If you had to pick one word that has cropped up in trade press headlines, been spoken from the stages of industry events or uttered in media circles most frequently over the past couple of years, what would it be?
While I have no sound evidence to back this up, I’d place a solid bet that ‘cookieless’ is a very strong contender. Since Google announced that it will be deprecating third-party cookies on Chrome, cookieless has become a mainstay in advertising lexicon, as the quest to find alternative ways to target and measure audiences online has gathered pace.
It’s only by trialling the solutions available that you will be able to see how they function in the real world.
However, in my view, it’s time to ditch the cookieless rhetoric. This is for one simple reason. By its very nature, cookieless – and, by extension, the death, demise or deadline of the cookie – fixates us on what’s being lost and blinds us to what we stand to gain. Of course, there is no getting away from the fact that the deprecation of third-party cookies and other identifiers is a profound change that throws up challenges, but it is also a change rooted in opportunity.
It’s no secret that cookies were not created for the purpose of tracking and measuring online ads. By phasing them out, the digital advertising industry has the chance to create targeting and measurement solutions that are compliant with current data protection laws by design, rather than retrofitting pre-existing strategies to keep pace with changes in this space.
So, yes, we’re waving bye to the cookie, but we stand to gain a more functional digital ecosystem that works for all parties – consumers, advertisers and media owners – by pioneering new ways to target and measure online. It’s this that needs to be our collective focus and the language we’re using is a powerful tool in how we navigate this process. Essentially, cookieless shouldn’t equate to loss and the cookie countdown shouldn’t be as daunting as the language we use implies.
At the IAB, we’re focusing on bringing together the different solutions that are currently in the market to help you understand what could work for you, provide an overview of the changes and champion success stories. While solutions are often talked about as alternatives to third-party cookies, it’s important to recognise that it’s highly unlikely that there will be a one-size-fits-all approach to fill the range of functions that third-party cookies currently deliver.
We outline the different types of techniques and tools that you should consider on the IAB UK website, encompassing third-party enabled solutions, first-party data, aggregate solutions, data clean rooms and contextual targeting. But most importantly, we lay out a directory of different products available – including a brief summary of each and a key contact to get in touch with if you would like to find out more. This list is not finite and we will be continuing to add to it as this process evolves.
The deprecation of third-party cookies isn’t straightforward and can feel like a daunting prospect, but my advice to you is to get familiar with what is out there. Start by identifying your company’s targeting and measurement needs, before considering which solutions are relevant and ensuring that how you implement them is compliant with data protection laws. It’s only by trialling the solutions available that you will be able to see how they function in the real world, what works and where more development is needed. Google’s delay to the phasing out of cookies on Chrome does give the industry more time to adapt, but it’s imperative we don’t waste it.
Head to IAB UK’s Targeting & Measurement hub for more on what’s happened to date, the solutions available and our essential FAQs.
Chloe Nicholls is head of ad tech at IAB UK.