May 3, 2024

Chewing on Cookies: Part 2

For our last post, we took our initial bite into “cookies” – specifically, where things stand for the digital-ad sector and how we arrived at this place.

Originally Published at MediaVillage

In short, on the topic of the digital-ad industry’s long-running, and understandable, reliance on cookies-based tracking, we addressed “What got us here?”

Well, here we are: Due to privacy concerns and the ever-present threat of legislation, the industry is cycling past cookies and is scrambling for solutions going forward that will preserve – and hopefully enhance – the impressive tracking, measurement and ROI strengths of digital targeting.

So, for this month we’ll explore the impact of the industry’s privacy regulations – and attendant rollback of cookies – on advertising and ad-tech.

You can see the changes on your desktop and mobile devices.  As we noted last month, requests for permission are now ubiquitous across websites.  iOS, too, now allows users to control apps’ tracking of their activity across apps and sites via the Settings tab under Privacy and Tracking.

Whether you call it momentous, profound, seismic or tectonic, a major shift in an industry practice usually brings buzz about the “winners” and “losers.”

But the game is way too early to call. In fact, most industry players seem confident in their gameplans.

With change comes opportunity, as the old saying goes – and no less an authority than the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) notes that potential alternatives abound in a cookie-less world.

A recent IAB study found that 71% of brands, agencies, and publishers are currently or are planning to grow their first-party datasets. “It’s crucial for brands, agencies, and publishers to continue to adopt innovative analytical methods including artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning, and media mix modeling that are less dependent on tracking signals and third-party cookies,” said Angelina Eng, Vice President Measurement, Addressability & Data Center, IAB.

So, let’s take a look at how three major pillars of the digital-advertising ecosystem – publishers, brands and ad-tech providers – are signaling plans to move the industry forward.

Publishers of course traditionally have held the keys to tools such as contextual targeting. (But increasingly we may see brands have a say; more on that later.) In the meantime publishers have made it known they see opportunities to seek payment for their valuable first-party data.

Media buyers, unused to having to pay extra for publishers’ data, might be a tough audience, at least initially. “Watch this space,” so to speak.

Brands, for their part, are hitting the ground running. A year ago, more than two-thirds of brand pros said that they were investing in technology to acquire more first-party data, per a Digiday+ Research survey. Brands also have been partnering with retail media networks (RMNs) – led by giants such as Walmart and Target – that offer first-party data from customer transactions, loyalty programs, in-store purchases and online browsing behavior.

Further seeking control of their own destinies, brands also are expected to amp up their direct-marketing efforts. Key to this is a strategy of creating more of their own content – an approach pioneered by brands such as BMW and Red Bull – and establishing their own “walled gardens” to better enable proprietary data collection and analysis.

Ad-tech players, not known for waiting around, are taking a leadership role in advancing universal identifiers (UIDs), non-cookie-dependent tools permissible under the new privacy regulations. UIDs combine a user's device ID, browser fingerprint, and other pieces of data in an identifier that can then be used to track browsing activity across multiple sites. The Trade Desk, for example, is a leading proponent of ID5, a next-generation UID enabling publishers, advertisers and platforms to recognize users and deliver ad campaigns across different types of devices.

Which will prove the winningest strategy?

I won’t venture a prediction just yet. Next month we’ll take a much bigger bite into the topic when we elaborate our own views on solutions that might be appetizing for local and regional SMBs and ad-inventory providers alike.

Hopefully, in the meantime, this update offers a little to chew on for this month.

I encourage readers to reach out with their questions or thoughts. Feel free to email me at

Posted at MediaVillage through the Thought Leadership self-publishing platform.

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Topics: Advertising, Digital Insights, Cable News, Marketing Insights


Written by MediaVillage

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