Preparing for a Cookieless World: Three Steps We're Taking Today

By Brittany Schermerhorn and Lindsay Richardson • Posted

The days of relying on third-party data to achieve media performance goals are numbered. With Google pulling the plug on third-party cookies across its Chrome browser by the end of 2023, plus the changing privacy landscape, all marketers are facing the same challenge—how to prepare for a cookieless reality.

In this new world, marketers must be ready to tackle changes with data-signal loss and the corresponding impact on audience targeting, optimizations, measurement, and attribution. New strategies will have to be deployed to continue reaching our targets and driving performance.

Razorfish has been helping brands across all verticals take three key steps to help future-proof marketing strategies, including:

Step 1: Auditing the tech stack

First, we determine:

  • What tools are being leveraged? (Adobe, Google Analytics, Snowflake, etc.)
  • Where are first-party audiences being housed? (DMP, CDP, etc.)
  • What partnerships are in place for audience distribution and modeling? (LiveRamp, Epsilon, etc.)

Step 2: Reviewing current targeting and data usage

Next, we learn:

  • How much media spend is going to first-, second-, and third-party data?
  • Is contextual targeting being used?
  • What percent of conversions are view-through vs. click-through?
  • Are custom-bidding, AI cookieless solutions being leveraged?

Across clients, we found consistent trends, including:

  • Heavy reliance on third-party data
  • Contextual tactics not being leveraged despite technological advancements
  • View-through driving the majority of display conversions
  • Custom-bidding algorithms rarely being used

Step 3: Developing a testing roadmap

Based on the information gained from step 2, we work with clients to establish short-term tests for quick wins, while developing a more sophisticated, long-term ID testing roadmap. Here’s an overview of our approach:

Short-term testing

In the short term, the focus is on prioritizing first-party audience creation and activation and testing different data providers to identify the best cookieless options. We test multiple contextual providers to determine which deliver best against KPIs, trying new ad formats, exploring outcome-based buying models, and testing the DSP’s proprietary custom algorithm bidding and third-party custom algorithms.

Long-term testing

In the long term, the plan involves continuous and iterative testing of IDs to determine their effectiveness and efficiency. We map out tests with all ID providers and evaluate their performance across the open web and within their native environments. The goal is to observe delivery and determine the scale of ID solutions as well as evaluate performance and efficiency against primary campaign KPIs. This helps us see which ID solution performs best, the scale of ID solutions in the open web, and whether the ID performs better in one DSP over another. Solutions offered by walled gardens will be tested as those become available.

We are not taking a head-to-head testing approach as we believe ID partners will continue to enhance their solutions and the future state of targeting will not leverage only one ID. Instead, we will tailor activations by IDs that best suit individual clients and campaign needs.


While our initial ID testing continues to leverage last-touch attribution reporting, we’re actively exploring full-funnel ID attribution via clean-room solutions and evaluating custom-modeled solutions rather than relying solely on black-box partner solutions. As all ID testing is iterative, measurement will continuously evolve.

Navigating a cookieless future will take more than cookie-cutter solutions. Our experts can design a roadmap built for your business needs.

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