Blog Post

Preparing for the Cookieless Future – Future-Proof Tactic 2: Navigate Walled Gardens

06/14/2022 - Sierra Ducey

The cookieless future is on its way, and brands are being forced to rethink how they gather data to build their advertising strategies.

To find advertising success in the future, advertisers will have to find new ways to gather consumer data, reimagine their targeting techniques, and rely on marketing solutions that don’t rely on third-party cookies. The good news is that, once they do, the opportunities for reaching their target audiences will be endless and are poised to offer even better customer experiences than before.

But this shift won’t be easy. The fact that we’ve seen multiple delays to the end of third-party cookies hasn’t helped the matter, either. If the potential of yet another reprieve is possible, it’s easy to put alternatives on the back burner. It has caused a false sense of security that maintaining the status quo is OK for now and that moving away from cookies doesn’t need to be a priority. But eventually, the time will come, and third-party targeting capabilities will be a thing of the past.

Interested in learning more about preparing for the depreciation of third-party cookies? Download our guide “How to Prepare for the Cookieless Future” here.

Preparing for the challenges that we’re up against now will only put brands in a position to succeed moving forward, giving them a leg up against the competition. One of the biggest areas of opportunity is positioning your brand strategically within walled gardens.

Overcoming Walled Gardens

A walled garden is a closed platform or ecosystem where all operations are controlled by the platform operator. This operator doesn’t openly share information or technology with third parties — not currently, at least — creating a “wall” around its network and data. Where do these most often exist? Major publishers like Apple, Facebook, Google, and Amazon.

These publishers hold a lot of power in the advertising industry. In fact, they get almost 70% of ad revenue. That said, walled gardens put advertisers in a tricky position. Because these sites are rich with consumer activity, they lend themselves to great targeting and advertising benefits. However, with this convenience, there also comes a lack of control. In these environments, advertisers give up their own data and enter into a system that you hardly get any back from in return. They have to rely on campaign performance based on a database they don’t have full insight into.

That’s not to say advertisers shouldn’t take advantage of them. Consumers spend countless hours within these systems. Pile on the advantage of not being tied down to third-party cookies, and walled gardens create a great opportunity. It’s just important to keep in the back of your mind that with this convenience comes a lack of control, so it’s important not to put all your eggs in one basket.

The advantages of walled gardens are many, but access to consumer insights tops the list. Should owners keep these insights to themselves, the competitive advantage would be astronomical. But money can be made selling data, and consolidating digital spend on these major platforms could help advertisers gain access to their consumer insights — that is, if they take the right steps. This starts with:

1. Making good use of behavioral data

Walled gardens are “walled” for a reason: to protect information. Once you gain access, you can gather insights on everything from what links consumers click to actions they complete. You can even learn how long consumers “dwell” on a given page. If these platform operators are willing to share this rich behavioral data, advertisers can better understand the habits and whims of their target customers.

2. Leveraging cross-device attribution and tracking capabilities

One of the biggest benefits of working within walled gardens is that they require a form of sign-on or log-on from the consumer. This makes it easier for brands to track and engage consumers across devices. For example, consumers use the same login information for their Facebook account on their iPhone as their desktop or the same Amazon account across their tablet, mobile, and in-home smart speaker.

In a world in which today’s consumers use multiple platforms, this is a major benefit for tracking attributable action cross-device. Basically, advertisers can attribute a specific conversion to engagements across devices by looking at the relevant omnichannel analytics. This cross-device attribution not only enhances tracking capabilities but gives you a more in-depth view of the twists and turns on the path to purchase. Though no two people are alike, the insights are still incredibly valuable and granular, as they allow you to see your advertising ROI by medium.

3. Reviewing the platform’s security measures

Walled gardens are only as secure as the operators allow. When deciding to invest within a walled-garden publisher, ensure that security is a priority. Working with an agnostic partner like Digilant enables advertisers to get an unbiased analysis of the privacy, security, and other features of operators and their walled gardens.

4. Recognizing that walled gardens aren’t created equal

No two walled gardens are alike. They have different audience sizes, different functionalities, and different user experiences. In turn, they capture insights about different audiences, employ different machine learning algorithms, and offer different benefits and conversion metrics. They also have different sets and quantities of data. As mentioned already, advertisers will lose a certain degree of control when deciding to work within a walled garden, so ensure that you do proper research to understand whether a given operator is right for your brand.

Advertisers everywhere are navigating how to best work with walled garden publishers as they look for alternatives to third-party cookies. Get in touch with the Digilant team today to learn more about navigating the cookieless future and reshaping your advertising strategies to do it well.

To learn more, download our whitepaper, “How to Prepare for the Cookieless Future,” here. And learn more about future-proof cookieless solutions in our next blog post covering the resurgence of contextual targeting.  


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