Digital content and technology companies have created the mobile platforms that people use to communicate, as well as much of the content that they want to share – but building these platforms and creating that content isn’t cheap. The ecosystem needs an influx of ad revenue to continue to thrive.
It’s the perfect equation: Content-hungry consumers, incredible publishers and content creators, and advertisers that are ready to fund it all. Except somehow, the math isn’t quite working out. Many in the advertising industry are actually facing a bit backward when it comes to making this mobile revolution profitable. It all comes down to an overdependence on cookies.
It’s Time for a Reduced-Cookie Diet
As a primer (or a refresher for digital natives), a cookie is a small file that gets downloaded to users’ computers when they access certain websites, helping websites keep track of things like the products users have added to a shopping cart. Cookies are also used to deliver advertising tailored to users’ interests, which is why they have played such a central role in fuellng the growth of digital advertising over the last decade.
The problem is that while cookies are great for keeping track of audience behaviors on desktops, apps and the majority of browsers don’t readily support cookies. This deficiency has led to many media companies not being able to monetize their mobile content effectively, because they can’t provide the depth of cross-device audience insights that advertisers have grown to expect.
From Cookies-Only, to Cookies-Plus
The good news is that the ad tech industry has already started tackling this problem. Some publishers and social networks are taking users’ login data and mapping it across devices. This connects different devices to the same user with incredible precision, but it’s also a bit of a walled garden. Using a specific social platform or publishers’ login data is certainly valuable, but what about when you’re looking to target users outside of those properties? And what if you’re a publisher without login data?
The alternative solution is probabilistic matching, technology that matches desktop cookies with mobile device IDs. If a smartphone and laptop, for example, are always on the same wireless connection in the evening and during the day, and if the same type of content is consistently consumed across both devices, then there’s a strong chance that they belong to the same user. This intel allows for way-smarter ad targeting across screens.
As an industry, we need to move more quickly toward a true cross-device future. Advertisers need insights. Content creators need revenue. And users are fed up with irrelevant ads that get repeated ad nauseam, especially on their phones.
The post-cookie world is one where advertisers can target users across devices with content that drives them further down the purchase funnel, and a world where publishers may even be able to use – gasp – fewer ads to pay for all the great cross-platform content they create. The post-cookie world is definitely a brave new one for the industry. Are you ready?