Cookies for Targeted Digital Ads
Advertising cookies and digital advertising have gone hand in hand since the beginning of time, allowing for complete user profiles to be made and to enable relevant ad targeting, personalization and attribution. Cookies/third party cookies are files that are placed by advertisers to gather information on an individual user’s web search habits so that relevant ads can be shown to them. This cookie information can go across websites and be shared with other advertisers to measure performance.
No More Advertising Cookies
Recently, there has been a greater emphasis on data privacy, especially with the enforcement of GDPR in Europe, CCPA in California and other privacy laws in numerous countries worldwide. In Particular, Apple has significantly increased its effort in strengthening privacy protection.
Apple has released of Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) for its Safari browser to address users’ privacy concerns by preventing cross-site tracking and completely removing the support for third-party cookies. The new norm is going to be; a 7-day expiration for first party cookies and 1-day expiration for cookies set by link decoration. These new measures have made it difficult to track, retarget and attribute conversions on Safari.
Google Chrome has been following the footstep of Safari by enforcing the SameSite tracking and has stopped sending third-party cookies in cross-site requests unless the cookies are secured and flagged using an Internet standard called SameSite (learn more about Google Chrome’s SameSite; and technical explanation about SameSite). Google also announced removing third-party in approximately two years. Similar action was taken by Mozilla/Firefox browser.
Apple recently announced new measures as part of its privacy protection in iOS 14, by making the mobile device identifier known as IDFA explicitly opt-in for all apps. Mobile apps will now need user’s permission before the app can use the identifier for tracking purposes. This will essentially cripple the way tracking is being done, because adding the opt-in will create more users to choose the “opt-out” option, thus making it harder to track and attribute in iOS devices. Google will most likely have to follow suit as what we have seen happened with Chrome, and we expect a similar announcement for such measures in Android OS.
Impact on Digital Advertising Ecosystem
These changes are creating a daunting task for AdTech vendors to perform the basic operation of attribution and ads targeting. These include:
- Third-party DMP data based on a cookie or digital id will not be relevant anymore
- The ability to attribute conversions will be incredibly difficult
- De-Duplication will be impossible, advertisers will not be able to remove duplicate data
- This also means that the Big Tech companies(Google, Facebook and Amazon) will have monopoly and will further increase their dominance in our lives.
- First-Party data will be popular and AdTech vendors will have to work within the first-party data framework and evolve. This will most likely lead to rising cost of integration and real-time targeting.
How is Adfuel™ Addressing These Challenges?
It is no doubt that these are going to be challenging times for the advertising industry. Thankfully, Adufel™ has been working hard to develop solutions to help cope:
- Enabling first-party cookies to track and attribute: this solution has been implemented by us to ensure that tracking is done on the website domain of the advertiser. We will not be dropping our cookies on the advertiser domain in the process of tracking conversions on the advertiser website. Adfuel™’s tracker will only access the customer’s information via the advertiser’s website/domain and using proprietary Adfuel™ technology to track users across websites and apps. This will help us with:
- Compatibily with ITP 2.x requirement by Safari
- Support Same Site cookies or Google Chrome
- Ability to retarget users as well as the ability to track attribution.
- Server-to-Server (S2S) integration: Adfuel™ has developed its proprietary technology to send user events happening on the advertiser’s website through S2S integration with the advertiser. This will Allow Adfuel™ to help track users across the different channels without dropping the Adfuel™ pixel into the advertiser’s website. The events that are able to be tracked include: booking, purchases, registration, sign ups or any events occurring on the advertiser’s website or mobile app installation, post-install events that happen after a user clicks on any Adfuel™ ads.
- Contextual Targeting (or cookie-less targeting): Using Adfuel™ proprietary technology, that uses a contextual engine that we have been developing over the last decade, enables our customers to target and show contextually relevant ads to a cohort of users reading articles with matching relevance/context to the campaign that an advertiser is running. Such contextual features serve as additional data signals to our Afuel™ engine to enhance its relevance to reach the right audience or cohort. We have noticed strong improvement in performance in terms of CTR and CPC for active campaigns using our contextual targeting on a monthly basis. At the moment, we are down to our last hope of conversion optimization to achieve our desired performance. This will serve as an alternative to the cookie based targeting.
- Partnering with identity vendors: We have also been working on been working with third-party vendors, to help initiate a system where we will utilize a Universal ID to track users across different publisher’s websites/SSP. This combined with our S2S solution will provide good coverage when it comes to retargeting users and attribution of conversions. We believe this will also improve the efficiency of different stakeholders in terms of the cost of infrastructure as well as ability to target.
- Google Privacy Sandbox project: this project is an initiative by Google to provide privacy to the web while still enabling tracking and measurement. One of the proposed frameworks that we are keeping an eye on is TRUTLEDOVE. This framework enables on-device auction to choose from the most relevant ads rather than server side auction. This project is still in development. This indeed will be the new standard for targeting, however we do predict two risks:
- This is primarily a single-vendor solution for the entire advertising ecosystem
- The project is in its infancy and our industry has been monitoring its slow progress and would be a tall order to meet the 2 year timeline initially announced by Goolge