Jan 24 2024
Megan Reschke

Cookieless Advertising for CPG Marketers


For nearly two decades, third-party cookies have helped advertisers understand audiences’ behaviors, create personalized advertising experiences to meet their needs, and measure the impact of their campaigns. But recent years have brought an increased focus on consumer data privacy—spurred by regulations and consumer demands alike—and third-party cookies are on the way out.

As of 2024, Google’s long-awaited (or, more aptly, long-delayed) deprecation of cookies in Chrome is officially underway, with a total phaseout appearing set for later in the year. That cookie deprecation is a key factor in the widespread signal loss that’s now posing a challenge for all advertisers, but especially those in the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. CPG marketers are already contending with highly saturated markets, navigating the explosion of private-label goods and adapting to complex consumer sentiments.

To help CPG advertisers navigate signal loss and third-party cookie deprecation, we spoke to Vanessa Allen, Basis Technologies’ VP of Integrated Client Solutions. Read on for her top insights for CPG advertisers to consider as they invest in and implement privacy-friendly advertising solutions.

What are the top considerations for CPG advertisers as we move towards a cookieless future?

Vanessa Allen: Even though CPG marketers won’t have third-party cookies to work with, there is still going to be a heavy focus on identifying who their target audience is and determining how they’re going to reach them. First-party data is going to be critical for this, as it allows advertisers to tap into audiences who are already interested in their products. As such, it’s important for CPG advertisers and brands to ensure they’re collecting that data in a privacy-compliant manner and storing it in a way that makes it easy to use.

It's also going to be important for CPG brands and advertisers to really focus in on researching and understanding consumer behaviors. Once they have those insights, they can adapt their campaigns to meet audiences’ distinct needs. That might look like leaning into opportunities with user-generated content on social to connect with younger audiences, or it could involve highlighting product and service offerings focused on convenience, since more and more shoppers (millennials, in particular) say this is a key factor that influences their purchasing decisions.

What cookieless marketing solutions are particularly useful for CPG advertisers?

VA: As mentioned earlier, first-party data will be crucial in a number of different ways. Many CPG brands—and, especially, larger brands—have a ton of this data already and are well-positioned to use it to connect with audiences in personalized ways. They can use this data not only to focus on retaining audiences who they know have bought their products in the past, but also to push out new products to those audiences to drive trial.

Contextual targeting will be another key tool to leverage, especially for more niche CPG brands. For instance, let’s say you’re a brand that offers direct delivery of toilet paper or paper towels, and you do it in a way that minimizes waste. So, you’re cutting down on how much plastic and extra packaging you use, and you’re offering a way for customers to get your products in a convenient way. Since many of your customers might be interested in sustainability or eco-friendly options, you might target display ads to websites that talk about green products and/or being a more environmentally conscientious consumer.

Another option is tapping into retail media networks (RMNs) to take advantage of their proprietary data. But it’s important to take a balanced approach to RMNs, as brands also need to be building up their own data so that they aren’t entirely reliant on these walled gardens. When it comes to leveraging RMNs or using other platforms’ second-party data, it’s important to incorporate them as part of a holistic media mix.

In terms of attribution, traditional CPG brands are already accustomed to using third-party brand lift studies to measure the results of their ads (i.e., household lift, awareness, sales lift), since they can’t measure footfall traffic. As we shift towards a privacy-first approach, these studies are going to continue to play a major role. For direct-to-consumer brands, it’s going to be pretty seamless for them to connect the dots on their website using first-party data they’ve collected.

Could you provide some specific examples for how CPG advertisers might approach the cookieless future?

VA: Absolutely! Let’s imagine you’re working on a campaign for an organic pet food. This product is pretty niche, so it’s going to be critical for you to understand your target audience and home in on where they’re spending time and consuming content. Most likely, your target customers are going to be doing research on the best pet foods, and using contextual targeting to place ads based on relevant keywords is one effective way to reach them. Additionally, you might determine that people who have pets who are sick are more likely to turn to different, specialty pet diets. To connect with those audiences, you might also target pages that discuss specific pet conditions that necessitate a different diet.

As another example, let’s go back to our earlier eco-friendly paper goods brand. In addition to leveraging contextual targeting, advertisers for this brand could use promotions (for instance, free shipping) to incentivize consumers to share their first-party data. Then, they could use that data to follow up with targeted, more personalized ads and recommendations based on this opted-in user data.

Wrapping Up: Cookieless Advertising for CPG Marketers

Though third-party cookie deprecation will change the game for digital advertisers in many ways, CPG marketers are well-positioned to reach audiences in privacy-friendly ways. By researching their consumers and adapting to meet their needs, leveraging first-party data, and using contextual targeting intentionally, CPG advertisers can connect with audiences at key moments of impact, drive conversions, and bolster brand loyalty.

Want to learn more about the state of identity in 2024? We surveyed over 200 marketing and advertising professionals to discover how they’re navigating signal loss, third-party cookie deprecation, and the shift towards privacy-first digital advertising. Check out all the latest data and insights in our in-depth report.

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