How to Navigate the Future State of Digital Ad Measurement

November 20, 2023

Authored by James Ramelli, VP of Customer Success and Operations

How to Navigate the Future State of Digital Ad Measurement

When it comes to measuring digital ad campaigns, recent developments have upended many years’ worth of conventional wisdom. Between changes to Apple’s mobile app tracking and the ongoing depreciation of third-party tracking cookies, advertisers who have long been accustomed to showing direct return on investment are losing their ability to interpret the signals coming back from their advertising spend.

In early 2024, Google plans to start phasing out the last remnants of cookie-based behavioral tracking on its Chrome browser, and cookies should be rendered by and large inoperable by the end of the year. With this, many companies across the digital advertising ecosystem face the prospect of doing business with far less deterministic data in an environment that has become dependent on it. Some are more prepared than others to navigate the transition.

Performance advertisers – those that have been laser-focused on demonstrating Return On Ad Spend (ROAS) – are in for a challenge. Of all the alternatives to cookie-based behavioral tracking and ad targeting, none are in a position to replace the abundance of data that has been the lifeblood of ROAS measurement solutions.

Instead, performance advertisers need to change their mindset. The coming digital ad landscape will require a cultural shift on the part of all parties involved, and that means looking past ROAS measurement methodologies that have been historically successful.

Some tech providers are proposing alternative 1:1 IDs, powered by opt-in data or some other form of workaround. Those considering this route should ask themselves: Is the solution that seems promising in January of 2024 likely to remain viable through 2025? The danger of loopholes is that they sometimes close.

A Shift in Mindset: Looking Beyond ROAS

First and foremost, advertisers need to embrace the reality that the digital ad landscape is evolving rapidly, and past methods may not be applicable. Instead of relying solely on direct ROAS calculations, advertisers should broaden their horizons and explore alternative metrics and KPIs that can offer a more comprehensive view of their campaigns’ effectiveness.

As part of this initiative, advertisers should explore first-party data, contextual advertising, and privacy-friendly tracking methods as new approaches for optimizing the effectiveness of their ad spend. A robust set of first-party data allows advertisers to maintain a degree of control and personalization within their campaigns.

Contextual advertising, which targets users based on the content they are viewing rather than individual user profiles, is an essential approach that advertisers should be testing in advance of 2024. Contextual placement respects user privacy while still delivering relevant ads to the right audience according to ideas and content rather than audience behavior.

The demise of third-party tracking cookies represents a pivotal moment in the industry. To thrive in this new era, performance advertisers must adapt, experiment, and embrace a cultural shift that extends beyond traditional ROI metrics. The future of digital advertising is uncertain, but those who are proactive and willing to embrace change will be best positioned to navigate the evolving landscape successfully. The advertisers that are already well underway in their testing, learning, and adapting are the ones that will flourish in the transitional year ahead.

Go back