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Cookies Are Out, APIs Are in: The Major Sources of Ad Data in a Post-Cookie World

The following is a guest post by e-Comas.

Cookies, the digital data-gatherers that for years have been the building blocks of advertising online, are on the way out.

Third-party advertising cookies simply aren’t what they once were. Their MO of tracking users across websites is a privacy issue, and with cookie blockers used widely across the web, the data they provide isn’t as reliable as it once was.

Apple has already phased out third-party cookies across its products and platforms.

Google is set to follow, having first vowed to phase out cookies on Chrome browsers in 2020. More recently it has said it will be 2024 at the earliest.

The delay makes sense: While Google has promised new tracking technology instead, cookies are what digital advertising is built on.

But what does the alternative even look like?

We see the mega-platforms making a serious play for digital space, and we can look to Amazon, and its new Amazon Marketing Cloud, for an idea of how that will look.

Native eCommerce is the Key

Without cookies, the best customer data will come from single platforms. The bigger that platform is, the more data it can collect and deliver back to advertisers.

Amazon, for example, can track a customer through the likes of Prime Video, Prime Music, Kindle and Alexa through a single log-in.

Apple can do the same thing through Safari, Apple TV+, Apple Music, Apple Home; Google can do the same through Google Search, YouTube, Gmail; and Meta through Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp.

With no cookies, these native eCommerce platforms will be the main source of audience data for digital advertisers.

We’ll use Amazon as an example. Its promised Amazon Marketing Cloud is set to give brands unprecedented access to data on customer habits and allow hyper-specific targeting – almost to the point of advertising utopia. This is how brands will find out who their customers are in the post-cookie world.

What AMC Looks Like

Amazon Marketing Cloud is, in Amazon’s words, a ‘data clean room solution’. It promises to allow sellers to measure sales across all platforms, on and off Amazon.

It will allow advertisers to perform analytics across Amazon Ads data as well as their own datasets from other sources.

They’ll get a full picture of customers’ journeys through the marketing funnel, thanks to intent data not previously available: such as ‘consideration period’ metrics, allowing them to target audiences who are specifically in the buying window.

AMC will be available through API, so advertisers can choose the data they want to use.

Amazon emphasizes its privacy-safe credentials: all audience data is aggregated and pseudonymized, so individual users cannot be identified.

As well as being bulletproof in terms of privacy, AMC will offer unprecedented levels of audience targeting. We’ve seen how we can use AMC to target users through the marketing funnel: seeing when a certain demographic is underperforming, what combinations of ad products users responded best to, and the effect of a user seeing an ad multiple times.

We can even see which branded keywords customers search for after seeing an ad.

API is the Answer

Overall, AMC helps you target your campaigns according to when your customers are most likely looking to buy, so it’s hugely effective.

But it will do more than that: in a cookie-less world, it will be one of the major sources of customer data for marketers.

The other huge platforms – Google, Meta, Apple – will also continue to make more specific data available, and we suspect AMC will be emulated by them.

Instead of building an alternative to cookies that works in a similar way to cookies, tracking users across different websites, Google has promised an API-driven solution.

“Our web products will be powered by privacy-preserving APIs which prevent individual tracking while still delivering results for advertisers and publishers,” it says.

The Golden Age of Advertising Dawns

“The road you’re on, John Anderton, is the one less traveled…”

That’s a Lexus advert talking to Tom Cruise’s character in Minority Report. It’s a dystopian film, but this scene has stood out for 20 years as the marketer’s El Dorado, and it’s almost here thanks to powerful audience data – without the need for any eye-scanning.

The native eCommerce sphere is huge and exciting, and we mostly see positives: more efficient, targeted advertising, better conversion rates, and a better customer experience

We expect Google and Meta to follow suit in making more targeted audience data available to marketers. While Apple is rumored to be building its own demand-side platform to leverage its masses of user data: it was recruiting for a DSP specialist in the summer.

And we wouldn’t be at all surprised to see more social media platforms bought by the big players.

AMC and similar solutions will allow more accurate audience targeting than ever.

But they will give a massive advantage to those enormous media/shopping platforms like Amazon, Apple, and Google.

We always stress to brands that have a decent presence on Amazon are critical to ensuring potential customers don’t miss you in their online searches: that’s likely to become even more true.

If you’re on Amazon you can leverage the data and make sure customers find you.

Need help? Contact the e-Comas team of experts to make the most of your Amazon presence.


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