Why the convergence of AI, privacy and cookie deprecation in 2024 will bring stability to the marketing industry

While the marketing landscape has been in a state of upheaval for years now, in 2024, there will be a collision of multiple long-watched industry trends — particularly when it comes to the move to a cookieless ecosystem, new industry applications of artificial intelligence and the transition to a privacy-first reality. 

Even with the culmination and convergence of these trends, it doesn’t mean that the ever-accelerating rate of change within digital marketing is going to grind to a halt — far from it. However, as companies and marketers reconcile some of the implications of these shifts, the marketing industry is going to collectively find a new level of clarity and stability that has been absent for a long time. 

In this Q&A, the Custom in-house agency at Digiday spoke with Kristina Prokop, co-founder of Eyeota and general manager of audience solutions at Dun & Bradstreet, about how the trends of AI and being privacy-first will collide with the cookie deprecation in 2024 and what it means for the industry moving forward. 

Kristina Prokop: For years, our industry has been discussing finding trustworthy, reliable and validated solutions for a cookieless world. Tremendous progress has been made, and the network of solutions that is now available will be capable of helping brands and agencies continue to target and measure their campaigns across channels. However, that doesn’t mean marketers have had the time and space to test, learn and implement at the level needed to transition seamlessly. 

Google’s 2024 deprecation of third-party cookies will hit some organizations harder than others. On the brand and agency side, we expect to see a reshuffling in market leadership. Those who have spent the past couple of years collecting and cleansing first-party data from all touchpoints, investing in cloud-based infrastructure for effective data management and embracing cookieless strategies such as contextual targeting and universal IDs will blow past their competitors while they race to catch up. On the ad tech and data side, we’ll likely see a similar reshuffling, not unlike what we witnessed in a post-GDPR reality in Europe. The companies that have prepared will be able to cope with transitional hiccups, while others flounder and, in some cases, remove themselves from the playing field altogether. 

AI has been a huge focus across the industry this year. What role do you see it playing in 2024, and how do you think marketers should use the tech?

Kristina Prokop: In 2023, AI took over marketing conversations, and in 2024, it will take over marketing executions. The hype will fall away, and the legitimate, well-grounded capabilities that AI brings to our industry will experience a wave of accelerated adoption. A tremendous part of that adoption will be driven, in fact, by the deprecation of third-party cookies. 

Next year, AI and machine learning will play a significant role in data optimization and audience segmentation in the digital media industry. These technologies, while not entirely new, are newly relevant and more robust than ever when it comes to their capacity to extend the value of privacy-safe data in meaningful ways across channels. They can enable predictive audiences based on first-party data, as well as more efficient campaign planning and optimization. AI and machine learning can also help marketers improve their data collection and analysis processes while providing deeper insights into audience behavior and interests. 

AI isn’t a replacement for third-party cookies, but it’s the essential accelerant and enabler of the technologies, tactics and processes that are ultimately going to bridge the gap. For that reason, AI will be the singular force that underpins our industry’s increased stability in 2024 and beyond. 

Kristina Prokop: Together, third-party cookie alternatives and AI will bring sustainable solutions to our industry’s most pressing data challenges in 2024 — and the timing couldn’t be better. Over the coming year, we can expect to see a continuation of the trend toward tighter regulations and increased protection of individual data privacy. There may also be a push for standardization of regulations across different regions, particularly in the U.S. Data privacy concerns will continue to be a major challenge for the ad tech industry in 2024, but organizations that have taken the necessary steps to prepare for a cookieless future and lean into AI capabilities will be a step ahead. 

To ensure ethical and responsible data practices, marketers and their partners must continue to focus on transparency, quality and compliance in data practices. This can be achieved by investing in key infrastructure and talent to regularly review and update data practices to meet industry standards and adapt to new regulations. At the same time, data providers and the industry at large must work toward compliance with laws and regulations while also advocating for the importance and benefits of targeted ads through branded ad campaigns and working with organizations such as the Ad Council to educate the public. 

It’s been a challenging few years for the data-driven marketing space, and 2024 will still offer its share of curveballs. But the collective work that’s gone into cookieless solutions, AI and data privacy compliance will begin to coalesce in a way that will pave a smoother road for brands, agencies and partners alike. As an industry, we must continue to press forward together. 

Sponsored by Eyeota

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