Cookie-less World

Cookies are reliable mechanisms that were designed for websites to remember vital information or record the browsing activity of the user. They come in two flavors: first-party cookies that can only be accessed by a website that the user is currently on, and third-party cookies that can be accessed by any other entity that has a JavaScript code on that website. For instance, if a user visits, the website can put up a first-party cookie that can be accessed only by the NY Times servers. However, if NYTimes is using Google as an advertising partner, then Google could set up a third-party cookie that would allow tracking the user even though the user may never realize that Google was doing so.

Online advertisers were using third party cookies for years as a standard tool used as a third-party tracking technology. However, in the near future, third party cookies will soon be the thing of the past as Google Chrome is going to support this functionality by 2022. Apple’s Safari and Mozilla’s Firefox dropped support for third-party cookies in 2017 and 2019 respectively, leaving Chrome – the most-used browser with a 69% market share – as the man standing.

What Would A Cookie-less World Feel Like?

What Would A Cookie-less World Feel Like?

So when we talk about a cookie-less world, we are really referring to a world in which ad tech vendors, marketers, advertisers, and others can no longer access third-party cookies set on websites.

Several brands including that of marketers, advertisers, publishers, and technology providers are yet to embrace the cookie-less future. Even though many of them believe that such a future may have a serious impact on brand building.

Aroscop and Brand Equity took a poll in their new study with over 450 technology providers, advertisers, and marketers. Out of all of those brands, 22% of the respondents were confident that brand building would have serious consequences without cookies. The study also showed that only 8% of these brands were prepared for the shift and deployed alternate solutions for it. However, 35% of the respondents are actively looking for solutions to adapt to cookie-less marketing.

In the study, advertising agencies also stated that loss of clients, diminishing profits, and inability to acquire new clients would be their top priorities while entering the future without cookies.

What Are The Possible Challenges To Tackle In A Cookie-less World?

What Are The Possible Challenges To Tackle In A Cookie-less World?

Nonetheless, there are a few challenges that brands and marketers would have to tackle while heading towards the cookie-less world. The first challenge would be for the advertisers to deliver personalized content to their users. For quite some time now, the advertisers relied on third-party cookies for personalization. After third party cookies being obsolete, personalization would have a severe impact. Apart from this, frequency capping could change drastically in the post-cookie era. Advertisers could have a tough time while managing the frequency of ads being displayed on the internet to users.

Behavioral targeting is another challenge that is fuelled by third party cookies currently. User behavior helps advertisers collect data to track and target prospects for them. It will be majorly affected without cookies in the future. Customer acquisition will also become more difficult. It is no longer about cold emails and offers anymore. Guiding the buyer through a sales funnel with relevant content across platforms has always been fruitful for the marketers. Cookie-less advertising will change the way brands acquire customers.

Self-reliant Publishers – Is This The Way Forward?

Self-reliant Publishers - Is This The Way Forward?

With cookie-less tracking, brands and marketers would have to rely on first-party data that publishers control on websites. Publishers are now building their own walled gardens providing advertisers with accurate data as they are drawing closer to the cookie-less world. Publishers would be in an extraordinary position connecting advertisers with high intent customers considering how rich data will become scarcer.

Furthermore, user privacy has become a real issue in this matter, and focussing only on cookies would not do justice to analyze how things would turn up. Using data to understand the behavior of the user has always been a key part of any brand objective rather than just to drive growth and gain profit from it. Building consumer trust and quality targeting must always go hand-in-hand when it comes to the goal of a brand.

Will Tracking Tools By Companies Successfully Tackle A No Cookie Environment?

Will Tracking Tools By Companies Successfully Tackle A No Cookie Environment?

Meanwhile, many companies have developed their own tracking tools and procedures while gearing up to perform well without third-party cookies. Google, for instance, has developed “universal IDs” that do not require third-party cookies and would identify users while tracking them across different devices. Although, the idea that in order to target the users many smaller publishers would have to use Google’s universal IDs, does not sit well with many in the industry.

Google is also starting to pitch a Privacy Sandbox as an alternative. The initiative is to help track while continuing to allow ad targeting within the Chrome browser. However, it seems to the advertising industry that the proposal may come with a catch. With Privacy Sandbox, cookies are replaced via five software-programming interfaces. Advertisers can use each API to obtain collective information concerning problems like conversion (which means how properly the ads performed) and attribution (meaning which entity is attributable, for instance, for a purchase). It acts as an alternate pathway that Google has presented to the market relying on anonymized alerts, which are not cookies, inside a user’s Chrome browser to take advantage of his searching habits.

Microsoft is also not far from developing a way to track its users without cookies. It can track users with its Windows software, including tablets and Windows phones, even the users of Xbox gaming systems. The tracking technology of Windows works by assigning a number to the user or a unique identifier. That unique number would track the user across Windows-enabled devices.

Pandora, the online music streaming service, is also hoping to leverage its first-party data to overcome the absence of cookies. Pandora gets the users’ login information including their email, age, location, and gender. The service cross-references the data with the US Census and their listening habits before offering the targeted inventory for advertisers. Because of its predominantly mobile-based audience, it is actually an advantage for Pandora to move to first-party data.

How B2B platforms are gearing up?

Likewise, B2B online targeting and personalization platform, Demandbase, has developed one of the first cookie-less ad targeting solutions. It allows users to identify a group of businesses to advertise to, as the targeting tool is solely helpful for B2B advertisers. The B2B targeting tool is an extension of Demandbase’s Company Targeted Advertising solution. It uses corporate IP addresses of visitors as a source of identification to know from which company the person belongs. With this tool, any time a user visits the Demandbase client’s webpage, it can track the IP address back to their company and potentially gain a new lead.

Skepticism & Forecasting A Cookie-less Future

Skepticism & Forecasting A Cookie-less Future

Many smaller firms fear a takeover of online advertising by Google if cookies cease to be useful. One of such smaller firms is Xasis, an agency ad trading desk. It is proposing a new industry standard called “statistical ID”, rather than developing its own exclusive tool like the other companies discussed above. The idea of statistical ID is to identify users by their devices and other anonymous attributes. Instead of using cookies, the combination of these attributes will be used by the advertisers to target the users.

To sum up, everything that has been stated so far, a private marketplace (PMP) advertising environment could become common among publishers in the near future. It will act as a digital marketplace where advertisers can buy premium inventory for their advertisements. The main idea behind PMP advertising is data quality assurance. It is predicted that such an environment reduces the chances of ad fraud, enhances brand safety, and facilitates more accurate targeting. While this is a challenge for ad tech vendors and marketers, maybe it creates a path to provide more control to publishers and content creators. It will be interesting to observe how brands and marketers would adapt their offerings and services to cater to the new demands of advertising in a cookie-less era.

If you are looking at reading more about Cookies, click here and find out the impact Of 3rd Party cookie blocking on Ad Revenues.

Samien Kidwai

Hailing from an academic background, I have been an Assistant Professor in Mass Communication with an additional decade of experience in creative writing. I’m passionate about music and theatre with an inclination towards movies. Being an avid reader, I love to scribble my thoughts and ideas when I’m not running behind my 8 year old daughter.