All change: seizing the opportunities for audience measurement in a post-cookie world?

Audience measurement is ready for the challenges of a post-cookie world – but concerted effort is needed to rearchitect data systems and maintain trust with clients and consumers.

The opportunities and challenges of first-party data continue to provoke great debate. It was the core focus of a session I chaired at the most recent World Audiences Summit, where we discussed how best to navigate the uncertainty resulting from both the demise of cookies and increasing online privacy regulation.

There are arguably three great challenges (or opportunities) facing audience measurement:

  • Increased regulation of the web by governments and regulatory bodies seeking to foster competition, enhance transparency and increase consumers’ control of their own data. Regulation, which typically lags behind technology, makes it important for companies dealing with data to look ahead and anticipate. What’s acceptable and common practice today may not be so tomorrow.
  • Global online platforms’ increasing focus on curating privacy for the industry, from Apple’s app-tracking transparency initiatives to Google’s planned move to block cookies.
  • The rest of the open web’s quest for cookie ID alternatives and a way to best leverage first-party identifiers into internal and third-party measurement and other online intermediary service programmes.

It’s clear we’re in the midst of a rearchitecting of the internet and the way that it’s measured. The opportunities presented by first-party data are exciting, but can it fill the hole left by cookies which, up to now, have allowed us to track online users, providing vital input to understanding reach, frequency and competitive context? To leverage first-party data and make the most of its potential, three components are needed: an fundament on privacy compliance, the deployment of new data science techniques that enhance and combine data sets intelligently, and the critical role of consented panels as the underlying source of truth.

This article was published exclusively on on March 17, 2022.