platforms, and provide understanding of creative concepts’ impact on your brand.

*If you want to find out more, please get in contact via our Digital Ad Performance form. 

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