Those of us dealing with ad tech didn’t even have to read Google’s announcement of its disapproval of user tracking to know that cookies and cross-site tracking are a huge problem for the industry.
Governments around the world have relentlessly tightened privacy regulations for users for years. These rules mean that users are now warned about cookies on every website they visit. If you “accept” the cookies, they will be haunted creepily on the web for weeks. Accordingly, users seek refuge in browsers and apps that block cookies – along with the ads and monetization that these cookies enable.
Meanwhile, cookies don’t even work very well as a technology, as they were designed for a purpose other than advertising and a different age that marketers of multi-purpose digital travel for consumers could not imagine.
Cookies are the cause of massive discrepancies and data loss between systems as well as a headache for operators and procurement managers and an unreliable and costly signal for marketers.
When Google announced that it was finally turning the knife on this frail technology that too many digital marketing systems rely on, they did ad tech a favor (although it gave us a few headaches).
Consumer and B2B brands around the world now face the fact that the world’s best-known tech brand and a powerhouse behind the world’s major marketing channels has declared cross-site tracking unusable.
Impact on Independent Ad Tech
The good news is that the industry was already reacting as it should be when the GDPR and CCPA took effect. Initiatives from both independent ad tech companies and Google itself make it possible to support the most important ad tech use cases while maintaining privacy Weg.
But let’s be clear: the end of cookies will have a dramatic impact on advertisers’ ROI if they continue to rely on behavioral targeting techniques.
Google says it will continue to allow independent advertising technicians to work according to their own cookie footprints on the Google platforms. That may seem like a palliative, considering how much independent advertising technology is working with Google. However, following the announcement, it is hard to see how a CMO can defend the decision to partner with independent advertising technology given the use of this technology – cookie technology, which is so invasive of privacy that Google refuses to use its own.
Ad Tech needs an activating path. Fortunately, the technology is rising above the confusing, warped, cookie-filled digital ecosystem that has created such hostility among consumers, content creators, and the brands that pay for everything.
Post-cookie digital marketing requires AI
AI is already changing companies around the world and the marketing technology these companies rely on to grow.
In digital marketing for cookies, AI can use numerous, harmless, non-user-specific semantic metadata from content – without cross-site tracking – to achieve better alignment between brands and consumers.
Powerful AI does not require any interaction with the consumer at all. And it generates marketing performance and ROI that are far better than with conventional systems, also because there is simply more metadata available than incorrect cookie data that can be used for optimization.
Take a simple example: Google recently introduced FLoC, a way of grouping all Chrome users into buckets of several thousand users whose browsing behavior is “similar” but without describing how that browsing behavior could be categorized (no, “in Briefly) be busy “label). That might seem strange or even useless given today’s industry habits, but it’s actually the perfect candy for privacy-based, AI-based marketing: instead of targeting a restricted group of people, a powerful AI can learn from weak, unlabeled signals and get conversions from a much larger group of people, which can skyrocket the ROI of campaigns.
Post cookies: privacy and better data
While it cannot be denied that the end of cookies will have a profound impact on the industry, the future of digital marketing after cookies is bright. In the world without cookies, privacy-conscious, AI-based marketing can learn from broad, unlabeled signals (like FLoC from Google Chrome) and generate engagement and sales from a much larger group of people than today.
AI will make marketing more effective. AI is already changing industries, households and devices, and increasing expectations of global brands. AI also increases the performance and scaling of steps across addressable pay media channels.
Although many innovations can still be expected from all players in the industry, the increase in ROI will increasingly depend on AI solutions that are not based on personal data or cross-location behavioral analyzes.
We all have a great opportunity today to expand the category and importance of digital marketing while reducing the friction between consumers, brands and the economic engine of the web.
The future of digital ad tech and post-cookie marketing and the business growth that comes with it look promising. We have the technology to leave pesky, intrusive legacy technology from another age behind. Let’s do this … and not look back.
More resources on digital marketing for cookies
The silver lining to the death of the biscuit: Better measurement
Chin up, marketers: The demise of third party cookies isn’t all bad
What Is Zero Party Data, Why Should Marketers Care About It, And How Can You Collect It?