The New Cookie Monsters Are Destroying Your Metrics: Forbes

Forbes Communications Council has released an updated state of the tracking pixel, and it’s not looking good for the good old Cookie.

One of the grand advantages of online marketing used to be our ability to measure practically everything. But with stricter privacy controls and ever growing cookie-blocking techniques, we will soon only be left with the crumbs of data compared to what we used to get from browser cookies.

In Forbes’ recent report, they look at the ever growing challenge for brands on how to ensure that they capture every sale and continue to have essential campaign information and data? The most important step, according to their report, is to stop relying on browsers as a central component of our data delivery mechanisms.

Part of this is our own fault. We, as marketers, have become too heavily reliant on a tiny 1×1 pixel spec of code to tell provide some very important data on campaign performance, and that entire process is beginning to crumble. We’ve known for a long time this is coming, so there’s no point in crying over spilled milk.

Our beloved tracking cookies are being eaten! 

Since they were first developed, tracking cookies have faced an increasing number of challenges that impede their ability to collect complete and accurate data. Here are just a handful of the threats that have emerged, chipping away at their ability to capture information.

• Cookie deletion: This is when people proactively clear cookies or use incognito windows to avoid interest-based targeting and tracking. This process, however, was just arduous enough that typical users did not take these steps on a regular-enough basis to cause a significant loss of tracking.

• Cookie blocking: So that customers didn’t have to bother clearing their cookies, tools were created so that they could simply turn on blockers that stopped third-party cookies and ads, or – at least – would allow users to adjust their personalized settings to limit ad tracking.

• Default / Built-in ad blockers: Several of the smaller market share browsers have added cookie blockers built right into the browser, which automatically block tracking cookies.

• Regional changes: In Europe, among other regions, websites must clearly and conspicuously disclose cookie-based tracking and offer consumers a choice to agree to or opt out of it. The United States has also started to implement programs that permit consumers to opt out of behavior-based tracking. These changes deliver a much greater range of choice to the user, but they also weaken the digital advertisers ability to measure and attribute revenue correctly.

• Mobile growth: As mobile has grown in usage, the power of the cookie has diminished. Beyond cross-device behavior, cookies themselves are problematic for tracking on mobile, especially on iOS (with a 35% share of the U.S. market) and within apps (which take up more than 80% of our mobile-connected time).

More recently, something called ITP, or Intelligent Tracking Prevention, was introduced as a new feature for iOS 11 and Safari 11. ITP is intended to limit the ability of third parties to track users across domains.

And that’s just the beginning… According the release, there are more threats on the way. Read the full article from Forbes >>>

For marketers, this leads to two important questions:

What other tools can we use in order to fill the measurement gaps left behind by the disappearing cookie?

If we no longer have the cookie to rely on, what other tracking mechanisms (such as API-based integrations) can provide us with the level of data that we need in order to gauge the return on ad spend of our various online programs?

Are our online marketing campaigns purely reliant on immediate results to create value for the business?

If you could not immediately and directly tie revenue to the program you are running, would you still run it? For some programs, this is an obvious yes or no answer, for others it might require some additional analysis and debate that has been missing in the online marketing space BECAUSE things are too easily measured.

This is when you need to look at the overall brand value of a campaign, it’s ability to increase company or product awareness, the lifetime value of a customer and how repeated touch-points help to keep your brand top of mind.

In the traditional / direct marketing world, there is always that “softer” side of marketing that provided a longer/broader/wider benefit to the business.

So, perhaps, as we start to lose SOME of our ability to measure and judge campaign performance, it’s time to brush off some of the tried and true methods that helped build most of the successes we see in the market today.

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