By Anthony Flaccavento – General Manager of Americas at Ogury
Just because there isn’t an exact end date for the inevitable, it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. The end of cookies and ad IDs is near—sometime in the second half of 2024. This will mark the new era of advertising, where brands will move beyond their over-reliance on third-party data.
A multitude of cookieless solutions are emerging to convince brand marketers of their supremacy. The wealth of different solutions built on diverging philosophies range from unified IDs to contextual, semantic, and cohort-based targeting, which can make all of this quite confusing for marketers. Many brands are attempting to map out the best path forward in their transition to a post-cookie marketplace.
Here are four tips that will offer a future-proof road map.
1. Be Proactive and Take Control Now
Expecting or relying on Google to postpone yet again the deprecation of third-party cookies on its Chrome browser is not advisable as many of your competitors would get a head start. Rather, a proactive commitment to crafting a new, future-proof paradigm for post-cookie digital advertising should be the new modus operandi. Brands will need to strive for success that doesn’t milk the easy convenience of privacy-invasive personalized tracking. At the end of the day, user tracking has become so frowned upon by too many consumers that achieving fair consent at scale will be impossible.
Unless they are already storing vast troves of first-party data, they will struggle to reach their customers with the precision to which they have become accustomed. In this new privacy-first world, consumers hold greater power, with brands more and more at their mercy. With regulators increasingly in consumers’ corner, piling on new legal restrictions to already stringent privacy legislation, the stakes couldn’t be higher for brands.
2. Building A Scalable Plan for the Long-Term
Multiple unified ID solutions have been developed in recent years. These solutions are currently siloed, thus, not interoperable. They also still require consent, which makes it more difficult as users are rejecting tracking en masse. In addition, they depend on a specific network of publishers, who do not want to share their users’ data either, which makes their reach extremely limited.
Also, the Private Relay setting on Apple devices and its Safari browser encrypts users’ IP addresses and browsing data, making it impossible to reconcile IP addresses to unique IDs.
3. Going Beyond Contextual And Semantic Targeting
Despite the AI-driven advances of contextual and semantic targeting, it will not allow brands to fully understand and engage their audiences. It tries to predict who is looking at a page or app based on the context instead of specific user interests.
If user A is looking at the Sports page of a general news website, user A will be categorized as a sports fan, triggering sports-related ads. User A could indeed be a sports fan, but what about those other interests User A might have, which could also provide rich insights? What if User A also has a dog, but never visits pet-focused websites? These “hidden enthusiasts” will be largely missed by only considering a tiny number of people gleaned from narrowly focusing on specific topics.
4. Focus on Personas, Not Cohorts
Cohort-based advertising, like Google Topics, has claimed superiority over contextual and semantic targeting solutions. By collecting users’ browsing history, this technique studies user behavior to segment general topics at an aggregate level.
But cohorts still rely on gathering user information, without users being fully conscious or aware of it. Instead, personified advertising does not rely on an individual’s browsing history – at all. And that’s the major difference. While cohort-based targeting depends on tracking users’ digital behavior, personified advertising in stark contrast asks consenting users a number of questions to determine their intrinsic interests in a transparent way.
Take our earlier quasi-sports fan, User A. Personified advertising is able to deeply understand their interests, allowing marketers to ask “How many times a week do you work out?” to define if he/she is into casual or heavy fitness, for example, via surveys they can either opt in or out of, investigating far beyond sports websites only. These questionnaires also determine User A’s other interests aside from sports. There are emerging marketplace solutions centered on a method that gives this depth of knowledge by shifting from a user-centric focus to a placement-centric one, synthesizing dozens of millions of data points to define thousands of different personas.
With the disappearance of cookie-based advertising on the imminent horizon, brands should embrace personified advertising that is truly scalable, privacy-first and future-proof in a manner that other emerging methods like unified IDs, contextual & semantic and cohort-based targeting are not.