• The advertising industry is undergoing a fundamental shift which will break some of the critical marketing capabilities that organizations rely on. The deprecation of the third-party cookie jeopardizes the ability to reach target audiences, measure impact across tactics and channels, and personalize and connect experiences across the consumer journey.

    Managing these upcoming changes is critical for customer-centric organizations. Of course, change management is never simple, and navigating to a post-cookie world is made more difficult because most organizations have data silos, organizational silos, analytics and measurement gaps, and misaligned enterprise technology architectures. Thus, solving organizational gaps in conjunction with the problems to be faced in a post-cookie world is essential for the future. 

    Align on the importance of identity

    Organizations must prepare for the impact of a post-cookie world, but more importantly, plan for the future with a focus on mastering identity. This is not a small project or solitary task. Identity is the process of consistently and accurately recognizing an individual, place, or household across online and offline touch points and devices into a holistic profile. If cookies—one of the most commonly used identifiers—are no longer available, the ability to connect data and recognize consumers becomes more difficult. 

    While this change originates in the advertising ecosystem, the ripple effects across an organization are infinite. For example, if media buyers are no longer able to reach target audiences, performance suffers and can eventually affect market position relative to competitors that have prepared for a post-cookie world by building their own identity infrastructure. 

    Identity resolution capabilities support the ability to connect and improve data validity for measurement and analytics, laying the foundation for a single unified enterprise architecture available for cross-team use. Thus, organizational alignment is critical to the goal of achieving customer centricity through building a common data source. An enterprise identity strategy is the linchpin for enabling scalable and effective consumer experiences for all functions within an organization.

    Identity strategy is essential to developing a customer-centric organization

    The first step organizations must take is to develop a cohesive, cross-functional understanding of identity and align on a strategy. A standardized and centralized view of the customer—powered by connected data and technology—is critical for future success. A strong identity strategy aligns enterprise resources around the consumer and enables better, more consistent engagement. Defining an enterprise identity strategy is of the highest priority. 

    Once an organization has embraced the challenge and defined their enterprise identity strategy, it is critical to begin developing partnerships to access consumer data in a safe, secure, and privacy-centric manner. Prioritizing the development of your own first-party identity graph with known and anonymous first-party data is the foundation for the future. Second, brands must expand and scale their understanding of their consumers with second- and third-party data relationships. Trusted data sources and authenticated data collection are critical for accurate and efficient marketing and creating positive, memorable consumer experiences. 

    This is not a new challenge—it has only become more acute. In the lead up to the deprecation of third-party cookies come January 2022, we as an industry should be hopeful. The changes being enforced are positive for the future of advertising, marketing, and the consumer experience. However, we must be mindful that the road ahead will not be easy. Every organization, partner, and provider affected should be embracing this as an opportunity for transformation. 


    Derek Baker is a Partner and CMO Advisory leader at PwC, where he works closely with marketing leaders on digital and marketing transformation initiatives. 

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