A 3 part series: A guide to tackle 3rd party cookie deprecation holistically.

Updated: Nov 24, 2021

There is so much written about the death of the 3rd party cookie and yet many brands are still struggling to piece together what needs to be done to address the challenge and drive the change.


According to a recent global study by Adobe only 37% of companies are ‘very prepared’ for a cookie-less future. And if you think that your agency or technology provider will come to the rescue and help you address the challenge 6 months out – think again. We have spoken to a number of agencies and vendors over the past few months to get their thoughts and insights on the topic and what has become abundantly clear is many don’t have the knowledge or expertise to effectively support brands and organisations on the journey. Worst still, many are trying to address the problem through a narrow lens based on the scope of their remit or the solutions they sell, with the belief that doing one or two things will solve the problem.


In this 3-part series, we will unpack the issues and share a more holistic approach to tackling the 3rd party cookie deprecation based on the approach we are taking with our clients.


At its core – this is a capability challenge

One of the biggest challenges brands and marketing teams face when it comes to third party cookie deprecation is themselves. Over a long period of time, brands have outsourced much of their thinking to agencies and relied heavily on 3rd party data sources to drive targeting and activation. Whilst there are some brands and teams who are effectively equipped to navigate the change, the majority will find themselves attempting to make the change whilst also building internal capability. At the heart of the transition is the need for brands to more effectively utilise data and technology, which is expertise many teams just don’t have. According to our Marketing State of Play study conducted in 2021, two thirds of marketing and digital leaders state that data literacy is not strong within their teams and 4 in 10 stated the same about digital marketing. These gaps in skills within key business functions will test brands ability to navigate the change.


A holistic approach is needed to adapt

It is said that a little knowledge is a dangerous thing and this isn’t more true than it is when it comes to adapting in the face of change bought on by 3rd party cookie deprecation. Much is written about the importance of 1st party data in a world where 3rd party cookies are deprecated – but don't be mistaken to believe that building a 1st party data strategy is all you need to do to adapt. Building a robust 1st party data asset is a critical component and a vital foundational element of any strategy, but to effectively prepare for the change, brands need to be thinking about an array of other components outlined in our proprietary built model. A robust strategy to adapt will not only seek to address 1st party data, but also consider:

  1. how a brands media strategy will need to evolve

  2. whether or not data partnerships play a role moving forward

  3. the impact on measurement and attribution

  4. data sharing and identify management

All of this is also underpinned by having the right marTech and adtech stack in place. Giving consideration to privacy and consent practices is also a must as brands look to bolster 1st party data acquisition given the evolving privacy landscape within Australia.


For brands serious about adapting, a more holistic approach is required to adequately evolve. In part 2 and 3 of this series we will break down the various components of the model to help you think more deeply about what a cookie-less future means for your business and brand.

Preparing for the change

Knowing and acknowledging the task ahead and what it involves is the first important step - but how you navigate the change is what will matter most. Those brands that are succeeding in their endeavours to adapt have a number of things in common:


  1. They are adapting early In a world where 1st party data is becoming increasingly important, and privacy and consent practices are evolving rapidly, brands will need to embed new platforms to build and manage data assets. Brands who have begun this journey are in a fortunate position, whereas those who are yet to do so face an uphill battle in a cookie-less world. It is for this reason and others (like the size and scale of the task to evolve) that brands must begin to evolve early. In fact, if you are yet to start its safe to say you are already behind.

  2. They see cookie deprecation as an organisational issue and priority To adapt and evolve will require involvement from IT, marketing, finance and more. Organisations who position 3rd party cookie deprecation as a strategic priority are more likely to succeed, because: 1. Teams are afforded the time and space to drive the change and implement key initiatives 2. Teams are more likely to collaborate and work cross-functionally given its strategic importance of the initiative. 3. Teams are provided the resources (financial and people) to enable the change.

  3. They embrace the ambiguity The industry is effectively grappling with undoing what it has built over 20+ years - and this doesn’t happen overnight. Whilst many seek certainty, many of the solutions to address measurement challenges stitch together data to connect experiences, and others are still in the work. This means we need to embrace the ambiguity, work with what we know today, and adapt on the basis of what we learn along the journey.

  4. They are prepared to test and experiment Pivoting your strategy to embrace new approaches is paramount. What works for one brand or organisation won’t necessarily work for another. Navigating a change like this requires brands to keep an open mind, test (knowing that some things won’t work), and continuously adapt as new information and solutions come to the forefront.

  5. They are bringing their partners on the journey To build for a cookie-less future will not require one partner, but the need to lean on many. Brands need to provide leadership and direction and bring partners around them to navigate the change, challenge their thinking, and bring best practice approaches to the table. Establishing a working group made up of internal and partner resources can ensure all parties are working towards common outcomes and provide diversity of thought around the table.

Need help to build out a robust plan so your brand is prepared for cookie-less future? Talk to us to find out how we are helping leading brands build a holistic plan and clear path forward.

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