From the iOS 14.5 update to the privacy shield, there have recently been plenty of changes to how data is collected from users. While everyone has probably been a bit annoyed at one point or another by the cookie banner, what do these changes mean for performance marketing and how advertisers track their spending? Let’s take a closer look.
What has changed?
With the changes to current web tracking due to GDPR, privacy shield, and other factors, many websites had to change the way they integrate their cookie banners. Third-party cookies do not start tracking the entering session until the user has given their consent by accepting marketing or statistical cookies. However, they are also allowed to choose only “essential” cookies. These represent the needed cookies to make a website work.
With the implementation of these changes, we have seen a decrease in the sessions we are able to track by 20%. That means we cannot see what users looked at, what they bought, what channel they came from, or whether they spent money during that session.
Impact on performance marketing
It is easy to see that this would have ramifications for performance marketing. Oriented around data, this type of marketing is valuable for its ability to provide advertisers with an understanding of who clicked an ad, at what time, where, when, and whether or not they took action (buy, download, subscribe) at the destination provided.
Due to the changes happening, this has been harder to track on the current third-party cookie setups widely used. Facebook has been very outspoken about this and has lamented that when it is harder for businesses to see where their advertising dollars are going, they are, understandably, going to spend less.
This is true, and based on current trends — it is safe to say that performance marketing will probably never be as transparent as it has been in the past. The fact is that small and medium businesses will have to accept that not everything can be tracked. There are technical solutions, but they come with a higher investment upfront.
Because it is harder to link a transaction to a campaign, ad group, or keyword, it is more important than ever to look at the bigger picture and be aware of any changes being made to specific marketing channels. Prior to investment, it is advisable to narrow down one essential aspect you want to track to reflect an important truth for your company. Keep looking at the same KPIs, but keep in mind that there would be a discrepancy of up to 20%.
Focus on dashboard integration
Another important way to mitigate the uncertainty caused by this situation is to consolidate your dashboards. Suppose you’re currently looking at marketing dashboards based on individual channels — Facebook, Google Ads, Snapchat, etc. In that case, the first thing you will need to do is integrate an overall e-commerce or website dashboard that shows you the whole picture. You want to be able to see the overall numbers of transactions per day, items bought, refunds, etc., all in one place. That will give you a better idea of overall performance and where money was made.
By looking at the overall performance and being aware of what changes you have made in your performance marketing channels— you can see correlations.
Ultimately, there may be new challenges to contend with, but it is certainly still possible to see where the needle is moving and what is working or isn’t. Although certain measurements are now missing, it is simply a matter of putting in the time and effort to find that one data source providing the truth you need. If you’d like to discuss the best options for making the most of your marketing budget, please don’t hesitate to get in touch and find out more about the various solutions we can offer.