What Does “Cookieless” Even Mean?


What is a cookie?

Programmatic changed the game for advertising. Marketers have always placed ads based on the content being consumed by their target audiences, and programmatic allows them to target ads to people based on their detailed online browsing behavior. 

This is made possible by third-party cookies – data files set on consumers’ browsers to remember their activities as they roam the web. If I visit the Washington Post’s news site, for example, an ad tech system may have access to the web page because it is authorized to serve ads to the site. That ad tech player can set a cookie in my browser, allowing the company to recognize me on other websites and create a profile with my hobbies and items I want to purchase. 

I believe third-party cookies are generally benign, but they have many people up in arms. Cookies can cause web pages to load slowly as they share information with ad networks that want to serve me relevant ads. There are also consumer privacy concerns because most people don’t like the idea of being tracked. 

As a result, Google will withdraw support for third-party cookies next year. A range of “cookieless” solutions are hitting the market. But what does “cookieless” even mean?

No reason to panic.

What we call “cookieless” is a cluster of solutions that aren’t reliant on the third-party cookie tracking mechanism that enables programmatic advertising. 

With the loss of third-party cookies, the new cookieless solutions emerging aim to help advertisers continue to track people but in a more privacy-centric and transparent way. Consumers will gain greater awareness and control over how their personal information is being used for advertising. 

Marketers shouldn’t panic: Some volume of the programmatic advertising will continue. The shift should have minimal impact on their day-to-day jobs.

Life after cookies.

Programmatic advertising has been good from a business perspective because it has allowed companies to sell products and services more efficiently and cost-effectively. But from a media perspective, programmatic was a mess because it incentivized content creators to drive traffic to their websites and maximize time spent. That led to a general race to the bottom in terms of quality. 

The death of third-party cookies will increase the value of high-quality web content. Media owners already have greater confidence in asking readers to log in to access their content. Now there’s some level of quality required to achieve the scale needed to participate in an ad network. This is good for marketers since they don’t want their ads running next to questionable content. The cleanup taking place is realigning value incentives throughout the system. 

Another side effect: Without third-party cookies, digital advertisers have fewer options outside the walled gardens. Facebook, for example, isn’t reliant on cookies since its users must log in to use its platforms, so its sheer scale provides a more complete view of user interests and enables it to serve relevant ads. Facebook may well end up capturing the small amount of advertising that isn’t already on its site.

We don’t need no stinkin’ cookie.

We, at NetWise, are not worried about the loss of third-party cookies. Like Facebook, we also have never depended on third-party cookies to deliver value for our customers. Our third-party data isn’t reliant on cookies by virtue of our ID graph that deterministically stitches digital identities together.

That means our data will continue to be very useful to marketers no matter how the industry changes. We can not only connect marketers with cookies and programmatic, but we can also connect them with emails and any other ID that may emerge. We’re already implementing many new identifiers with our partners. NetWise is very prepared to help our customers reach their desired audiences.

Ready to check out NetWise Audience Platform? Get started here.

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