Most UK marketers not ready for a cookieless future
May 13th, 2024, Hoang Nguyen

Most UK marketers not ready for a cookieless future

  • 56% of UK marketers say they are not familiar with ad targeting methods beyond third-party cookies
  • Only 20% of UK marketing teams feel prepared for a cookieless environment within the next six months
  • UK marketers want resources to navigate the upcoming shift to a cookieless future

Google initially planned to phase out third-party tracking cookies entirely by 2022 but has decided to push back the date for the third time. In the most recent delay, the tech giant states that it “will not complete third-party cookie deprecation during the second half of Q4” and that the transition from third-party cookies would proceed “starting early next year.”

While the additional time provides marketers with some breathing room, the ultimate demise of third-party cookies on Chrome seems inevitable. How will marketers adapt to a cookieless future?

To understand marketers’ current sentiment and preparedness for this transition, YouGov conducted a poll among UK marketing professionals. Below are some key takeaways from the research:

  • Reliance on third-party cookies: Over a quarter (26%) of UK marketers indicate they are very or moderately reliant on third-party cookies for ad targeting and campaign measurement.
  • Familiarity with alternative targeting methods: Over half (56%) of UK marketers say they are not familiar with any ad targeting methods that do not rely on third-party cookies. About a third (34%) of UK marketers express familiarity with at least one other targeting method such as contextual targeting or first-party data.
  • Transition timeline: The poll revealed how long marketers think it will take their organisations to prepare for a cookieless online environment. The answers varied, with a fifth (20%) saying they would be ready in less than six months while 16% think it will take between six months to a year. 15% of marketers anticipate needing more than a year and nearly half say they’re simply not sure (48%).

Marketers foresee several hurdles in the impending third-party cookie deprecation. YouGov’s poll shows that the most significant concerns are about how to reach target audiences (41%) and measure campaign effectiveness (39%) without third-party cookies. Being able to attribute conversions to specific marketing channels is another top concern among 31% of marketers, while 19% say the increased cost of advertising would be a challenge for their organisation.

And as marketers navigate the changes to user privacy and third-party tracking, they show strong interest in resources and support to ensure a smooth transition. YouGov’s research indicates a clear demand for resources to prepare for a cookieless future:

  • Best practices for data collection: With third-party cookie data becoming less available, marketers want guidance on collecting and utilising first-party data responsibly and effectively. 42% of marketers identified this as a key area where they want support.
  • Educational resources on alternative targeting methods: Equipping marketers with knowledge on alternative targeting methods is crucial. This could encompass contextual targeting and leveraging first-party data. Educational resources on these topics were sought after by 34% of those surveyed.
  • Industry benchmarks: The lack of cookies will necessitate new benchmarks for measuring campaign success. Benchmarks that reflect the cookieless environment will be essential for marketers to understand how their campaigns are performing. 31% of respondents highlighted this as a valuable resource.
  • Collaboration opportunities: The privacy-first future presents an opportunity for collaboration between advertisers and publishers. Sharing data responsibly and working together to develop new targeting solutions could be beneficial. 16% of respondents expressed a desire for such collaboration.

In conclusion, the phase-out of third-party cookies represents a significant transformation for the digital marketing industry. We’ll continue to monitor marketers’ sentiment and evolving needs as the industry moves toward a cookieless environment.

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YouGov polled 450 British adults online who self-identified as marketers between May 1-2nd, 2024. The survey was carried out through YouGov Surveys: Self-serve. Data is weighted by age, gender, education level, region, and social grade. Learn more about YouGov Surveys: Self-serve.