It is a frustrating but necessary truth to face. Despite having heavily invested in technology and models to help understand which channels are driving which sales, using the same methods will soon be impossible.

The information that attribution models of the past gives access to is essential when making budget decisions that influence strategy.

Attribution models rely on cookies in order to function. Having the ability to identify and follow a user throughout their buying journey is of paramount importance in the process. Without cookies, the information that marketers have become used to being able to access is no longer possible to obtain.

It’s strange to think that when third-party cookies have all disappeared from Chrome, the majority of users will be surfing the internet anonymously. Users will either be a part of this group, or they will be authenticated, meaning advertisers will still have the ability to identify them.

So, how can attribution continue to be offered?

It is a good idea to look at different categories of measurement to allow planning and optimisation.

Available as media mix or econometric modelling, analog measurement has been available to advertisers for decades. It helps understand the relationship between media channels and the outcomes that marketers are working toward.

Just like attribution modelling, it can measure the impact of several channels simultaneously. This is essential for marketers trying to understand how each channel affects business.

However, econometric modelling uses historical data to predict future outcomes, which means those using it must wait until after a campaign has finished, as opposed to in real-time as they usually would. 

Running econometric modelling can also be expensive, both time and money-wise. This is due to the fact that it requires a specialist skill set that few advertisers and agencies have in-house. If the test fails to be properly designed, and therefore isn’t properly conducted, then it is unlikely to provide helpful results. However, if you do have time, data and money, econometric models could be a good solution to rely on in a cookieless world.

Browser solutions

Some browsers have announced plans to release digital attribution solutions. Similar to other browser proposals that address the changes that will come with cookie depreciation, it seems that most data processing will move to user’s devices.

Click-through attribution seems to be a popular option. Click-through conversion APIs will store a click event in the user’s browser for specific, individual advertiser domains. If the user then purchases on the advertiser’s site, the browser will send an attribution event to a measurement service.

The basic learning is, if you desire precision tracking for online users, you will be required to use a non-cookie based method. All the big sites such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter do not provide them.

There’s no doubt that the industry is going to change a lot over the next few years. However, our industry has been proven to be forward-thinking and incredibly savvy, so there’s also no doubt that we will overcome these challenges too.