Targeting in a cookie-less world

Due to both GDPR and the introduction of 3rd party cookie restrictions from browsers such as Safari, Firefox and Chrome, fuelling targeted advertising with 3rd party cookie tracking may soon be a thing of the past.

The ICO (Information Commissioner’s Office) is charged with acting as the ‘guardian of GDPR’. This guardianship covers a lot of ground, but from a marketing perspective focuses heavily on programmatic advertising, specifically real time bidding. It is concerned with the volume of real time bids that are executed using personal data via 3rd party cookies. The worrying thing here is that these are managed by hundreds of random companies of varying repute which haven’t been granted explicit consent to do so.

Approximately 10 years ago, real time bidding via programmatic technology heralded a brave new world for digital marketing. Advertisers were able to pay for each impression or click based on the value they placed on the personal data held within the cookies. For example, age, location, gender and online behaviour. But, now that 3rd party cookies are likely to be outlawed, where do we go from here?

This move plays further into the hands of Google and Facebook due to their ability to capture 1st party data within the ‘logged-in’ walled garden which advertisers can still use for targeting of display activity.

If Google and Facebook are the only options for granular targeting based on audience data, then the industry as a whole could potentially suffer, with many publishers’ business models under threat.

However, there may be some light at the end of the tunnel for larger publishers at least, due to universal ID solutions which companies like ID5 and Infosum’s Discovery can provide. These ID Solutions help to profile publisher audience data in a way that safely links advertiser data, without compromising data security.

Even so, many digital marketers are disappointed that the progress offered by programmatic technology (albeit with cookies) to reach individuals in a cost-effective manner is being revoked. There is some concern in the industry that display advertising could return to the early days where agencies would primarily focus on direct site buys in relevant contextual spaces, reaching all audience types that visit the site rather than targeting individuals wherever they appear online.

This would be an issue for agencies that have business models based entirely around programmatic. At HOME, we have long been prioritising the targeting of moments, mindsets and context over cookies to ensure that we are gaining attention and driving quality traffic for our clients, and so we are ready for a shift away from purely cookie-based targeting.

We don’t view media in isolation at HOME. It’s planned alongside creative, which flows through to onsite experience to ensure we are maximising revenue for our clients. Our ‘moment mapping’ planning process identifies the key moments, moods and mindsets to target, and we then deliver a specially created message for that moment, rather than relying on geo-demographic profiling. In our experience, when it comes to driving engagement and ultimately better CPA’s, personal identifiers such as age, sex and social class are less important than finding the right mind-set or moment, so we prioritise suppliers that allow us to target our client’s advertising in this way.

We are confident that there will be new GDPR compliant technology solutions in the future that allow us to target individuals more effectively. In the meantime, if you would like to find out how we can ensure your display advertising doesn’t go back to the dark ages, then drop us a line.

Written by:

Ben Cunningham Director


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