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Cookieless - privacy compliant media
Jan 26, 2024

How to provide privacy-compliant media in advertising’s post-cookie era

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Author Seraj Bharwani

The alarm has been sounding for years, but the event some marketers have dreaded for years is finally upon us – the post-cookie era is here.

As we enter this new age of advertising, both security and compliance are more important than ever. Privacy is top of mind for advertisers (and AdTech companies) because it is a central concern for their customers – both existing and potential. 

The industry has known about Google’s sunsetting plans for third-party cookies since 2018 when GDPR went into effect in the European Union; many marketers and vendors have spent the past six years preparing for this very moment. 

To meet clients’ needs, marketers must achieve consistency with their core guiding principles and strategy, seeking customer consent for advertising across all touchpoints and media. 

And what shouldn’t be lost is this: measuring media impact on brand equity lets marketers better understand business outcomes, achieving unduplicated reach and effectively retargeting and controlling ad frequency. 

Are you ready to go cookieless?

There may not be a need for dire panic just yet. If you’ve paid attention to warnings like mine in the past few years, you know there are clear steps to adapt your targeting strategy to a cookieless reality. 

A strong approach is based on a proprietary consumer identity stack with multiple layers of precision. These layers depend on the targeting needs of advertisers and the requirements of a given campaign. They can include:

  • Contextual targeting free from IDs and based on customer interest, gauged from content consumed across web channels. (For instance, at illumin we partner with industry leaders like GumGum, Peer39, DoubleVerify, and Oracle for contextual targeting.) Marketers should also adhere to an industry-standard content taxonomy, such as the one adopted by IAB Tech Lab.
  • First-party reach based on advertisers existing first-party, CRM data. Of course, always use consumer data collected with consent. 
  • Consent-collected second and third-party reach to target customers based on interoperable IDs across publishers and devices. 

The second and third-party data gathered should only be collected with consent using authenticated and interoperable IDs to enable scaled reach across the privacy-compliant publishers on the open web. 

Now, let’s be honest with ourselves – none of the AdTech media vendors on the open web are completely free from third-party cookies. However, companies that heeded the clear warning that this day was coming and made significant progress in the elimination process are in a much better position going into 2024. 

It is easy to talk about the eventual demise of third-party cookies, it’s another altogether to have taken any steps to address your data stack to adapt to the new reality. 

How we adapted our internal data and identity capabilities

When it comes to practicing what we preach, here’s how we fare today.

Our platform reaches 270+ million unique monthly users and tracks over 120 billion events in real time each day – thus attributing to each user’s unique interests, needs, and behaviors. 

The volume and richness we are afforded when controlling our own data let us build our own Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Machine Learning (ML) programs to establish unique identity graphs. We can further augment these graphs with external partner integrations to provide advertisers with legitimate cookieless targeting capabilities. 

Some of these partners include: 

  • OpenRTB Publishers offering CTV, OTT & DOOH, and Digital Audio that do not rely on third-party cookies
  • TAPAD cluster IDs (to provide cross-device graphs)
  • Authenticated audience IDs from Publishers and data providers like RampID, UID2, and Panorama ID

This work is not easy. Marketers and companies like ours must constantly evaluate new players in the AdTech space to assess incremental reach, effectiveness, and opportunities. This is an arduous but essential part of remaining relevant in a highly competitive industry. We cannot snooze on upgrading our identity stack and providing the best possible service to our customers.

And guess what marketers? Your customers feel the same way. They don’t want you to talk about your commitment to finding them a cookieless solution. They want to see your workings when it comes to modernizing your targeting.

Consumer privacy and fraud protection are of the utmost importance in our industry and should be a marketer’s top priority going into the post-cookie age of advertising. By implementing strategies that respect the consent of consumers, marketers embrace the attitudes of a new era of the internet, rather than trying to fight against it while simultaneously futureproofing their targeting strategy as cookieless deadlines loom. 

I’ve given you solid advice above to find your foothold in this era: are you ready to step up?

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