Since 2020, the world of advertising has been preparing itself for the apocalypse of cookies. Changes brought to the infrastructure of data have been aimed at protecting the identity of Web users by blocking access to certain information that was previously open to advertisers. And in the last four years, the rules have (obviously) continued to change.
Here’s a timeline of key events:
- 2020: Chrome, Safari and Mozilla announced a gradual elimination of cookies on their browsers. In the same year, Safari and Mozilla blocked access to cookies by third parties, while Chrome envisaged spreading this out over two years.
- 2021: Apple deployed its app tracking transparency (ATT) policy, which allowed Web users to block access to cookies by third parties on its apps. Google perfected its Privacy Sandbox, an initiative that would divide Web users into different segments, thereby putting the brakes on personal identification of Web users.
- 2022: The beginning of the application of Law 25 in Quebec, affecting the majority of cookies, analytic data and advertising data on 2023 and 2024 websites.
- 2024: The end of support of access to third-party cookies by Chrome, four years later than Safari and Mozilla.
- 2024… : The end of access to third-party cookies.
From the beginning of online advertising, advertisers have tried to find solutions that minimize the impact on performance and the measurement of their campaigns. The effects would be felt on retargeting, the evaluation of reach and frequency, and attribution between different platforms. Fortunately, what could have become a cookie-gate, blocking access overnight, eventually turned into a more gradual erosion. By doing so, GAFA (Google, Apple, Facebook and Amazon) and agencies had time to think about things and put in place some solutions.
In light of these changes, one of the main trends we observed was the consolidation of silos by media that wanted to protect proprietary data on their platforms, as well as maximize their utilization to increase pertinence, extrapolation and volume. We’re also referring to GAFA’s famous walled gardens, as well as to certain major local players; it’s a race for proprietary data and log-ins, allowing for the collection of more reliable and precise information.
The second trend we observed is the generation and maintenance of proprietary data. How? By working in tandem with one’s IT team to maximize the list of emails and other client data, and by creating acquisition campaigns – in short, by profiting from data that has already been collected and by ensuring that it is nourished and enriched. The idea is to develop a certain autonomy when it comes to targeting. For the collection, and then the organization of data, more and more advertisers are turning to CDP (customer data platform) technologies, to Reverse ETL and Data clean rooms, allowing them to automate the management of segments and to facilitate integration into delivery platforms. In Quebec, the use of local technological players such as Optable will certainly rise, because it allows for the secure crossing of data for one advertiser and one media, in order to efficiently retarget CRM (Customer Relationship Management) lists, without compromising the security of this data.
Another practice that’s becoming increasingly popular: identity resolution of advertising platforms. By this name (that’s often improperly used), we refer to procedures that allow the linking of proprietary data (for example, the email address of a client who had recently been converted on a website) to platforms, those related to advertising in particular. By doing this, the establishment of a correlation – for example between an advertising impression and a conversion – is facilitated. A reconciliation between email addresses and device IDs is made possible by API connections, from client CRMs towards the platform in question.
Finally, it is now common practice to equip ourselves with a probabilistic model (Marketing Mix Modeling, or MMM). Many partners are working to develop solutions using their proprietary data to establish the ideal MMM. The objective: using the data to develop a multichannel media approach that is inferred from statistics. Equipping ourselves in this way with an analysis system is a little like recognizing that impact marketing goes beyond a directly correlated attribution (even with cookies). And since multiple partners have already been offering solutions like this, it’s our belief that, in the years to come (and perhaps in the months to come), we’ll see more and more integrated statistical solutions serving brands; let’s note among others new attribution models from Google Analytics 4.
The gradual erosion of cookies, in contrast to the apprehension created by the prospect of their sudden disappearance, has allowed us to closely observe the evolution of the situation and adapt ourselves, month after month. And if the idea of the death of third-party cookies inspired a feeling of horror in the minds of most marketers, we can now begin to relax: the big data players are on the case. In the future, we will certainly be provided with alternative solutions. It’s enough, for the moment, to take a step backwards and see data as we always have – as an infinite source of knowledge just waiting to be decrypted.