As marketers everywhere heard the news that Google was sunsetting third-party cookies in late 2023, we asked ourselves, “How will we measure attribution in a cookieless future?”

Historically, marketing value has been tough to track. The advent of cookies and behavioral signals finally gave the industry a firm way to measure message impact and attributed success across multiple channels. Cookies have allowed marketers to personalize user experiences, recommend products, and increase sales, but a global emphasis on privacy and security means behavioral tracking as we know it is changing.

Removing Cookies Affects a Majority of Internet Users

The majority of internet users are on Chrome — 68.1% on desktop and 61.5% on mobile. This is why Google’s decision to double down on user privacy was met with panic across ad tech. However, Tech giants like Apple and Facebook (or Meta) are also strengthening the walls around their user data. This offers marketers a true glimpse into a very private future internet landscape. Meta even provides a specific glimpse into its privacy progress report in a constantly updated platform.

Cookies allow brands to track at scale, while historical measurement tools inherently offer smaller, user-based audiences. The end of widespread, third-party tracking lets brands realign with their traditional positioning and value.

Establishing Brand Positioning and Value in a Cookieless Future

For years, marketers have relied on third-party cookie data to tell them who their audience is — from ages to locations. Gone were the days of focus groups, one on one interviews, and benchmark studies. Suddenly, we had more data at our fingertips than we ever could have dreamed of.

As Al Ries and Jack Trout’s classic marketing text Positioning, the Battle for your Mind explains, brand positioning is the place it occupies in the prospect’s mind. With the retirement of cookies, it begs the question: Did we ever need all of this data to tell us who our customers are? Is it sufficient and even more authentic to simply know audience size and that the product is loved? Can we not simply build brand positioning as we once did?

The Future of Attribution in a More Private World

Looking to a cookieless future, experts encourage a shift to a wider range of data sources and technology to discover consumer interests and maintain cost-effectiveness, according to Marketing Week.

Dstillery’s ID-free Custom AI™️ solution is designed to do just that. With our privacy-by-design behavioral targeting solution, the sunset of cookies becomes less frightening and more of an opportunity to innovate.

As marketers are challenged over the next few years to shift their attribution models, we’ll all be challenged to polish up KPIs and brand measurement standards. We must continue revamping our strategies for a privacy-centric world.