Measuring, Analyzing, and Understanding Attribution

Measuring, Analyzing, and Understanding Attribution

Les points clés

Digital advertising is changing in the face of the decline of third-party cookies, driven by privacy concerns and regulations such as the GDPR. However, cookie-based attribution remains crucial, stimulating the exploration of alternatives like first-party data and contextual targeting. This article explores the rise of artificial intelligence, redefining advertising strategies for dynamic adaptation. The transition to transparent and privacy-friendly methods remains at the heart of this rapid evolution.


In the dynamic digital advertising landscape, a significant change is taking place: the transition from traditional cookie-based targeting and analysis methods to innovative cookie-free strategies.

This transition marks a new and complex era for marketing professionals, advertisers, and publishers, facing the need to adapt to a constantly changing environment. As third-party cookies, long a mainstay of online advertising, face increasing obsolescence due to privacy concerns and strict regulations such as the GDPR, the industry is actively looking for viable alternatives.

The aim here is to provide a thorough and informed analysis of how advertising measurement, analysis, and attribution adapt and evolve in these two worlds:

  • The one who continues to rely on cookies
  • the one who emancipates himself from it.

We will explore the implications of these changes, examining how new cookie-free methods can not only respect user privacy but also offer new opportunities for engagement and efficiency. This analysis aims to equip players in the field with the knowledge and strategies needed to successfully navigate this changing advertising landscape.

Measurement and analysis with cookies

Use of third party cookies for measurement

The use of third party cookies in the context of advertising measurement and analysis has long been a standard method for evaluating the effectiveness of online advertising campaigns. These cookies, while not an integral part of the site visited by the user, provide essential information about the behaviors, preferences, and reactions of users to advertisements.

Performance measurement and tracking:

  • Third-party cookies are used to track the actions of users after they have been exposed to an advertisement. This includes tracking clicks, visits to the advertiser's site, and ultimately, conversions. This data is crucial for understanding the effectiveness of a specific advertising campaign.
  • Platforms like Google Analytics use cookies to gather data about how users interact with a site, providing insights into the user journey and the effectiveness of various advertising channels.


  • Third-party cookies play a key role in Retargeting, allowing advertisers to represent their ads to users who visited their site but did not take the desired action. This technique aims to increase conversion rates by targeting users who are already interested.

Customizing campaigns:

  • By collecting data on user preferences and behaviors, third-party cookies allow advertisers to personalize their campaigns for specific audience segments, increasing the relevance and effectiveness of their ads.

Advantages and limitations

     + Advantages:

  • Detailed measurement: The ability to track the user journey and interaction with ads in detail allows accurate analysis of campaign performance.
  • Refined Targeting: Information collected via third-party cookies facilitates more accurate targeting and better audience segmentation.

      - Limitations:

  • Privacy issues: Data collection via third-party cookies raises privacy concerns, pushing regulators and users to demand more transparency and control.
  • Technological Dependency: With the evolution of browsers and the increase in the use of ad blockers, dependence on third-party cookies is becoming a risk for advertising strategies.
  • Regulations and Restrictions: Regulations such as the GDPR and the CCPA impose restrictions on the use of third-party cookies, requiring that measurement and analysis practices be adapted.

While third-party cookies have been a powerful tool for advertising measurement and analysis, their future is uncertain due to growing privacy concerns and technological change. This situation encourages the industry to explore more privacy-friendly alternatives for advertising measurement and tracking.

Attribution with cookies

Concept ofattribution based on cookies

In the world of online advertising, attribution plays a crucial role in helping advertisers understand and assess the effectiveness of their campaigns. In particular, cookie-based attribution allows advertisers to track the consumer journey through various touchpoints and advertising channels. This method relies on the use of third-party cookies to record user interactions with ads, thus offering a global view of their journey, from the first impression to the final conversion.

With this data, advertisers can determine which specific channels and messages led to desired actions, such as a purchase or a signup. This allows for a more efficient allocation of the advertising budget by focusing on the most efficient channels.

Cookie-based attribution also helps to understand the optimal frequency and sequence of advertising messages to maximize engagement and conversions.

Current challenges of cookie-based attribution

However, this attribution method faces several significant challenges in the current digital advertising landscape:

Accuracy of attribution:

  • With the increasing use of multiple devices by consumers, attributing a conversion to a specific channel can become complex and sometimes inaccurate. Third-party cookies are not always effective in tracking users across devices and platforms.

