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Much Ado About Something

by | Mar 10, 2021

It’s being called the cookie apocalypse: Apple and Facebook are throwing barbs at one another, privacy has become a key buzzword, and digital markets have glued to screens waiting for what’s to come.

While it’s all true, it’s all a little bit hyped.

We’ve been tracking the impacts of all these pending changes on our digital ad industry and capturing it here for you.

As of mid-March, here’s what we know. (Keep checking back, we’re sure it will change again, and again, and again … .)

Apple iOS14

By the time you read this blog, we could be living in a iOS14 world — after all, it has been pending for almost a year now We’ve come to think of this as the equivalent of an El Niño weather event — it’ll get here when it gets here.

As we shared with you in February, this change will specifically affect information for advertisers collected from Apple device users.  For those of you following the new lingo – IDFA (ID for Advertisers) is how apps collect details on users, in part to serve them targeted ads based on their behavior, interests, and location.

Users can decide if they want their behavioral information shared with apps.  We expect users to initially opt-out of IDFA tracking when iOS14 rolls out.

But then we expect that users will opt to turn on specific IDFA data, most specifically location data as many, many apps we use our devices for rely on that information.  Maps, Waze, Lyft, weather, fitness apps, InstaCart — they all use location data to function.

Post-rollout, rather than every app telling us the location of mobile devices, we will have that data come from a portion of apps.  Not a problem.  We only need one app sharing location information to be sure we are serving.

Campaign tactics NOT impacted by iOS14:

  • Geo-fencing
  • Conversion zones
  • Addressable geo-fencing
  • Household-targeting
  • Event targeting
  • Competitive conquesting via geo-fencing
  • Historical fencing/look-back data for paid social


The So-Called Death of the Cookie

This headline from Recode on March 3, 2021 pretty well sums it up, “Google is done with cookies, but that doesn’t mean it’s done tracking you”

The change that everyone is watching is specific to Chrome. Safari and Firefox no longer use cookies.  Chrome, owned by Google, will phase out cookies by 2022.  More specifically, the Chrome browser will no longer allow cookies that collect user behavior data.

Side note: According to Statista, Google Chrome is the most popular browser in the United States, followed by Safari, Microsoft Edge, and Firefox.

At their very core — and the reason they were invented decades ago — cookies are stored fragments of user data used to improve the browsing experience.

Have you ever browsed an eCommerce site, added potential purchases to your cart, and returned several hours or days later to see those items still in your cart?

That’s because of first-party cookies.

Third-party cookies are used by ad companies to track you as you go around the internet. They build a profile of you and your interests based on the sites you visit and use that information to determine what ads you see.

January Spring uses this data in partnership with our publishers today, with our site retargeting pixels for programmatic and social media.  Everybody uses cookies.

Cookies are not the only way to identify a user and their interests.  The technology we deploy on behalf of our partners leverages cross-device targeting.  That means what you do on one website or device, can carry over to your other devices. That’s how we focus on the person. If you’re into rock climbing, you’re into roc climbing whether or not you’re looking at site of your phone or watching streaming TV.

Keep in mind, we never capture personal identifying information in any of the tracking we do — we capture what you do, not who you are.

As we move away from cookies, every website and app will have its own identifier for users.  This means the technology used to buy, optimize and deliver ad campaigns is critical.  We know we have the right technology because it is looking at each of those individual identifiers and “stitching” together a profile of each user.

Publishers are in the sweet spot with this whole cookie thing.  You have rich, first-party data about your readers — they read and subscribe to your publications for this very reason.  You know their likes, interests, and other valuable information that makes you an important advertising channel.  With a partnership like ours, we’ll still be able to help you reach those same types of readers across all device types.

Remember, internet ads aren’t going away. We anticipate consumers would rather see ads related to their interests and restaurants in their cities rather than a business opening in another state.

For our partners, take a few minutes to listen to Ann on the Streets, Simpli.fi’s Training Podcast.  Ann recently touched on this subject and provided a good overview of what cookies are and how our industry has historically used that technology.

Regardless of when this change eventually happens, we feel confident we’re ready to move ahead and continue building, serving, and optimizing successful campaigns.