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Home > Uncategorized  > The Future of Digital Marketing Without Cookies

Along with the news of an impending pandemic, the beginning of 2020 brought forth a new age for the marketing industry – a cookie-less future. Google announced its plan to fully remove third-party cookies from its Chrome browser by the year 2022. Chrome accounts for 65% of global browser share.  Now, Apple is preparing for IDFA crackdown for early spring 2021. Starting with iOS 14, the IDFA setting will be explicitly opt-in for every app — and the overwhelming majority of consumers are expected to leave it turned it off.

It is important to note that third-party cookies and mobile ad IDs are identifiers that have formed the basis of how digital marketing has been executed over the last 20 years allowing marketers to harness this data to identify and target consumers. Marketers also utilize these cookies to measure the performance or impact of digital advertising. Upon the announcement of the deprecation of third-party cookies first by Safari and Firefox, marketers are now concerned about what will happen once these identifiers are eliminated for good. Planning for the end of third-party cookies has become a priority for businesses who have depended on third party data to connect with their target audience.

How Marketers are planning for a future?

With the third-party cookie set to become obsolete in the next year, and Apple’s pullback on the mobile identifier for advertisers (IDFA), the industry is forced to re-evaluate and adapt.

Some believe when third-party cookies are gone, the concentration of ad targeting will shift towards walled gardens that thrive on collecting robust first party data.  Think Facebook and Google where you’re using a login to navigate, and all your activity is stored under terms of service when you set up your account.

This disrupts the programmatic world which typically leverage cookies to identify, group and target audiences — and to report on behaviors and conversions.  So, does this mean marketers will have to buy direct from publishers just to reach the target audience they need?  Not exactly, most marketers are beginning to use first party (addressable) data to build ID graphs.

Addressability, at the root level, refers to the ability to associate a unique identifier with a given user, and then build audience segments on top of those efforts. Audience addressability is about being able to identify each consumer as an individual with a full grasp of how they use their different devices and how they engage across channels and domains. It’s this granular level of understanding that enables advertisers to achieve superior measurement and more targeted ad experiences.

Companies are making use of Customer Data Platforms that allow them to import and organize customer data from multiple sources.  This data can be combined to form audiences and segments, which Publishers will share as part of the inventory sold through DSPs in a co-op data partnership to share anonymized IDs through unified frameworks.

A universal ID is an identifier used by everyone (Supply Side and Demand Side platforms) for identification and targeting. This removes the need for the “handshake” or third-party cookie sync that happens when a user moves from one domain to another and so, therefore, limits the amount of lost information that occurs as more and more third-party cookie-defeating updates roll out.

  • The good thing about these universal ID solutions is they create what is essentially a first-party cookie that’s the same among all partners included in the solution—it provides one identifier across all partners.
  • The bad thing about these universal ID solutions is that they still only work within the publishers and platforms that have joined up—they will not work for users that cross into the walled gardens of Facebook or Google. In essence, these new universal ID solutions are each a new walled garden; the only difference is that the variance of players in each have a much larger inventory across the web. Therefore, the reach you can get with a universal ID from a platform like the Trade Desk can actually be quite significant given its wide array of partnerships with publishers and DSPs.

A Cookie-less Future

Contextual targeting is one strategy that has been utilized in the past since it does not require any specific knowledge of the consumer as it is more about what is visible on a webpage. For example, if a person visits a website about tennis, the ads that would appear would be concerning that topic. Marketers will use this as an opportunity to populate an ad that is relevant to the information on the specific webpage without knowing anything about the user. This is considered a reasonable way to overcome some of the challenges that come with addressability, despite it not performing as well as addressable solutions.

No single solution will solve all existing challenges with the elimination of third-party cookies. Applying solutions that already exist is a concept that many brands should take into consideration before waiting for the solutions to come from the open ecosystem or working groups.

Frontline Digital has chosen partners who have been able to directly integrate multiple technologies together through our platform in a way that none other has.  We are already identifying our audience outside of cookies, and more importantly, outside of Apple’s IDFA, so after iOS 14 rolls out, we’re ahead of the game.

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