It felt like advertisers collectively breathed a sigh of relief at Google’s latest delay. We get it—you’re worried your cost per acquisition (CPA) will rise when you lose the scale third-party data offered.

That could realistically happen unless you’ve got a plan.

If you wait until the cookie crumbles to build that plan, you’ll be frantically split between getting set up to collect consent, gathering enough first-party data to keep your CPA steady, and testing new solutions.

If a campaign underperforms, you’ll have no idea if it’s because you lost the third-party cookie or another optimization issue.

The good news is you don’t have to be that frantic advertiser. Follow these best practices so that when the time comes, you can confidently test new solutions without the distraction of getting technically set up for success.

7 Cookieless Best Practices for Advertisers to Implement Now

These best practices intentionally focus on making the most of what you can do today—like collecting more first-party data and ensuring your current campaigns are fully optimized.

That’s because once third-party cookies are gone from Chrome, you’ll be busy with new solutions. In the meantime, you want to shore up your first-party data to keep current campaigns running at a reasonable CPA and enhance the accuracy of any AI-driven probabilistic audiences.

You’ll also want to know whether those new data sources are effective. That’ll require comparing them to accurate benchmarks you set before you lose access to third-party audiences.

1. Get Consent for Data Collection

First-party data will be the quickest to implement in your current campaigns after the phase out of the third-party cookie.

You want to collect as much of it as you can now so your campaigns run at a stable CPA, and so you can accurately train AI audience models in the future—they’ll only be as good as the data you provide.

Data regulations differ depending on country and region.

Generally speaking, you want to get permission from your website visitors to collect their data and communicate clearly how you will use and store that data.

Vodafone’s cookie policy is easily discoverable on its website. It’s linked in a pop-up that appears when you enter the site and in its footer.

It covers what data they collect and how they use and store that data in clear language that doesn’t read like legalese.

When people visit Vodafone’s website, they see a pop-up that prompts them to select their data collection preferences. They can accept all cookies, reject them, or choose custom settings.

If they choose to set custom settings, they’re taken to a pop-up screen explaining the different data collection types. They can toggle them on or off to select their preferences.

Providing this experience upfront means Vodafone immediately understands every website visitor’s data collection preferences and acts accordingly.

2. Install Pixels to Collect First-Party Data

The third-party cookie collects signals that someone saw and engaged with your ad and allows you to retarget them later.

Their Chrome-demise means you’ll lose access to those signals unless you collect them another way. You can use either Pixels or server-to-sever (S2S) integrations to accomplish this. They’ll allow you to tap into Taboola’s integration with Privacy Sandbox in the future.

Plus, they’re already considered a best practice across ad platforms. They’ll help you optimize your current campaigns and set more accurate benchmarks, regardless of the cookie’s fate.

Pixels and cookies do the same thing (kind of)—cookies collect information about a person on a website you don’t own, and pixels collect information about a person on a server you don’t own.

You can collect information like IP address, operating system, device type, browser, time of interaction, and on-site actions. These signals can become first-party identifiers on your domain.

For example, Algaecal uses them to retarget users who have added an item to their cart but failed to complete a purchase. Potential customers start by clicking on their ad on a site like Business Insider.

They’re then taken to Algaecal’s website, where they’re shown purchasing options and an “Add to Cart” call-to-action (CTA).

When a person adds an item to their cart, Taboola’s pixel collects a signal to allow them to target them in a later campaign.

Pixels also allow you to collect data on multiple signals at once. Renault Australia used a pixel to collect signals from people who interacted with a campaign promoting their new SUV Coupe.

After clicking their campaign, potential customers are taken to a landing page where they’re prompted to book a test drive with a pop-up. This creates an additional opportunity for Renault to collect first-party data.

Those that closed the pop-up were taken to a landing page where they could take one of several actions.

Taboola’s pixel collected data on those who built car configurations, used the find a dealer locator, or booked a test drive.

This enriched Renault’s data set, allowing them to identify a person’s location in their funnel and retarget them appropriately.

The easiest way to install the Tabool pixel is with Google Tag Manager (GTM). Navigate to the tracking tab in your Taboola Ads dashboard and click “Tracking Set-Up.” Select GTM from the list of options, and follow the instructions to connect your GTM account.

We recommend installing Taboola’s full Javascript pixel, which will allow you to distinguish between new and returning users.

3. Use a S2S Integration to Set Accurate Benchmarks

S2S integrations allow you to share data about website or mobile app activity between servers.

Today, they’re a beloved tracking tool for mobile app advertisers who want to see conversion data from publishers who might not have implemented a software development kit (SDK).

On the web, S2S eliminates the need for cookies on website visitors’ browsers or devices. Instead of using a cookie, it generates a unique ID passed between two secure servers, helping advertisers see a person’s entire customer journey.

Blinkist uses Taboola’s S2S integration to access a large audience without relying on third-party cookies. They can see every app download directly in their Taboola Ad Dashboard.

For example, one points to a Blinkist blog article where users are prompted to read a “Blink” by downloading their app.

