Brands search for retargeting alternatives as third-party cookie demise looms

Digiday 08 Apr 2021 04:01
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April 8, 2021 by Danny Parisi

This article is part of the Digiday Privacy Preview, a digital issue of stories examining what the coming changes to Chrome and iOS will do to the worlds of media and marketing. Read the rest of that coverage here.

Last year’s precipitous drop in brick-and-mortar retail sales left brands relying more than ever on digital advertising and retargeting to acquire customers. But the invasiveness of retargeting has long put consumers in a conspiratorial mood (“How the hell does my phone know I need to buy toilet paper?”). 

Now, the big platforms like Apple and Google as well as browsers like Firefox are all blocking or planning to block third-party cookies, the primary method that brands use to retarget customers. Those changes, coupled with cookie-curtailing legislation like Europe’s GDPR, mean third-party retargeting is about to get much more difficult.

That leaves brands that rely on retargeting in a bind. Without the traditional source of third-party data, brands will have to rely on alternatives like first-party data or data from retail partners. There’s also hope that Google’s alternatives to cookies will help pick up the slack, but there aren’t many details yet on how well those options will work. Right now, everyone is just trying to get their bearings, buyers told Digiday.

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