By: Lidia Vijga Co-founder & Head of Growth at briefbid.

Cookie tracking is dying, leaving marketers seemingly stranded in a cookieless world. Without the life preserver of the cookie, those files that empower advertisers with the data they need to understand and reach consumers online, how can they continue to scale their campaigns? In a privacy-centric world, cookies need to be gone; privacy standards will only continue to favor individual users, as they should, and advertisers will have to adapt to stay personal with their target audiences.

There are a few bright spots in this cookieless future we have found ourselves headed toward: contextual targeting and direct buy ads. Where cookies used to provide third-party data, context and consented first-party data will need to inform the new advertising ecosystem. Direct relationships with publishers could allow media buyers to continue to control their ability to target audience segments in an effective and affordable way.

Here’s why cookies are done for…

Google has promised to remove cookies from Chrome by 2022. Then, most major internet browsers aside from Microsoft Edge will be cookieless and privacy-forward.

Cookies have historically helped track user journeys across the internet, but they also have been historically mysterious to consumers in their function and, once upon a time, their presence. Third-party cookies — as opposed to first-party cookies, which are only used internally by the website you’re visiting to improve its services — are like silent worker bees, buzzing in the backend of your browser and collecting your data for outside entities like pollen for the hive. The hive they’re returning to, in the case of this metaphor, is a third-party server. 

Legislation like GDPR and changes in consumer sentiment over the last few years have put an end to this data trail. Most users had no idea what data they were freely giving out, how it was being used or who was able to access it. They also weren’t given clear opt-out abilities or information about when cookies were present until recently. That’s why the cookie is crumbling.

What’s next in the cookieless world?

As new solutions are being built in the world of ad tech, there may be a perfect opportunity to return to a time when direct ad buys from publishers were more common. Programmatic has allowed advertisers to scale campaigns to new heights while keeping deep targeting and measurement at the forefront of marketing strategy. Data, however, remains the key to long-term success.

Consented First-Party Data

David Temkin, Google’s Director of Product Management, Ads Privacy and Trust, says first-party data collection should be every brand’s first priority: “Developing strong relationships with customers has always been critical for brands to build a successful business, and this becomes even more vital in a privacy-first world. [Google] will continue to support first-party relationships on our ad platforms for partners, in which they have direct connections with their own customers. And we’ll deepen our support for solutions that build on these direct relationships between consumers and the brands and publishers they engage with.”

Cookieless Tracking Alternatives

Google also voiced their support for developing alternatives to tracking. IAB Canada recently released a report detailing contextual advertising’s role in the cookieless future. The report painted a picture of three emerging methods for reaching audiences. 

  • Contextual Targeting: With a foundation in segmentation spawned from first-party data sets and bolstered by predictive models driven by machine learning, brands and publishers can use context to enhance the reception of their ads based on external targeting factors. Essentially, publishers can utilize technology to understand how a user will interact with an ad based on the context in which they are seeing it. This can get incredibly specific and extend beyond the device, too — for example, ads could be created and targeted based on anticipated or real-time weather patterns.  
  • Universal IDs: A smaller portion of audiences could be captured with universal IDs, which are identifiers that create a shared identity for a user across the sites they visit. These consented IDs are deterministic, meaning they are clearly identifiable because they are built on authenticated or inferred first-party and offline data.
  • Cohorts: Aggregated segments that share specific similarities across events and time are collected into cohorts, which are part of another tactic behind which Google has thrown their weight. Going above and beyond basic segmentation like demographics (e.g. age or gender), cohorts align users who share life experiences that differentiate them and provide a deeper connection to a more useful targeting group, especially for niche audiences. An example might be women between the ages of 35 and 50 who served as pilots in the United States Air Force.

Collecting first-party data is a good start and now, we have a sense of the road ahead for building on that first-party data. With cookieless tracking, publisher direct buys can help media buyers make informed decisions with their ad spend.

A Solution is more Publisher Marketplaces

Now that first-party data is becoming the top driver of audience insight, publishing professionals are in the driver’s seat — owning the space that captures specific audiences means earning consent from users. That means publishers can offer highly specified audience segments to hungry advertisers. 

Direct buy ads from publishers offer several advantages which Alex Harris, founder of Adadot, explained in detail. One important advantage is the ability to improve creative design for greater impact, memorability and relatability. You can tailor your creatives to smaller segments of a large audience who hang out within a specific publisher’s space. That way, you can be deliberate and effective in your campaigns, minimizing waste on your ad spend and increasing conversions.

But how do you even make contact with publishers you’re unfamiliar with? How can you understand their audiences, their inventory and their costs? 

A publisher marketplace like BriefBid is the all-in-one solution for buying ad space directly from publishers. Publisher marketplace deals pay off for many reasons:

  • Discover new vendors: No contacts? No problem! The publisher marketplace has a wide range of media vendors who you can discover and connect with. BriefBid’s intelligent platform will even match your RFPs with specific vendors based on the details of your campaign.
  • See all of the details: Compare rates, targeting capabilities, audience segments and more to find the best publisher for your creative. In a publisher marketplace, you’ll have every piece of information you need to make the most informed decision for your ad spend.
  • Communicate directly with publishers: Enjoy a centralized location for maintaining your list of vendor contacts and communicate with them directly when you’re judging proposals for your RFP. 

With a publisher marketplace that gives you the power to connect directly with thousands of premium publishers, and through them, millions of engaged audience members, you’ll be ready to conquer the cookieless world. Interested? Try BriefBid free for your business today and start buying inventory directly from the publishers you want.

briefbid – Plan & Discover Digital Media in One Place.