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Navigating the Shifting Tides of Data Deprecation: Six Lessons for Marketers

Data deprecation blog

Data deprecation isn’t just a buzzword; it's a seismic shift in the marketing realm presenting both hurdles and opportunities. TransUnion’s recent webinar — Future-Proofing Your Media Plan: Addressability for Cookie Loss and Beyond — dove into these changes and how to effectively engage consumers in a post-cookie world. 

In this enlightening discussion, Sam Shapiro-Kline, Director of Product Marketing at TransUnion TruAudience® Marketing Solutions spoke with industry leaders Mike Treon, Programmatic Strategy Lead at PMG and Bruce Biegel, Senior Managing Partner at Winterberry Group. Read on for six actionable insights marketers can tap into.

1. Reconsider your cross-channel marketing mix

With the imminent deprecation of third-party cookies, it's crucial to understand its uneven impact across digital channels. The most pronounced changes are expected within programmatic display and video advertising where cookies have been the cornerstone for targeting and measuring ads

TransUnion’s Sam Shapiro-Kline highlighted, “The most substantial presence of cookies is in search, display and video, whereas in social and CTV, it’s a more inherently cookie-less environment”. Marketers should consider the effects from losing the third-party cookie in the most impacted channels and try to offset them by investing in technology partners. Testing increased investments in channels with less dependance on cookies like CTV and social can show great results.


2. Amplify the value of first-party data with lookalikes and suppression

First-party data has emerged as a pivotal asset in the cookie-less world. Embracing lookalike models from a first-party seed is a clear way to get value from even a small audience, according to Bruce Biegel from Winterberry Group who noted, “Once you have enough first-party data to start modeling against, use it as a seed audience — then you can expand.” Another important aspect mentioned by Biegel was how first-party data could be an efficiency driver, using lists of customers or recent buyers as part of suppression campaigns focused on finding new prospects.

As privacy regulations continue to evolve, having a robust, first-party data strategy will not only better ensure compliance but also drive customer loyalty, lower acquisition costs, and create a foundation for customer lifetime value.


3. Leverage a holistic toolkit to achieve addressable scale and measurement

As Shapiro-Kline advised, “There’s absolutely no silver bullet for tackling data deprecation. There are popular strategies and compelling ones… but you need to think of this map of options.” 

Marketers must diversify their approaches with a robust toolkit that includes:

  • Identity-based targeting, such as first-party data activation with identity resolution or clean rooms
  • Privacy sandbox capabilities like Google’s Protected Audiences AP
  • Programmatic IDs like TruAudience ID or UID 2.0
  • Contextual targeting
  • Marketing mix modeling (MMM) and identity-based attribution

Continuous testing and learning will be essential, as will partnerships with tech vendors committed to developing future-proof solutions.


4. Dollars follow data, which is driving the growth of retail media and CTV

The rapid ascension of retail media and CTV is reshaping the marketing landscape. Reflecting on retail media networks’ growth, Mike Treon from PMG stated, “I think those pockets aren’t just in retail media but also hospitality media. Marriott has a media network, Uber has a media network; [the focus is on] wherever there's a large pocket of first-party data.

These platforms offer a wealth of first-party data and targeted advertising opportunities, making them less vulnerable to cookie deprecation. The integration of ad tech into smart TVs and growth of media networks reflect a broader trend toward data-rich, addressable advertising environments. Marketers should look to media channels with first-party data relevant to their brands, and consider reallocating some of their budgets to these promising channels that naturally align with the movement toward more privacy-centric advertising.


5. Engage with publisher data and context to fill the gaps

The post-cookie era beckons a transition to more nuanced targeting and activation methods. The panelists acknowledged a shift toward more contextual environments which align with broader marketing trends focused on the relevance of ad placement to content rather than individual tracking. Treon explained, “We’re seeing a big shift in targeting going from a cookie to more contextual environments.” He then posed, “What does this contextual environment indicate about what that consumer is going to do next?

Probabilistic targeting, which uses algorithms to make educated guesses about user behaviors, presents an opportunity to reach audiences at scale. Google’s Privacy Sandbox brings the newly created Topics API to enable interest-based advertising. Additionally, advancements in AI and machine learning can refine probabilistic models, making them more predictive and effective. As Biegel commented, “We see real adoption of different techniques that look at whatever signals are available like email-based IDs, UID 2.0, modeled probabilistic IDs (like ID5) or contextual. Most likely it will be a combination of all three as replacements on the activation side for the cookie.”


6. Marketers need innovation to measure in a more fragmented landscape

The decline of cookies necessitates a fresh approach to measurement as well. Marketers must pivot from reliance on single-touch or last-touch attribution to multi-touch attribution models that account for various customer touchpoints grounded in a persistent identity solution. As Treon pointed out, “The big piece overlaying all of this is how it lines up to cross-channel measurement. With the cookie going away, the shift in how we look at measurement and outcomes is just as much at risk."

Advanced, data-driven marketers lean on innovations across analytics capabilities, such as identity-powered marketing attribution, more frequent MMM, more rapid geo- and audience- tests, and new measurement tools like Google’s Attribution Reporting API. These solutions allow marketers to understand cross-channel impacts without compromising privacy. Biegel pointed out in response to an audience question, “There’s a focus on better measurement and what identifiers we have and tying that back together, understanding you're not going to be able to go cross digital as easily as you once did.” Marketers need to shift to measurement solutions that aren’t reliant on the cookie and can provide guidance on how to best optimize investments across channels.



Looking to manage data deprecation?

Watch this short video to learn how the TruAudience suite of privacy-first identity resolution, data enrichment, audience targeting and advanced analytics solutions can help you navigate this year’s cookie deprecation. Or, if you want to see it in action, schedule a demo today.  

Do you have questions? Our team is ready to help.