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Surviving Google’s Cookie Apocalypse

by | Nov 1, 2022

You can think of cookies as a file that a browser uses to be able to have identifiers or information about someone’s visit to a page. It’s a little piece of code used to provide insight about someone’s actions online.

These files are what we would call an identity because it is a piece of information that is used to expose private information about an individual, in correlation to their electronic device and how they choose to use it. There are various forms of identities, with cookies being just one kind; others include IP address, IDFA (Identification for Advertising), name, email, physical address, mobile phone number and geo-data.

There’s a lot of noise within the industry. As of publication of this blog, Google says they will allow cookies until last 2024. With all that confusion, we thought it would be helpful to share a base understanding of what’s going on.

We pass data through a bid stream which is a set template for passing information. The bid stream has many variables used in it and “actors”, we could call them, that play a role in targeting. The user and device information are the actors within the bid stream that seems to be changing now.

The current process we use with cookies now is called a cookie sync, in which the file is read, updated, and then shared with data partners. This actionable data has been used as an identification hub for a long time and since so many people use this information, new means of monetization needs to make an entrance.

In the last few years, Google has taken the reigns of consumer advertising which is because they own majority of the industry of third-party data, but now that privacy is at the forefront of concerns for consumers, there are possible lawsuits, regarding privacy concerns, that may take cookies to the grave.  On the other flip side, Google is also facing threats of 15 states attorneys general who intend to sue if cookies go away.

The talk of “no more cookies” or a “cookie-less future” may be a little fear mongering. Yes, everything is going to change but it’s not going to undertake all methods of advertising and leave everyone in the dust with no data.

You’re probably wondering why cookies matter so much or why Google keeps delaying their so-called “death” and that’s because in a world where cookies have been the main contributor to data supply, it may not be the smartest to shut them down immediately. There could also be a lot going on behind the scenes in terms of business operations with Google and how privacy complaints get ruled out in the future.

So, while we will expect signal loss in terms of data, we also will get to see growth regarding supplementing data, as well as efficiency in the industry. At the end of the day, businesses still want to target the right customer and consumers will more willingly accept advertising that is relevant to them. So, that means it’s time for innovation; and the goal is finding means of reaching the same substantial information, just better.  New processes are trickling out and there isn’t one steady idea which is probably a great thing considering we are witnessing what happens when the basket drops, and all our eggs were inside of it. The time to disperse our data dependence is upon us!

You’ve heard us say many times over that we think Publishers are in the best position possible going into this next wave of privacy and data usage.  Your content and your relationship with your readers are the reasons why.

Various solutions to new identifiers include going back to contextual data, first party data, probabilistic methods, as well as hashing emails… and that may not be the end as more solutions are being created and talked through.

This is an interesting, and not necessarily bad time, for advertisers. It’s acting as a reorganization period for how we store and supply companies with data while allowing for changes to help better security and efficiency.

It’s all about filtering out what cookies did for everyone and finding better working and secure ways of seeking out that data.

The cookie is indeed crumbling. The good news, though… there are other sweets in the pantry!

If you want to read more on this on-going soap opera that is Cookie Apocalypse, read some of our past blog posts.