Guest Blogs

The End of the Cookie: A New dawn of Outcomes First Marketing?

The cookieless world of martech is almost here & everyone is predicting the future of marketing. Checkout views of Mark Pearlstein from Silverbullet on Cookieless Martech
digital advertising

The impending doom of the 3rd party cookie has been well documented but the real question for most marketers is what comes next? Should we think more broadly and how can we ensure what comes next is better? In this article, Mark Pearlstein, CRO of Contextual Outcomes Engine 4D, take a look at how marketers should embrace the demise of the cookie as an opportunity to go ‘beyond replacing one piece of data,’ the cookie, with another, but instead, shift our attention to driving outcomes.

The marketing formula never changes:

Right Person + Right Message + Right Content = Outcomes

As an industry we have spent thousands of hours at conferences discussing the marketing formula. We have invested hundreds of millions of dollars of capital building technology to support this thesis. But as we look to a post 3rd party cookie world shouldn’t we pause for a moment and take a hard look at what worked well and what didn’t?

The reality is, the 3rd party cookie is going away – not because cookies are inherently bad, but because the way the industry embraced cookies caused consumer backlash rarely seen before.

Let’s explore what we as an industry have preached and what we can do better

We have always believed digital advertising’s greatest advantage was data, and I mean endless data, which alone would drive ROI. However, the reality, according to LinkedIn, is only 37% of digital marketers describe themselves as “very” confident in their digital ROI metrics, and 68% of brands have misattributed ROI.

Likewise, only one in four CMOs feel confident in effectively measuring ROI. How is this possible given all the data we generate? If the last decade proved anything, marketers leaned into the cookie, believing tracking users was the panacea to driving outcomes. The problem is the user is only one part of the age -ld marketing equation: ‘Right person, plus right message, plus right content’.

The 1st Lesson of the Cookie Era


Marketers got so wrapped up in the ‘right person,’ that along the way we reduced the value of the creative and contextual environment in driving outcomes to virtually zero.

The right message became all about retargeting and the creepy ads that followed consumers around, although somewhat effective, certainly was not creative genius. And the right contextual environment resulted in shifting huge media investments into the social walled gardens where those platforms own the attribution data.

It is no wonder, only 25% of CMOs are confident they can measure ROI, and only 1 in 4 brands have invested in tracking outcomes beyond what is provided by social platforms. In fact, we went so far that we started equating the ‘right person’ to outcomes, while creative and context were left relatively untouched. Herein lies the first lesson for marketers; relying too heavily on any one data point is not sustainable – it is inflexible and creates a single point of failure.

The 2nd Lesson of the Cookie Era

Not sure anyone would disagree that the industry fell in love with audience-based marketing. Why? It’s simple. Because consumers – real people – buy products, book travel and so on.

For advertisers, having the ability to target specific consumer audiences meant they could control the narrative. “Right person” has always been a part of the marketing formula and while that proved to be successful, the real understudy was the cookie.

The cookie was scalable, a deterministic data point that the adtech world embraced as the connective tissue to link digital marketing platforms. The second lesson teaches us that the marketing ecosystem must have a common deterministic data point that ties all other data together to function cohesively.

 If you have ever tried to solve a complex maze in an activity book, you’ll likely know that starting at the end point and going backwards is easier. Well, the same principle can be applied to figuring out the next era of digital marketing.

Based on the lessons learned, there are three core principles that will help rebuild our ecosystem:

  • Driving outcomes is the objective
  • We must have a scalable deterministic data points that we can use to interconnect systems
  • Balance in the marketing formula across People, Content and Creative is critical

Looking to the future: In-the-moment context drives outcomes

 The How:

 By now everyone has heard the post-cookie industry mantra: The Rise of Contextual. The challenge is that we tend to think about old ideas in their original format. In this case we think of contextual as targeting keywords on a page. But as we shift away from cookies and we look at the re-emergence of contextual, it is important we understand the significance it can bring. Most significant is contextual or more specifically the URL gives marketers the deterministic data point that can tie the ecosystem together.

In fact, the URL is the only deterministic data point left on virtually every impression since Google, the ID 2.0 and other folks in the Common ID space are very disjointed in their approach. In a recent release, Google released that they will not support ID’s or any other format of unified ID’s.

Therefore, it is highly unlikely we will ever again have a standard audience identifier that can act as the deterministic data point that supplies deterministic impression level data and can easily be accessed and optimized. On the bright side, the URL is ubiquitous, here to stay, fully transparent, and highly accessible and will be the driving force behind how outcomes are ultimately tied to context, audience and any creative data for that matter. This methodology is not only consistent, but safe in regulatory practices allowing marketers to derive true marketing outcomes, by layering on additional data as they see fit.

 The Nuance:

 It is also important to make another distinction between contextual targeting and what we in the new era refer to as context targeting (also known as suitability targeting), which identifies in-the-moment marketing opportunities by analyzing content along with the broad spectrum of emotion, sentiment, location, audience identifiers and other data signals available in real-time to align consumer receptivity with the brand message.

This is the antidote to brand safety blocking from the cookie era that focused heavily on negative avoidance since marketers could always find the cookie on another website. Context targeting proves to be promising, in fact, some studies suggest context targeting can increase purchase intent by 63% versus that of audience or channel level targeting. In reality, new context targeting solutions are proven to drive holistic outcomes that legacy contextual targeting as data points simply put, could not.

 Key takeaways: How to drive real marketing outcomes
1. The marketing formula never changes, but it does rebalance, requiring marketers to retool their digital stack and align strategies with the post-cookie environment.

2. The URL will replace the cookie ID as the foundational link between data, since it is the only deterministic data point available on every impression. The URL therefore becomes the foundational glue for driving ROI by enabling analytics, optimization and other core functions of digital advertising.

3.  Context targeting (also known as suitability targeting), replaces audience profiles at scale by identifying in the moment marketing opportunities to align consumer receptivity with the brand message through the analysis of a multitude of data signals connected by the URL.

Context targeting is emerging as the leader in the post-cookie world. 4D is a programmatic Outcomes Engine, designed to reduce the friction across programmatic media, empowering better, faster and smarter marketing decisions. 4D allows advertisers and agencies to define their outcomes and enable ads across the perfect context of all addressable channels.

Check Out The New Martech Cube Podcast. For more such updates follow us on Google News Martech News


Mark Pearlstein, Chief Revenue Officer, Silverbullet
Mark Pearlstein joins Silverbullet after a decade running DoubleVerify as Chief Revenue Officer in New York, driving tremendous value for their clients and shareholders. During his time at DoubleVerify, Mark built a team of 100 sellers globally, seeing revenue growth of over 1500%. Mark is a recognized key influencer and will bring the 4D product to the US market with his trusted and proven expertise.

Previous ArticleNext Article