How to measure the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns without third-party cookies

Natalia Selby

Written by Natalia Selby

Category: Data and analytics Sector: Marketing agencies

Marketing agencies are fighting tooth and nail for their share of the digital advertising boom. Now, more than ever, the need for laser-accurate performance measurement is essential to keep clients happy and on board with your agency.

Digital ad spend is growing at its fastest rate right now. Zenith Media reports that digital advertising across multiple channels will rise to 65.1% of global ad spend in 2024.

With that much budget being ploughed into advertising campaigns, your clients rightly expect to see results. And they want blow-by-blow evidence of those results, too.

As a marketing agency, this puts you under huge pressure to stay on top of campaign performance – not just for reporting purposes, but for strategic and tactical decision-making along the way.

The age-old question of how to measure the effectiveness of digital marketing campaigns is taking on a new urgency.

Preparing for third-party cookies being phased out

On top of this pressure, marketers are also facing the challenge of running their marketing analytics operations without the help of third-party cookies.

You’ve probably heard that as of the end of 2024, Google will end its support for third-party cookies in its Chrome browser.

Once that happens (considering that 63% of web users use the Chrome browser), the final nail in the cookie coffin will be well and truly hammered in.

Significant changes are afoot for agency marketers, who typically rely heavily on third-party cookies for targeting ad campaigns and measurement.

So, what’s the answer to measuring marketing performance without third-party cookies?

Marketing without a third-party cookie means you’ll now have to rely more heavily on first-party data instead.

But this isn’t the big upheaval you may think it is. In fact, switching to first-party data for your marketing measurement promises a number of benefits.

Top 3 benefits of using first-party data for marketing measurement

  1. Firstly, data ownership is much more straightforward with first-party data. The bottom line is that you own it all. Not Google, not Facebook, not any third party. You don’t have to buy it from external sources. It’s all gathered from your own direct-to-customer methods (which we’ll go into more about in a moment).
  2. Secondly, the accuracy of first-party data is much higher than with third-party. Because the data is gathered directly from your own customers, you can be sure it is highly relevant and up-to-date.
  3. And thirdly, your first-party data is unique to you. You won’t have bought it from the same source that all your competitors buy data. This means you have a unique insight into your customers that no one else has.

So, actually, the loss of third-party cookies isn’t such a bad thing. It means we’ll all have to focus on working with first-party data, which actually has many benefits for agency marketers.

How do I collect first-party data, then?

The good thing is you’re probably already collecting a lot of first-party data.

Here are some sources you probably already manage for clients:

  • eNewsletters
  • Online surveys
  • Sign-up or order forms
  • Direct mail
  • SMS messages
  • Their website

All of these provide ample opportunity to collect first-party data to better understand customer behaviour.

But to understand the effectiveness of your marketing activities using first-party data, you need the right measurement tool in your marketing analytics arsenal.

How Mediahawk helps you capitalise on first-party data

For agency marketers, Mediahawk is the secret weapon for gathering and analysing all types of first-party data.

Think of Mediahawk as your marketing campaign data super hub – a central repository where data from all your online and offline client campaigns comes together for analysis.

In a third-party cookie-free world, this kind of data hub will be key to gathering first-party data from multiple online and offline sources.

Here are three ways Mediahawk helps you mitigate the ban of third-party cookies and get the most from your first-party data.

1. All (campaign data) roads lead to Mediahawk

When you run marketing campaigns for clients – whether they’re online or offline – the data they return can all be pushed into Mediahawk. That’s everything from social media advertising and Google Ads to email marketing, print ad campaigns and direct mail. It means Mediahawk becomes your centralised, easy-to-access hub for client campaign data.

This puts a campaign analytics powerhouse in your hands. You can see all your campaigns – both online and offline – side by side, and compare the performance of each. For example, see whether your Bing ads perform better than your Google ads, and then drill into why. All the data is right there, ready and waiting.

2. Get the biggest and best insights from your first-party data

With all this lovely first-party data coming into Mediahawk, you’ll be able to see exactly how your entire marketing mix is working. You can slice and dice the data however you see fit, and draw out whatever insights and analysis helps you most – from total campaign ROI, to more granular insights on specific activities.

3. Yes, you can still see all interactions…

…and full conversion paths, too. Losing third-party data doesn’t mean you’ll have any less insight. With Mediahawk, you can in fact get more information than even Google can provide. Mediahawk’s reports allow you to see exactly how your clients’ customers behave throughout their buying journey – no third-party data required! You’ll have an even clearer picture of every interaction made and which ones have a significant impact on the path to conversion.

Ultimately, we’re here to tell you that the demise of third-party cookies doesn’t spell disaster for marketers and agencies.

Quite the opposite, in fact. It just means digging into your first-party data and finding ways to capitalise on that, instead.

With Mediahawk, your performance measurement challenges are gone. Using first-party data, our software gives you all the analytics insight you need to make strategic and tactical decisions at every stage of your client campaigns.

This blog was first published in May 2022, and updated in November 2023.

Man and woman using laptops.
Preparing for a cookie-less world

Marketing agencies wanting to embrace privacy-first personalisation and accurate campaign reporting rely on Mediahawk call tracking.

  • Quickly detect intent based on a visitor’s interactions.
  • Add context to user behaviour and create accurate customer journey maps with first-party data.
  • Gain deeper insights into how to improve campaign conversion rates.

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