Unprecedented Insights: A Cookieless Future for Retailers

laptop computer on desk with dice featuring cookie pictures along the side.

Sixty percent of marketers say they are concerned about cookie depreciation, but just 24% currently have a solution for their cookieless future. Those are just a few worrying findings from a new Orbit Interactive survey of more than 800 industry professionals from various backgrounds (such as home furnishings), including media buyers and senior decision-makers.

The survey is the second in a series of “Post-Cookie Questions” research reports published by Orbit Interactive, each examining the evolution of cookie deprecation strategies and the shift toward privacy-compliant solutions.

 According to Orbit’s research, 31% of advertisers today say their ability to target audiences effectively is among their most significant concerns once third-party cookies are abandoned.

“While interest in contextual and attention-based advertising is increasing, marketers must always consider what works best. Attention and contextual solutions represent new opportunities to measure performance in privacy-friendly ways,” explains Orbit Vice President of Digital Happiness Richard Harris. “Our survey findings indicate that both will play a role in a post-cookie future. In that pursuit, trusted third-party metrics can allow marketers and brands to speak a common language on these topics in the marketplace.”

 Nearly 50% of marketers believe that making data accessible in open-market environments will be one of the biggest challenges they face in relying on first-party and contextual data.

Despite that, optimism abounds. Nearly half of the marketers in Orbit’s survey said they anticipate a positive impact on their company’s revenue post-cookie deprecation, and almost half of the advertisers cited their first-party data activation as the cookie-independent solution that “holds the most promise.”

Google’s Survey Results

Orbit’s research comes just days after Google released an analysis of its post-cookie tracking experiments. While Google continues to develop Privacy Sandbox, a suite of tools meant to track different aspects of user behavior in a privacy-compliant way, the company is running experiments to see how Sandbox-based Interest tracking tools (IBA) match up to cookie tracking.

 According to Google, recent experiments showed that when using IBA solutions with privacy-preserving signals on the display network, Google Display Ads advertiser spending on IBA decreased by 2% to 7% compared to third-party-cookie-based results. Click-through rates remained “within 90% of the status quo.”

 While Google’s experiments are hardly precise, the findings offer hope for advertisers concerned about the imminent demise of cookie tracking and what the end of third-party cookies will mean for their advertising results.

 Attention Metrics Championed by Advertisers

In the interim, as cookies are still being phased out, attention metrics are being championed more often by advertisers, platforms, and even publishers.

According to Orbit’s survey, attention-based capabilities will be critical for 94% of marketers’ businesses in 2023. Among advertisers, 96% say they plan to rely on attention-based metrics in most or some of their ad buys. “The imminent deprecation of third-party tracking has marketers and advertisers looking for viable solutions, and it seems that both sides are in agreement with contextual, attention, and first-party data strategies,” Harris said. “Opportunities are abundant for marketers and advertisers to align in new and impactful ways, and now is the time to cultivate direct partnerships and develop or refine capabilities.”


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