Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

MediaLad: The truth behind tech companies’ cookieless promises

Who’s MediaLad? In digital media, everyone pretends they know who he, or she, is. We do. Or do we? What we do know is that the anonymous media hero is NDA’s irregular columnist.

I wrote a tweet thread about how the later it gets in 2022, and the more varied stakeholders in the industry get panicky that they might make rash decisions on the whole cookieless future thing, and it resonated with a fair few of my followers. And before you ask, yes it took me over a month to write this follow up – don’t remind Justin, will you.

To jump on a quick fix or even just one solution would be a dangerous perspective and judgment to make. In many industry experts’ eyes, not one solution will win out here as many are still figuring out what their stance is on cookieless. That is inclusive of the Big G!

And therein lies the problem. Many companies, many stances. Some really good and should be taken note of, and some others wildly unrelated to anything to do with cookies in the first place and likely just doing it for SEO. I would love to ask the latter ones what their cookieless approach actually is, as the likely answer is, “we will not be affected as we don’t rely on third-party cookies for our technology to work.” I am not kidding.

So how do you gauge who you should be speaking to? What should you be thinking about when it comes to cookieless and the players in the market

  1. Data sources

It’s critical to any organisation to choose partners that have scalable and proprietary data with as few hops between parties as possible; this is why the likes of Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple all do so well when it comes to knowing their audiences and providing us buyers with insights.

There are more however if you look hard enough, with analytics companies and measurement companies offering their data either for targeting or measurement – or both hopefully.

2. Technology capabilities

The tech companies that can make sense of the internet are going to be in a great position to really amp up their messaging around models and ingesting multiple data signals to make data-driven decisions.

I sound like a press release when I talk about a unified planning tool central to your media planning and activation efforts – but it’s true, there are tech platforms out there with great capabilities to understand the internet without the need for third-party cookies.

AI-driven platforms will be selling you like you wouldn’t believe and you have to entertain them to make an educated and smart guess as to which you can trust to deliver you great results. And how do you do that? That’s number 3.

3. Data and Technology coming together

When you have data you can surface it for buying in a platform. When you have data and a technology platform you can seamlessly allow buyers, planners, marketers from all walks the capability to plan and activate their media spend in a single place. The benefit I hear you ask? Well, why do you use Facebook for marketing? Why do you pitch Google to your clients? It’s data, inventory and a single place to buy and measure your campaigns.

You’re not limited to these however with scalable players coming to the market worthy of attention. These include Adform – albeit a clunky tech platform – its ID Fusion tech should be something you look at. Just understand that it’s not as seamless to get amazing results from it as other platforms. The facelift hasn’t really been as amazing as I think it thought it might be, and even though personal opinion, the proof comes when you hit Reporting and then Campaigns again – you’re back in the old interface.

The Trade Desk has entered the game when it comes to such data, just look at Unified ID and how it is trying not to police it. However realistically it will likely have to be some kind of data controller to successfully regulate and scale it from an authenticated data perspective. 

That brings it into the fold for data processing and activation and perhaps a new realm that it’s not comfortable in or fully proficient in. I’ve had my suspicions about Unified ID since day one, with the PR shouting about the accuracy but not about where the actual scale comes from.

Also, the combination of lots of different types of data realistically brings about more questions than answers. Is there a microscope already on ID solutions that are not consistent with the whole reason we’re moving away from third-party cookies? Who knows.

Quantcast has been busy the last few years and it’s interesting to see it nominated for their cookieless technology already. The demos I’ve seen are fairly slick and the data they have has never been in question. I even used to use it when I was publisher side, and think those sites still have it enabled – which goes to show the longevity and reputation it has for publishers across the globe. Definitely one to watch.

Teads is boasting again about cookieless this and that on billboards but believe you me, it wasn’t first. Still, it’s a great idea to pitch your solution – that you know full well is not a performance format – as a cookieless technology. Its platform is actually pretty good though and could be a challenger. But remember it is only its inventory, so another walled garden?

Worth the activation if you’re looking at brand tactics but might be more hassle to get results out that mean something to your bottom line. It remains to be seen how it will use that inventory footprint to analyse and model behaviour from and the same can be said for tag on-page players like Outbrain and Taboola too! Probably a fair bit there for those players to start playing with…..

All in all, cookieless is here.

The days of tracking your campaigns with piecemeal breadcrumbs across the internet are numbered. I’d love to hear your thoughts on twitter @media_lad  on how you’re approaching measurement.

There are some smarter cookies out there than me and together, collaboratively, solutions will be fused together for the best for your business.