Today’s media consumer is more connected than ever. By 2025, US adults will spend nearly eight hours a day engaged with digital content channels in one form or another — nearly double their time spent with traditional media not connected to the internet.
This shift in media consumption habits isn’t just notable for the ways it’s reshaping how the broader US population engages with news, entertainment and social activities. The move to digital channels also provides advertisers with more data about their audiences and more addressable opportunities to reach them with relevant, personalized messages.
This becomes even more powerful when advertisers can coordinate these signals and messages across channels, delivering a cohesive experience no matter where the consumer engages with their media channels of choice. But effectively executing an omnichannel strategy is often easier said than done. With walled gardens continuing to spring up and the future of legacy identifiers still an open question, creating a unified view of customers means connecting signals across a heavily fragmented media landscape.
To unlock the true promise of omnichannel marketing, advertisers need tools to help them stay ahead of the forces of signal loss and fragmentation — tools like robust, forward-looking identity solutions.
After a series of starts, stops and delays, it looks like 2024 is the year Google finally begins deprecating the third-party cookie. On January 4, third-party cookies were switched off for 1% of Chrome users with a plan to broaden this to 100% of users by Q3.
For a marketing industry that’s been heavily reliant on third-party cookies for the better part of a decade, this is a paradigm shift in the ways advertisers will be able to target, track and measure across channels. This kind of change is naturally leading to uncertainty in the digital marketing space. In a recent Adweek webinar sponsored by TransUnion and featuring senior leaders from across the marketing ecosystem, Canvas Worldwide Chief Product Officer Greg Johns summed it up like this:
“One of the major themes for 2024 is going to be ‘Can we still do that?’” Johns said. “There are major concerns over what’s really going to happen when we lose more identifiers in this space. The fact of the matter is we’re really not going to know what happens when cookies go away until Google shuts off the tap.”
But while third-party cookie deprecation has much of the marketing world anxious, it’s a different story on the supply side of the media space. Channels like CTV, digital audio, gaming and digital out-of-home never relied on cookies in the first place, meaning they’re largely insulated from this change. Rather than relying on third-party cookies like traditional web browsers, these connected media channels exist in cookie-free environments — instead relying on device IDs, IP addresses, and other signals.
By taking these signals and resolving them to a unified, robust identity graph, connected media advertisers are already accomplishing what the cookie historically did: connecting digital activity to a particular user or household. And because these signals are closer to an actual individual than a browser-based cookie, identity-powered advertising is more personalized and accurate.
Third-party cookie deprecation will only have an impact on advertisers still stuck in the past. For those that have already embraced growing connected media campaigns and the identity that powers them, the cookie is already long past stale.
While third-party cookie deprecation is one of the biggest stories this year, continued shifts in consumer channel adoption will arguably have a bigger impact on media advertisers in 2024.
With time spent with traditional media on the decline, consumers are engaging online more than ever before. And with the proliferation of channels brought on by the streaming revolution, now consumers also have more options. In 2023, the average US household was subscribed to four SVOD services, representing a significant amount of broadly dispersed activity even before including other forms of streaming video (like AVOD or FAST) or entirely separate digital channels (like audio or gaming).
But while the proliferation of new media channels has created a glut of newly available avenues for reaching connected consumers, it can also be something of a double-edged sword for advertisers. With consumer media consumption less concentrated, advertisers face a significant challenge in creating a single view of their target audiences across all those touchpoints. Consumers aren’t just engaging with a single platform, channel or service; in a given day, they may listen to a podcast, watch multiple shows across various streaming providers, and play one or more mobile games on their smartphones or tablets.
“The good news is consumers are more engaged,” said David Wyler, Enterprise Account Leader at TransUnion, in the aforementioned Adweek webinar. “There are more opportunities to reach people across different platforms. But there’s also more fragmentation because there are so many different platforms.”
The solution to the fragmentation problem once again comes down to identity. By resolving audience data to a robust, scaled identity graph, advertisers can connect signals across channels and devices, filling in any gaps in understanding and building more holistic pictures of their audiences. This robust view of consumer identity ultimately powers the entire marketing flywheel, helping advertisers build more precisely targeted audience segments, reach more omnichannel consumers and deliver more relevant messages.
In this way, advanced identity solutions unlock the potential of today’s decentralized media environment, helping advertisers deliver engaging messages to their target audiences regardless of where they’re watching, listening or playing.
With the arrival of the new year, the only constant is, as always, change.
From shifting media consumption habits to the advent of new signals and identifiers, the media landscape is one in near constant flux. However, even amid all that turmoil, advertisers are still looking to do the same things they’ve always done: reach the right consumers in the right place with the right message.
With omnichannel strategies rooted in forward-looking identity solutions, advertisers can do just that. By harnessing the power of identity, advertisers are in a better position to fight the forces of signal loss and fragmentation — all while delivering better customer experiences and gaining a broader view of their target audiences… the very definition of a win-win.