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Navigating Identity Shifts: Strategies for Sustaining Addressability Amid New Landscapes

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The expected shift away from third-party cookies might have slid from 2024 into 2025. But the shift is reshaping the marketing and advertising industry in ways that matter today. The need for organizations to prioritize addressability has never been greater. Yet many marketers are still struggling with precisely how to rework their data strategies to be sustainable for the long haul.

The post-cookie landscape presents an opportunity to explore new privacy-centric solutions and redefine advertising strategies, establishing a more consent-based and transparent advertising model.

Here’s what that means in practice:

First-party data requires enrichment

In the face of cookie deprecation, most marketers have been told that they’ll need to increase their focus on acquiring and using first-party data provided by their customers and prospects – but that’s just part of the story. It’s actually first-party data, in conjunction with third-party data, that will provide a viable alternative to targeting in a cookieless world.

For the most part, brands simply do not have enough first-party data to execute a meaningful data strategy that achieves their marketing needs. Third-party data is essential to rounding out a brand’s marketing strategy due to its ability to help marketers understand customers and reach new prospects. Third-party data can provide the scale and addressability needed to target omnichannel advertising campaigns.

Marketers can future-proof with ID-agnostic audience data

Privacy-centric personalization of marketing and advertising is possible, with the right audience data. By embracing ID-agnostic audience solutions, brands can set themselves up for success in the future by ensuring their continued ability to engage target consumers consistently​ on digital channels.

In vetting the right audience solutions, marketers need to understand how targeting will be accomplished once cookies are fully deprecated. Here are a few ways:

  • First-party data: Companies that work directly with data providers can tap into their robust audience insights in a privacy-first way.
  • Mobile IDs: Mobile IDs are expected to keep working the same way as they do now and will expand to OTT, connected TV and other environments.
  • Hashed emails (HEMs): Marketers should look for solutions that tap into the HEMs that enable them to extend audience targeting to social channels.
  • Universal IDs: Solutions should operate in an ID-agnostic fashion by integrating with companies that have created identifiers to universally recognize and share information on users without cookies (e.g., ID5 UID2).
  • Contextual data: The most powerful cookieless solutions use real-time content signals that don’t rely on the use of third-party cookies.​
  • Group IDs: Strong cookieless data solutions should also support Google’s transition to interest-based marketing by providing custom audiences built with third-party data.
  • IP address: IP addresses provide a data point that can be tied to household or business-level online activity. IPs can also correspond to connected TVs.

4 steps to maintaining addressability in the new identity landscape

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As brands pivot to prepare for the post-cookie world, their paths should be multifaceted.

  1. Integrate audience data and first-party data: Brands can unlock more information about their customers and enable more precise targeting and personalized experiences by enriching their first-party data with third-party data. These enriched data sets can then be used to find new like-minded audiences that represent a brand’s most receptive prospects.
  2. Use context: Contextual data and targeting – fueled by data and insights into the content people are consuming and how they’re consuming it – enables brands to tap into predictive audiences without relying on cookies.
  3. Adopt universal ID solutions: Brands can engage their users without cookies across channels by shifting to strategies that embrace universal IDs. While no single ID will replace the cookie, an ID-agnostic approach that combines the power of multiple IDs can go a long way while complying with all applicable privacy rules.
  4. Target omnichannel environments: Brands should also deepen their investments in channels that have never depended on cookies, including audio, CTV, DOOH and others. These channels represent growing opportunities to reach relevant, engaged audiences. The right audience data partner can help tap into these channels as part of a holistic omnichannel targeting and attribution strategy.

As alluring as a single “silver bullet” replacement for third-party cookies would be, it doesn’t exist – nor would it represent a sustainable path forward for our industry. Rather, today’s brands need to deepen their exploration and commitment to multiple privacy-safe approaches if they want to continue to reach and expand their audiences in a relevant and efficient way.

The right partners for this journey are the ones focused on long-term future-proofing, not short-term stopgaps.

For more articles featuring Kristina Prokop, click here.

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