The debate continues to rage on about how to handle pending do not track legislation and the ultimate demise of cookies.

There is no doubt that at some point in the future cookies will be replaced by a universal ID of some sort, but it amazes me that today most advertisers are not taking full advantage of the platforms available to unify their cookies and control reach, frequency and overlap. Yes, there are limitations to cookies, namely the inability to track users cross device, but there is still tremendous value to unifying your marketing efforts around the cookie.

Preparing for the Future

Investing in a ubiquitous platform versus point solutions today will not only provide value in the current cookie environment, but also provide a springboard for the future as do not track takes hold and a universal ID is established. Most forward thinking advertisers understand this and are building their “big data” strategy today and not waiting to see where legislation might go with do not track.

So why build an infrastructure for a unified view? With such a heavy influence on today’s marketers to move budget into digital, advertisers need to understand how to:

  • Efficiently spend their digital dollars by determining optimal frequencies and messaging for each marketing initiative.
  • Control the reach frequency and overlap among the multitude of inventory providers and digital tactics (search, video, mobile, classic display, RTB display) to maximize their digital spend.
  • Understand how consumers move through the marketing funnel and how different messages, ads and tactics interact with one another and affect the consumer journey. 

So what does it mean to unify your cookie pools? It simply means looking across all of your digital advertising and finding and de-duplicating cookies. This enables you to see a single view of how many unique consumers you are reaching, at what frequency, on which inventory partners you find them and what their journey looks like before they produce the action you are looking for. 

Connecting the Data Dots with Unified Cookie Pool

It sounds simple, but in a world where cookies are constantly changing speed is critical. Industry data has shown that less than 50% of cookies will be seen more than once. When looking within a 30-day window (typical attribution window for purchase/action) the percentage of cookies seen again drops to less than 33%. So, having a platform that can work in real time is essential to take advantage of a cookie pool that is constantly changing. Without the sort of intelligence that comes with unifying and tracking your cookie pools, it is easy to see how a large portion of an advertiser's budget could easily be wasted on: excessive frequency, massive overlap between inventory partners, re-targeting efforts that fight one another for last touch credit and cookies that will never be seen again.

The above media efficiency value doesn't consider the opportunity to further enhance marketing efforts with data. Once you have unified your cookie pools, now you can begin to enrich them with data. You can enrich those pools with first party CRM data, offline demographic and purchase data, online behavior data and even specific publisher data. This allows you to build custom consumer profiles layered on top of efficient media spend to drive consumers through the marketing funnel with ruthless efficiency.


Once you have unified your cookie pools and enhanced them with data there is now an opportunity to analyze your efforts across different parts of the marketing funnel. You can begin to answer questions like:

  1. What inventory partners are effective at driving influence at the upper end of the funnel when consumers are making brand decisions?
  2. What inventory partners drive the most unique reach? (Could be on a percentage or sheer volume of new consumer opportunities)
  3. What is my optimal frequency for a conversion?
  4. What messages or offers work best at the upper end of the funnel?
  5. What formats drive the best results in the upper funnel?
  6. Where is there overlap between upper funnel branding activities and lower funnel purchase activities? (this is good overlap as it shows your efforts at both ends of the funnel are in unison)
  7. Where is there overlap at the lower end of the funnel? (shows you inventory partners fighting over the same cookie pools for last touch credit … drives up your media cost and often creates a poor brand experience by bombarding the consumer well above the optimal frequency)

Ultimately, unifying your cookie pools enables you to connect all of your data in real time then layer it on top of the marketing funnel to provide you a roadmap to more efficiently spend your media dollars with the inventory partners that perform best, in the formats that consumers respond to best and with the message that resonates the most. The best part of this strategy is it provides value today and prepares you for a future without cookies.

Title image courtesy of cooperr (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: To read more on the changing world of cookies, see The European Commission Geolocation Cookie Monster: Friend or Foe?