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The Shift To a Cookie-less Future of Advertising

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By Peter Barry, Regional Director, ANZ & Head of Audience, APAC
October 29, 2020

We have now entered the test and learn phase of preparing for a cookie-less future, which descends upon the adtech world in early 2022.

Google’s phase-out of third-party cookies running on the Chrome browser, will herald a new way for advertisers to reach the right audiences.

As we rush towards that deadline, and prepare for a life without cookies, it’s time for advertisers to consider how to bridge to a new digital approach to data management and activation. Safari and Firefox have already phased out third-party cookies. Browser-based tracking is on the way out.

Publishers, who own first-party data, are in a brilliant position to innovate, and take centre stage in providing marketers with compliant options that allow them to effectively engage with audiences.

In the near future, savvy publishers will provide enriched data signals to advertisers. Those publishers are experimenting with new software systems that will inevitably benefit their bottom line in the next few years.

Both publishers and advertisers realise the pursuit of innovation now will result in a rosier future in the next few years. We are now seeing reports of marketers in the US trialing a mix of contextual and deterministic models to enhance campaign performance. The race is on to establish a new system for trading digital media.

At PubMatic, we have signed many publishers across the Asia-Pacific region to our Identity Hub solution, as they move to bolster the value of their advertising inventory.

In the absence or decrease of third-party cookies, media buyers using Identity Hub are able to recognise a publisher’s audience and bid more on its inventory through multiple ID’s supported for each ad impression.

For sure, Google will continue to stake out a strong position in the digital media market. However, walled gardens are not champions of transparency and data privacy. That’s why Google’s Privacy Sandbox set of solutions, while worthy in parts, is not the nirvana for players seeking an open web approach to digital identity.

We need to create a sandbox for the open web. We also need to avoid the creation of more walled gardens, and a fragmented ecosystem.

Every major publisher has been working on a combination of publisher first-party data, signed on users, and standardised Universal IDs. We are likely to see a mixed set of solutions being adopted.

If the digital ID in online advertising is a representative token of the consumer, the right set of solutions need to help with better understanding the interest and behaviours of each consumer. That can best happen with controlled data enrichment via publisher first party data.

What do advertisers want? They would like a standardized, privacy-compliant solution without relying on a huge company with its own motivations. This means that companies in the open web are going to be expected to adopt standards dictated by advertisers, not just Google.

There are many other non-browser elements, such as first-party data, and alternative identity solutions, such as LiveRamp ATS and ID5’s Universal ID, that are emerging.

We should encourage publishers to start testing, collecting and sharing signals such as contextual data that can be used as a proxy for audience targeting.

Publisher first-party data consortiums that offer server-side targeting are also a realistic future element in our ecosystem.

Contextual targeting that comes from much richer content tagging – the way YouTube currency operates – is also a very valuable addition to targeting options. Contextual targeting also doesn’t need to rely on the browser at all and is inherently privacy safe.

In this new landscape of digital marketing, advertisers need to dive in to the new open web opportunity, and start to allocate a small portion of their budget to finding the best approach. Fortune will favour the brave.

Originally published in AdNews