A Reality Check for the Post-Cookie World

Third-party Cookie graphic

By Kimber Robbins, Chief Product Officer at Kinesso

The advertising industry is quite rightly taking a positive view of third-party cookie deprecation: “Cookies were never that great anyway,” is the key message. “Here’s an opportunity to really get to know audiences. We can find a better solution.”

Of course, all these statements are true. But there’s also a danger of this narrative lulling the industry into a false sense of security; a feeling that there’s no need to act and it will all work out just fine.

It’s time for a reality check. Cookies were never designed to do everything we’ve asked of them but the industry still relies heavily on the information they provide for marketing reach and measurement.

Unless decisive action is taken to close the huge gap cookie deprecation will leave in the ecosystem, brands will find themselves with very little understanding of who their audiences are and whether or not they’re reaching them.

Filling the hole left by third-party cookies and allowing brands to connect with people in a consistent, privacy-safe way is going to take a gargantuan effort. More importantly, it’s going to take a level of collaboration the industry has never seen before.

So, it’s time to focus our efforts on forming strong partnerships across a connected ecosystem that will enable brands to successfully plan, execute, and measure audience interactions as they navigate a cookieless future.

The Myth of the Magic Solution

It’s tempting to think one single identifier might emerge to replace the third-party cookie but it’s highly unlikely. While we may end up with lots of different solutions doing similar things, no one solution will have all the identifiers necessary to do it all.

Across the open web, each identity solution provider will have different pieces of information to use as match keys.

One provider might have a user’s personal email address, for instance, while another may have their business email address. These providers need to work together to use multiple identifiers, maximize match rates and gain a better understanding of brand audiences.

And when it comes to the walled gardens, they will always want to use their own identifiers. We’re not just talking about the traditional players such as Google and Amazon but also emerging walled gardens such as NBCUnified. There’s a limit to the information that can be pushed into and out of these platforms, so a single identifier will simply never work across the entire ecosystem.

Build and Partner, Then Partner Some More

There are some really interesting identity solutions currently emerging in the market. The key is to make sure these solutions can work with all available identifiers to create a connected ecosystem that will support brands in reaching the right people.

At Kinesso, we have our own flexible identity solution that focuses on precise and increased audience reach across the entire marketing portfolio.

But we also partner with providers that have complementary solutions and there are so many different aspects of identity to consider. The two major buckets are individual-based solutions, where we aim to talk to specific people and aggregate solutions where we’re looking to reach a group or cohort.

But these two categories can be broken down much further. Within the deterministic first-party space, for instance, there are some promising open-source initiatives such as SharedID from Prebid and Unified ID 2.0 from The Trade Desk.

There are also providers such as Lotame doing great work connecting the dots with probabilistic solutions. With no single answer to the identity issue, our strong relationships with a wide range of industry-leading providers allow us to cover as many bases as possible for our clients.

Let’s Leave Our Egos at the Door

Leaders in the fields of advertising and identity need to work together to meet the needs of brands. Partnerships entered into in this spirit can result in connected ecosystems that are greater than the sum of their parts.

This has to be a group effort, where providers collaborate to find new ways of working, rather than presenting their individual solutions as finished products and expecting everyone else to adopt them.

This even applies to the walled gardens. Of course, in an ideal world the entire internet would be open but this isn’t realistic, so we need to learn to work together.

The ‘them and us’ view of the industry doesn’t help anyone. Collaborating with the walled gardens and creating mutually beneficial relationships is possible.

Ultimately, replacing third-party cookies is about the industry working together to help brands connect with people in a responsible and privacy-compliant way.

By forming strong partnerships, and building solutions that work with multiple identifiers, we can form a connected ecosystem that will enable brands to reach their audiences with consistent, relevant messaging in a post-cookie world.