Why 2024 Will Usher in the ‘Age of Mindset’ in Digital Advertising

By Peter Wallace, General Manager EMEA at GumGum

For so long, the digital ad industry has tiptoed around the possibility of a cookieless age. But, with the deprecation of 3rd party cookies on Chrome expected in 2024, the cliff-edge moment could be approaching when all the testing and uncertainty finally translate into action.

So far, the debate around what will come next has been dominated by Google’s Privacy Sandbox, enabled in Chrome 115 this summer in the shadow of a landmark antitrust case brought by the US Department of Justice. Other players are pinning their hopes on The Trade Desk’s Unified ID 2.0 strategy

The inconvenient truth, however, is that these solutions arguably represent a continuation of the status quo in audience targeting. At this critical juncture, advertisers have an opportunity to be radical and embrace a more mature, cookieless targeting space where brands can truly provide value to consumers in the moments that matter.

Latency, lag and legal headaches

In its drive to set the standards and rules for the post-cookie ad ecosystem, Google has found itself entrenched in a tug-of-war with global regulators, throwing any future solution into doubt. From the US government to Dutch consumer groups and the UK’s Competition and Markets Authority, the tech giant is facing waves of scrutiny over its entire business model.

Meanwhile, those drawn to the Universal ID school of thought must contend with the fact that the solution relies on opt-in consent – potentially limiting scalability and reach.

The biggest issue with these proposals, however, is that they still depend on mapping a user profile based on their past behaviour (in anonymized format) rather than examining intent in the here and now.

Consumers in today’s digital ecosystem move at a dizzyingly fast pace, with the average user multitasking across many devices both at home and in the workplace. Flitting between email, social media and TV platforms is second nature to most of us. And younger generations, in particular, are increasingly drawn towards “in the moment” postings of real-time theaters such as TikTok and BeReal.

In such a complex climate, trying to target a user based on their past habits or profile is the equivalent of squaring the circle. The two components just don’t fit.

And because these solutions ultimately rely on personal data, they often fall within the gray areas of privacy rules, leaving them vulnerable to future regulatory updates.

Welcome to the Mindset Age

Instead, marketers need to start focusing on the pivotal role of mindset in the user journey. If we can tap into a user’s mood at any one point in time – based on a detailed landscape of contextual intelligence insights – it’s possible to move in rhythm with consumers and their continuously evolving mindsets.

Mindset and receptiveness to advertising isn’t just earned through aligning with relevant content, however. We need to go deeper in reading user behaviors and content context. That’s why the real potential of the mindset approach is realized in tandem with attention measurement.

If contextual targeting helps an advertiser to understand the content a user is interested in and how the creative can tap into their active mindset, attention technology allows advertisers to continuously measure these activations in real-time, driving the best brand and business outcomes.

ID profiling doesn’t figure in this equation because it doesn’t matter where someone’s from, their age, their gender or any other identifying factor. What matters is leveraging contextual, attention and creative intelligence, using real time, cookie-free data signals, to establish a deep-rooted understanding of a user’s changing mindset.

Completing the loop

At this cliff edge chapter in the digital ad story, providers need to consider carefully which strategies will serve them best. Targeting people based on their behavioral profile falls short from the immediacy and pace of today’s digital consumers and is vulnerable because of its reliance on personal data.

Mindset targeting offers a smarter route in, and an added advantage is that brands can target multiple viewers at once, regardless of their profile. This capacity is especially useful given the co-viewing default of new and booming channels, e.g. CTV.

It’s the formula of context+attention+creative that forms the most compelling model for the future of advertising in the cookieless world, seamlessly tapping into the nuances of user mindset in a way that antiquated profile-based models will never achieve.