Hitmetrix - User behavior analytics & recording

3 Steps to Contextual Targeting Success to Prepare for the Cookie-Free World in 2024

cookie-free world

The demise of third-party cookies has been a long time coming, but with every delay – including the latest postponing of the phase-out to 2024 – it begins to feel that the end has no deadline. But make no mistake: a cookie-free world is coming.

Brands that anticipated this, spurred in large part by Apple’s “Do Not Track Me” rules, have prepared by looking for a comparable or superior alternative. Many have found contextual targeting, which aligns ads based on video content instead of viewers’ digital history. According to Integral Ad Science, contextual ads increase memorability by 40%, receptivity by 80%, and favorability by 93%.

Brands aren’t necessarily aware of how to collect and use this information, however. They may have difficulty determining which insights matter most. Instead of allocating resources toward the solution, brands should instead focus on their core competency – producing great products and services. Additionally, they should partner with a video platform that can transform disparate data into insights through innovative methodologies. A good partner will be able to draw upon those methodologies to help guide the right approach throughout the life of a campaign. Also, they will provide additional guidance once it has concluded.

Start by building personas

Audiences are three-dimensional. They have a wide range of likes and dislikes. They should therefore be evaluated in a way that matches their complexity. To that end, brands can achieve contextual targeting success by relying on a video platform that creates personas based on the topics most aligned with the brand and/or campaign. This helps advertisers broaden the scope of their targeting while maintaining the same level of precision.

Topics may include both broad categories (ex: sports, entertainment, cooking, etc.) and specific categories (ex: football, video games, sous vide cooking). Additionally, any overlapping (ex: football or cooking video games). The audiences associated with these topics are then defined. Also, statistical methods make it possible to identify any other content that’s consumed by the same audiences. Even if there are no apparent direct links.

For example, our research shows that electric car buyers are likely to watch automotive content. But they also have shown an interest in the environment, sports, and business, among other topics. This information empowers EV automakers to advertise across multiple channels and reach more potential buyers. 

Deploy questionnaires to develop stronger messages 

After building out their personas, brands need a contextual targeting partner that can dig a little deeper when analyzing audiences. Consider the apparel company that decides to reinvent itself by introducing a program to recycle worn textiles. As one of the world’s leading sources of industrial water pollution and a major contributor to landfills, textiles present a distinct environmental challenge. Any company that can do its part to lessen the impact may appeal to environmentally conscious consumers. But how can brands ensure their message reaches those with whom it will resonate most?

By working with a video partner that also deploys questionnaires, brands can better identify consumers’ priority elements when shopping for new clothes and reveal their perceptions/attitudes toward the apparel company’s new initiative. And while third-party cookies are on their way out to make way for a cookie-free world, first-party data is still a valuable tool. It helps determine the content recently viewed by consumers. This analysis will help define two or three personas (connecting attitudes with online behaviors). Additionally, it allows brands to build contextual strategies that align with each persona – and in turn, develop stronger messages.

Consider all aspects associated with the brand

No contextual targeting strategy would be complete without considering other aspects associated with the brand, such as geography and duration. The apparel company example may only apply to a specific market if the organization does not have the resources to recycle used textiles in all locations. There may be budget constraints or other limitations that impact the length of the campaign.

If it is successful, the brand may wish to extend the campaign to reinforce its message and reach more consumers. At the very least, the brand will learn what works and what doesn’t. This allows them to pivot quickly to focus on the message that achieves the greatest value. And as its resources increase internationally, the company can use what it learned from the first campaign to inform how and when to approach additional markets.

Develop stronger and more meaningful campaigns

The transition to a cookie-free world may seem like an unfortunate circumstance for brands that relied on this data. But it was both a necessary and beneficial development in the world of advertising. First and foremost, Deloitte research found that consumers most frequently align trustworthiness (83%), integrity (79%), and honesty (77%) with their favorite brands, and none of these factors can be achieved with the surreptitious nature of third-party cookies.

Now that cookies are being phased out and we’re looking at a cookie-free world, brands can instead turn to a video partner. A partner that empowers their promotions and contextually targets consumers with valuable insights. A truly effective video partner can provide the necessary insights to build personas, develop questionnaires that inform and guide the campaign, and consider all aspects associated with the brand. This will result in a stronger and more meaningful campaign. One that resonates with viewers without using third-party cookies and other gimmicks.

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