Why The Industry Can't Pause Action On Cookies

The demise of cookies on Chrome has been discussed for years and despite another postponement, advertisers can’t simply sit back in the hope of yet more delays.
While the delay is good news for the 90% of companies that weren’t ready, it should also be a clarion call for action, encouraging brands to develop smarter solutions ahead of the new 2024 deadline. 
The demise of third-party cookies on the world’s biggest browser will have major implications when it comes to targeting, retargeting, attribution, frequency capping, measurement, and optimization. 

To ensure they are ready, brands need to deploy five practical approaches now:

Maximize First-Party Data

The size and quality of an advertiser's first-party data will separate the winners from the losers in the post-cookie era. 
Many cookie replacements will rely heavily on strong first-party data so advertisers must have a robust strategy in place to maximize consent and ensure that the relevant technology is in place.
All such data must be authenticated, with users opted in and providing explicit consent for brands to target them.
Leverage Data Clean Room Technologies
Data clean rooms facilitate the manipulation of user-level data from two parties such as the matching of first-party datasets directly between publishers and advertisers. They allow activation of advertiser first-party data in a privacy-safe way, enabling strategies such as prospecting, lookalikes, retargeting, frequency capping, measurement and attribution. 
There are two types of data clean rooms now available for testing:
Media Clean Rooms – These sit within walled gardens such as Google Ads Data Hub, Facebook Advanced Analytics and Amazon Marketing Cloud. They are primarily used by brands that spend significant amounts within a walled garden, enabling access to user-level data to carry out advanced segmentation and spend optimization.
Partner Clean Rooms – These are often leveraged by partnering brands, such as an FMCG and retail company or a publisher and advertiser. They allow greater control, granularity and flexibility in activation, examples include Infosum, Permutive, Habu and Google’s PAIR.
Brands should be looking to utilize both types of clean rooms.
Test Industry ID Solutions
Anonymized IDs enable buyers and sellers to consistently identify a user across digital environments without the need for cookies. 
There are two types of IDs that need to be tested:
Deterministic IDs are based on consumer provided and authenticated first-party data such as an email address. Advertisers and publishers with direct consumer relationships can transform such data into an operational deterministic ID that is cross device. Examples are TTD Unified ID 2.0, RampID, netID and Zeotap ID+. 
Probabilistic/Modelled IDs – Some ID providers supplement consented first-party information with behavioral and contextual signals to build user profiles. Probabilistic IDs are typically more scalable than deterministic IDs but may also be less accurate. Examples include Panorama ID, ID5 and FabrickID.
Given the vast number of IDs now available, DSPs and SSPs have begun to allow ID agnostic solutions, enabling all available IDs in the bid stream to be leveraged.
Return To Contextual Targeting
Contextual targeting allows advertisers to target users based on the content that the user is consuming, utilizing signals such as keyword, category, image as well as brand safety and suitability. 
This classic strategy is gaining popularity as an effective approach that does not require explicit consent, rely on trackers or personal data. 
Contextual solutions have advanced significantly in the last decade with providers leveraging contextual signals such as content category sentiment and semantics to provide insights into user interest, affinity or purchase intent. 
There are several contextual solutions that can be tested by advertisers immediately.
Keep Up To Date By Testing Browser And App Frameworks
Browser and mobile-app frameworks aim to facilitate digital advertising without requiring cross-site identifiers. Google’s Privacy Sandbox project, for example, seeks to replace cookies with browser Application Programming Interfaces (APIs), allowing third parties to obtain information directly from the browser and then use the information for conversion measurement, fraud detection, interest-based targeting and re-marketing. 
For interest-based targeting, the ‘Topics API’ proposes that advertisers can target users around topics that they might currently be interested in, based on their recent browsing activity.
For remarketing, the ‘FLEDGE API’ will enable advertisers create interest groups based on their first-party data, which can be uploaded via a ‘trusted server’ that will inform the browser they want to show ads to those users. 
Both Topics & FLEDGE are available for testing now. 
Advertisers that want to move ahead of their competitors and set themselves up for success should aim to build a roadmap for testing now to allow all relevant and applicable solutions to be evaluated, tested and where appropriate, implemented.
Only then can they be confident they are prepared from both a strategic and practical perspective for the largest change that our industry will see for many years.



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