Fitbit, a manufacturer of products like fitness trackers and smart watches, started to prepare for the forthcoming demise of online cookies with a campaign that leveraged new ways of identifying audiences.

LiveRamp, the data connectivity firm, was one of the companies involved in this program, which also included Index Exchange, the supply-side platform.

“Fitbit, working with their media agency, ran a major test campaign targeting high-value customers,” Scott Howe, LiveRamp’s CEO, explained on a quarterly earnings call with investors. (For more, read WARC’s in-depth report: How an innovative campaign helped Fitbit prepare for a digital future without cookies.)

And this initiative, he reported, aimed to demonstrate the “power and value of advertising without cookies”, which is a pressing task for marketers.

Why? Because internet browsers like Google’s Chrome, Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox are at various stages of phasing out these digital tracking tools.

Collectively, these offerings control the vast majority of the US browser category, meaning the decision to halt the use of cookies is pushing marketers to find new ways of identifying audiences.

Fitbit’s campaign, based around Father’s Day, exposed separate consumer groups to different stimuli as it sought to prove out the value of cookie-free advertising.

One cohort was targeted using cookies, and another was engaged using new ways of authenticating audiences who have set permissions for using their data.

The latter audience could be reached through automated bidding on advertising when they arrived at a publisher website that was included in the campaign.

Howe estimated that LiveRamp can reach 90% of addressable audiences – split out in ways that include groups like “sports enthusiasts” and “home seekers” – at present via the 125 publishers it has signed on as partners.

“That is exactly what advertisers want,” he said. “And then it’s really a question of how much volume can we deliver.”

And the results for Fitbit, he reported, “were pretty incredible”, as the new approach to audience identification yielded a return on adspend that was twice as high as generated by cookies.

The cookie-free approach also outperformed the in terms of average order value and cost per page view, suggesting that authenticated traffic “works better than cookies,” Howe said.

Sourced from WARC