Facebook: Cookies Are “A Terribly Unreliable Way To Do Marketing”


Erik Johnson, Head of Atlas, speaks at Web Summit 2014 in Dublin, Ireland.

Erik Johnson, Head of Atlas, speaks at Web Summit 2014 in Dublin, Ireland.

“If you gain a young person as a customer, they’ll be your customer for life.”

With that claim, Facebook’s Erik Johnson set the stage for a talk about the challenges of mobile marketing and attribution at Web Summit, a tech and marketing conference underway in Dublin, Ireland. His talk served primarily as an overview of Facebook’s recently launched Atlas ad platform, which the company touts as a cross-device, multi-touch attribution platform that doesn’t rely on cookies (although Facebook’s wording on that has been somewhat confusing to date).

Johnson encouraged attendees on the Marketing Summit stage to think mobile first by understanding how important the web and mobile devices are to young consumers.

“For young people today, being connected is the most important thing in their lives,” Johnson said. “If you talk to them, they’ll say that FOBO is their biggest fear — the fear of being offline.”

But mobile is (obviously) important to more than just young people, and Johnson called it a complicated landscape. Citing third-party research, he said that 60 percent of consumers use at least two devices per day, and 40 percent begin shopping on one device and finish on another.

Three Challenges Of Mobile Marketing

Data like that set the stage for what Johnson described as the three challenges of mobile marketing:

1.) Despite mobile’s growth, marketers say that only about 10 percent of their budgets are being spent on mobile.

Why is that? Johnson says it’s “because we’re using an outdated technology called the cookie.” Cookies, he said, tend to overstate reach and understate the frequency of ads.

2.) Consumers want to see better ads.

Johnson told the audience that cookies average only 59 percent accuracy in demographic targeting, and 21 percent of conversions aren’t captured due to the use of multiple devices.

“It’s a terribly unreliable way to do marketing,” he said. “We don’t know enough about the people we’re serving ads to.”

3.) 94% of sales still happen offline.

That means marketers need a way to show that their online marketing is converting people offline.

The solution, Johnson said, is the kind of people-based marketing that Facebook’s Atlas platform provides. His talk turned advertorial at this point, discussing cross-device, multi-touch attribution and other features of the platform. We’ve covered Facebook’s explanation of Atlas before, so I’ll spare you a repeat of the details.

Stay tuned for more coverage from Web Summit this week.

About The Author

Matt McGee joined Third Door Media as a writer/reporter/editor in September 2008. He served as Editor-In-Chief from January 2013 until his departure in July 2017. He can be found on Twitter at @MattMcGee.



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