As cookies are phased out and new measurement techniques come to the fore, 2024 looks set to be a year defined by disruption, uncertainty and experimentation. 

This promises to be a momentous year in marketing measurement. The signals we use to measure digital marketing are going up in smoke, leading to significant changes in how we understand and implement digital advertising.

Later this year, third-party cookies will be eliminated from the digital advertising ecosystem. Online targeting and measurement is in the process of being rewired to improve user privacy, with a host of new ‘cookieless’ solutions now available for testing. 

But with so many options available the industry appears overwhelmed and in a state of decision paralysis.

This has bred inaction, which, regrettably, is a recurring theme across marketing measurement.

Take, for example, the long-standing issue of how advertisers can account for the full impact of marketing activities. Best practice suggests that marketers should be using a combination of measurement techniques: marketing mix modelling (MMM), experiments and attribution modelling. 

However, research by WARC shows that only a tiny fraction of marketers are conducting holistic measurement, with a significant portion not using any modelling at all. 

A similar story has also unfolded with sustainability measurement. where advertisers are lagging behind best practice.

Most companies have not yet adopted a framework for measuring emissions from advertising. 

But pressure on the status quo is increasing. New standards and regulations around ESG reporting have come into play this year, putting more pressure on companies to take action. 

As advertisers struggle to keep pace with best practice, they must also contend with the growing impact of AI on marketing. 

Almost 60% of organisations indicate they are already integrating generative AI into their marketing efforts. 

This includes measurement, where generative AI tools are being used by companies to generate ‘synthetic data’ about their customers. This data is being used to support decision making in areas including pricing, product testing and customer experience. 

WARC’s latest Future of Measurement report takes a deep dive into the world of synthetic data, as well as the other areas mentioned above: the demise of third-party cookies, hurdles in holistic measurement and how advertisers can close the gap between rhetoric and action in sustainability.

WARC subscribers can read the full report here. If you’re not a subscriber, then fill out your details here to obtain a copy of the sample report.