Digiday+ Research: Brands express a lot less worry tied to the end of the third-party cookie

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The second half of the year is rolling, which means we’re getting closer to the actual beginning of the end of the third-party cookie. But marketers aren’t as worried about targeting and measuring ads in the post-cookie world as you might think, especially in the case of brands.

This is according to a Digiday+ Research survey of 88 brand and agency professionals.

Digiday’s survey found that, while brands are still concerned about their ability to target and measure ads without third-party cookies, that worry has subsided greatly in the last year. In the second quarter of 2022, nearly three-quarters of brand pros (71%) told Digiday they agreed they worried about their ability to target ads without cookies. In Q2 2023, that percentage fell to half (50%). At the same time, the percentage of brand pros who said they worry about their ability to measure ads without cookies fell from 84% in Q2 last year to just short of two-thirds (65%) in Q2 this year.

In fact, a lot more brand pros now disagree that the end of the cookie is a source of worry when it comes to their ability to target and measure ads. A year ago, just 22% of brand pros told Digiday they disagreed that they worried about their ability to target ads without third-party cookies. This year, that percentage jumped to 31%. Meanwhile, the percentage of brands who said they disagree that their ability to measure ads post-cookies is a source of worry increased from 13% last year to 22% this year.

Looking more closely at the data, the biggest shift happened among brand pros who told Digiday they agree somewhat that they worry about targeting and measurement without cookies. In Q2 last year, more than half of brand pros (55%) told Digiday they agreed somewhat that they worried about their ability to target ads without third-party cookies. In Q2 this year, that percentage was just over a third (38%). And the percentage of brands who said they agree somewhat that they worry about their ability to measure ads without cookies fell from nearly two-thirds (65%) last year to exactly half this year.

Consequently, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Digiday’s survey also found far fewer brand pros think the end of third-party cookies will hurt their business than last year. Slightly more than half of brands (52%) agreed in Q2 last year that their business would hurt in a post-cookie world. This year, fewer than one-third (31%) said the same. Looking further into the data, not one brand respondent to Digiday’s survey this year said they agree strongly that the end of the cookie will hurt their business. (10 percent said last year that they strongly agreed with this.)

Meanwhile, the percentage of brand pros who said they agree somewhat that the cookie’s end will hurt their business fell from 42% last year to 31% this year. And the percentage of those who said they disagree somewhat rose from 16% last year to 25% this year.

On the agency side of things, Digiday’s survey found that, overall, agency pros are worried about what the death of the cookie will mean for their targeting and measurement abilities, but no more so than they were a year ago. More than half of agency pros (57%) told Digiday in Q2 they agree that they worry about their ability to target ads without third-party cookies, and more than two-thirds (68%) said they worry about their ability to measure ads in a post-cookie world. But agencies’ worries about ad targeting and measurement are relatively unchanged from Q2 last year, when 53% said they agreed they were worried about their ability to target ads and 68% said they were worried about their ability to measure them.

However, when we dig deeper into the data there is a significant difference in agencies’ worries about targeting and measurement between this year and last year: More agency pros agree strongly this year that they’re worried about their abilities to target and measure ads than last year, as opposed to agreeing only somewhat.

For instance, 8% of agency pros told Digiday in Q2 last year they agreed strongly that they worried about their ability to target ads without third-party cookies. In Q2 this year, that percentage jumped to 14%. And the percentage of agency pros who said they agree strongly that they worry about their ability to measure ads without cookies rose from 16% in Q2 last year to a full quarter (25%) in Q2 this year. Meanwhile, the percentage of agencies who said they agree only somewhat that they worry about their measurement ability fell from more than half (52%) last year to 43% this year.

In spite of all that, Digiday’s survey found that agencies are less worried this year that the end of third-party cookies will hurt their business compared with last year — and actually that agencies aren’t really sure that the death of the cookie will end up hurting their business. Just over one-quarter of agency pros (27%) said in Q2 this year they agree that the end of third-party cookies will hurt their business, down from a little more than one-third (34%) last year. At the same time, the percentage of agencies who said they neither agree nor disagree that the end of the cookie will hurt their business rose from 27% in Q2 2022 to 34% in Q2 2023.

https://digiday.com/?p=511350

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