Using Taboola’s S2S integration, Blinkist accurately measured over 60,000 new sign-ups at their goal CPA.

You can add S2S to your Taboola Ad Dashboard by navigating to your campaign setup and editing the tracking information at the bottom of the page. First, make sure the Taboola module is correctly integrated with the platform you’re using. If you already use the Taboola Pixel, you can set up your S2S integration as an event.

You’ll then see all of your conversions in Taboola Ads reports.

You’ll see conversions from multiple places in a single account.

4. Test First-Party Data Sets Provided by Ad Platforms

Some ad platforms offer first-party datasets to their advertisers.

Taboola has unique data due to our direct, code-on-page integration with over 9,000 publisher partners and because we power user engagement on these websites beyond just ad clicks.

Access to Taboola’s data, which includes data from Connexity, Yahoo, and other partners, further enriches our advertisers’ data pool, and that data set is constantly growing. We’ve added over 500 new data segments in the past year alone.

You can use this data when creating a new campaign. Select the data set you’d like to use in the Audience Targeting section. They’ll be organized by those that are first-party (1P) and third-party (3P).

You can choose from different topics like industry, behavior, demographics, and more.

If you’re already a Taboola advertiser, we recommend testing some of these datasets before the third-party cookie deprecates to find those that will yield comparable performance. If you’re not already a Taboola advertiser, sign up to explore our available data.

5. Use Bidding Tools that Automatically Maximize Conversions

So many factors go into grabbing the most conversions possible at a reasonable cost from the open web—a person’s audience profile, the time of the day, the language, the content, ad creative, and more.

It’s so complicated that we can pretty much guarantee your campaigns aren’t optimal if you’re manually bidding. Using bidding tools that automatically maximize conversions within your budget or CPA target takes the guesswork away.

Taboola’s Maximize Conversions bidding strategy automatically does this for you. You’ll need to implement this strategy using our pixel or S2S integration, but it’s worth it.

Hyundai used it to promote their new Tucson car model in Spain to maximize the cost per session. Their sessions and leads automatically increased at a more efficient cost—30% lower CPA than their target.

6. Benchmark Your Most Important KPIs

Fast forward to the day the cookie crumbles—you’ll be busy testing new targeting solutions on the market. As you go, you’ll need to know whether they measure up to the third-party data solutions of the past.

So, you need a measuring stick. That means setting benchmarks today that you can be confident are a good indication of optimal campaign performance using third-party data.

First and foremost, ensure you’ve got a CPA benchmark you’re confident can be used as an effective measuring stick to test new targeting methods in a cookieless future.

If you’ve done that, you’re ahead of the game and should focus on setting benchmarks up-funnel for even more accuracy. You don’t want future-you to scramble to fix attribution issues while testing new datasets.

Strive to have effective benchmarks for the following:

  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)
  • Cost per lead (CPL)
  • Conversion rate (CVR)
  • Any relevant website events
  • Website Traffic
  • Click-through-rate (CTR)
  • Engagement
  • Impressions

If you’ve successfully set KPIs throughout your funnel, you’ll be set up to see where new datasets succeed or fail.

Perhaps your CPA is higher using a dataset from a Privacy Sandbox because the dataset isn’t large enough to begin with. That’s because you’re not seeing the impressions you used to with your third-party data sets.

Maybe you are attracting enough impressions, but the audience’s makeup is slightly different, and the messaging on your website needs to be tweaked to get back to the same conversion rate.

The better the benchmarks you have today, the better you’ll be able to measure the solutions of tomorrow.

7. Run Ad Campaigns Dedicated to First-Party Data Collection

Lastly, another way to collect more first-party data is to run campaigns dedicated to its collection.

For example, this ad from Noom on CNBC’s website prompts potential customers to take a weight loss quiz.

When you click the ad, they’re taken to an extensive quiz where Noom learns more about them to provide a personalized weight loss plan. This quiz itself is a form of data collection.

At the end of the quiz, Noom asks for their email to send their results, a more popular form of first-party data collection.

Another tactic is to promote lead magnets like webinars or ebooks. Full Circle Insights promoted a webinar for marketers interested in marketing operations.

When marketers clicked their ad, they were taken to a landing page where they had to provide first-party data to register for the webinar.

Some other tactics include promoting in-person events and newsletters, or collecting more first-party data when customers make a purchase online.

Crumbling Cookies Aren’t Anything to Fear

It’s natural to panic when you lose an advertising solution working for you. Replacing third-party cookies seems complicated and puts you at risk for underperforming campaigns.

But the future can be much more certain if you work to shore up your first-party data and set benchmarks you feel are a confident measuring stick for tomorrow’s cookieless world.

We’re confident that we can effectively navigate our advertisers through this change. Our expansive first-party data based on thousands of code-on-page integrations, and our knowledge of advanced AI solutions, puts us in a position to support advertisers through this transition to a privacy-centric world.

Sign up today to explore our first-party data options. Our team is standing by to answer your questions and help you launch your first campaign.

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