Regulatory compliance:

  • Regulations such as GDPR and CCPA impose strict restrictions on the collection and use of users' personal data, including data collected by third-party cookies. This requires advertisers to obtain explicit consent for cookie tracking, making attribution more complex and limited.

Dependence on cookies and alternative solutions:

  • Faced with the gradual removal of third-party cookies by major browsers and the increased use of ad blockers, the reliability of cookie-based attribution is being questioned. This has led advertisers to explore alternative attribution methods that don't rely on cookies, such as contextual targeting and the use of first-party data.

In conclusion, while cookie-based attribution has long been a mainstay of advertising measurement, it faces increasing challenges in terms of accuracy and regulatory compliance. These challenges highlight the need for advertisers to adopt attribution strategies that are more flexible and in line with current consumer expectations and data protection regulations.

Approaches without cookies

Adoption of new methodologies

Faced with the reduction of dependence on third-party cookies, the advertising industry is turning to alternative methods for measurement, analysis, and attribution. These new approaches seek to maintain efficiency while respecting user privacy, thus aligning with current consumer expectations and data regulations.

Analysis based on first-party and contextual data:

  • Advertising analysis and measurement focus on the use of first-party data, collected directly and with consent. This data makes it possible to understand the behavior and preferences of users without encroaching on their privacy. At the same time, contextual analysis, which assesses the environment in which ads are placed, offers a different perspective for measuring the effectiveness of campaigns without tracking individual users.

Multi-touch attribution without cookies:

  • Moving away from cookies, attribution methods are evolving towards more complex multi-touch models. These models seek to attribute credit to different marketing touchpoints based on user interactions and commitments, rather than on the direct tracking of cookies.

Benefits of cookieless methods

Measurement, analysis, and attribution methods without cookies offer several key benefits:

Compliance with data protection regulations:

  • Based on data obtained in a transparent and compliant manner, these methods comply with strict regulations such as RGPD, strengthening the trust of users.

Respect for the privacy of users:

  • The elimination of tracking based on third-party cookies significantly improves the privacy of users, thus responding to a growing concern of modern consumers.

More holistic measurement and analysis:

  • By focusing on an overview of user interactions and contextual performance, these methods provide a more comprehensive and balanced understanding of the effectiveness of advertising campaigns.

As the advertising landscape continues to evolve, these cookie-less approaches to measurement, analysis, and attribution represent innovative solutions that are in line with new market realities. They offer a promising path to navigate a post-cookie world, with an emphasis on privacy and more in-depth and meaningful analytics.

Conclusion: the future of measurement and analysis

As the world of digital advertising evolves, emerging trends and innovations are playing a crucial role in redefining how measurement, analysis, and attribution are being redefined. The future in a post-cookie world promises significant changes, bringing both challenges and opportunities for marketing professionals.

What are the emerging trends and innovations:

Artificial intelligence and machine learning:

  • The future of digital advertising will see increased adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning. These technologies allow for more sophisticated analyses and accurate predictions about consumer behavior, by offering advanced personalization without relying on traditional cookies.

Advanced attribution technologies:

  • The future will see the emergence of more advanced attribution solutions that can provide detailed insights into the effectiveness of different marketing tactics. These systems will be able to integrate data from multiple sources, including offline interactions, for a comprehensive view of the consumer journey.

Compliance and privacy:

  • Compliance with data protection regulations will remain a priority. The industry will move towards solutions that ensure user privacy, while providing actionable data for advertisers.

Future perspectives

In a post-cookie world, we can anticipate a transition to measurement and analysis methods that value transparency, privacy, and technological innovation.

Reduced dependence on cookies:

  • The industry will increasingly move away from third-party cookies in favor of first-party data and contextual targeting, thus adapting to new consumer expectations and regulations.

Data-driven personalization:

  • Personalization will remain at the core of advertising strategies, but it will be fuelled by data obtained in a more ethical and transparent manner.

Holistic and integrated measures:

  • Measurements and analytics will become more holistic, integrating data from a variety of sources to create a comprehensive understanding of campaign effectiveness.

Finally, the future of measurement, analysis, and attribution in digital advertising promises to be rich in change and innovation. Marketers need to stay at the forefront of these developments to take full advantage of the tools and data available, while maintaining high standards of privacy and regulatory compliance.

Find the Qwarry solution for explore the semantic impact of your advertising campaigns.

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