How to prepare for privacy changes as an advertiser in a post-cookie world

Matt Russell, Senior Programmatic manager at VERB, discusses what the future of privacy means for luxury brands and how you should prepare to find the right target audiences in the new post cookie world. 

Part 1 to this blog series, The Rise of User Privacy, focussed on what the future of user privacy means for luxury brands as browser cookies* (not collected on a first-party basis) are increasingly being phased out. Moving forwards, this post discusses how brands and businesses can prepare for these changes to come, through three core pillars that make up media buying: Technology, Data, Audience.

*Cookies are small pieces of data that are used to identify your computer as you use a computer network. Specific cookies known as HTTP cookies are used to identify specific users and improve your web browsing experience. Read our blog post The Rise of User Privacy to understand more.


With the phasing out of cookies, the way adtech biddable platforms will be used is going to change. That being said, they will still remain as platforms for delivery putting further dependency on analytics platforms to be the drivers of audience insights in the media planning process. 

Tracking (via tag-managers like Google Tag Manager) should be largely moved to the server-side, as this means events that are being tracked can be passed directly through to adtech platforms eg. your DSP or Paid Social Platform.

In turn, this means audiences can be built using the data-layer collected directly from your server, passing through events directly from the cloud to your ad platform. These can then form the first party targeting and lookalike strategies mentioned above. 

If this sounds a little too “techy” drop us an email and myself or the team can explain this further or help you out on this journey.


Once this technical piece is complete, the next focus should fall to your data layer. It is important to consider your data pool and how you’re collecting and segmenting this. Have you considered the following questions? 

01 How is it best to segment your audience? 

02 What avenues have you as a business taken to acquire quality first-party data? 

03 Have you mapped out your user journey across your website/app environments and passed the required events to your tag manager/adtech platforms? 

For Facebook, this can be done via the conversions API, or similarly via u-variables in your Floodlight configuration, in your ad-server for Programmatic channels.


It’s also important to consider how you will feed this data into your analytics platform. Google Analytics 4 has essentially been designed for this move, offering alternative views to the old Universal Analytics view, due to the focus on data being process through sessions (rather than user information). This in turn allows for the processing of events and creation of dashboards to better understand your user funnel, without relying on large volumes of non-consented user data.

Technology, Data and Audience make up the crux of how best to serve ads but there does need to be strategy and thought behind what you’re doing…

How best to segment your audience data

This largely depends on the kind of business you are e.g. an ecommerce business may prioritise new sales and lifetime value, whereas a high value ticket lead-driven environment may be less transactional. The key trick is to identify how a user will follow the conversion journey across all of your marketing environments (Web, App) and then plan your media to target with a relevant message, for a relevant user (based on your segmented data layer).

As you move through this process, this progress can then be matched against a digital maturity matrix – ensuring data is being intelligently collected, whilst focusing on automation to further enhance how you’re talking to your end consumer. This ultimately means users can be reached in the same way, at the right time, in the right place – without intrusive, non-consented data collection.

Is the phasing out of Cookies and good or bad thing for us as marketers?

At VERB, we are big advocates for socially-responsible data usage, and feel the legislation is an important step in providing better control to the end user. Although this will mean reduced data availability for analysis and attribution modelling, it also means alternative approaches will spring up through the usage of CDPs (and to a point, still DMPs).  These have evolved away from using third party data, and are already taking us into algorithm-led automation in advertising through predictive modelling.  

Ultimately, the tech giants look to benefit, as they use the mountains of data they have gathered on the population over the past decades, to build their intelligent, predictive algorithms – and use this information to anonymise how we as marketers target. That being said, this new privacy  offers a safer, less intrusive ecosystem – returning to a time when advertising was reliant on quality content for their consumer, rather than hyper-targeted messaging that follows you around the internet.

Get in touch with an expert at VERB to talk more about data and analytics. We are here to help and want to hear from you!