How Will A Post-Cookie World Affect Programmatic Advertising?

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It’s a rumor that has taken on a life of its own, and for good reason.

Credible word got out that Google was considering blocking or limiting third-party cookies in Chrome. This could mean monumental change for programmatic, which relies on third-party cookies for targeting and measurement. While the question remains when, how, and to what extent Google will limit third-party cookies, the truth remains that consumers want more privacy and control of how their personal data is collected, used, and shared — and web browsers are responding to this pressure. Firefox’s Enhanced Tracking Protection (ETP) and Apple’s Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) in Safari have already set third-party cookie restrictions. Now Chrome is in the spotlight to make a move toward consumers’ calls for more privacy. But Chrome also has the largest market share — making the potential effects of such a change much more significant.

So, what would programmatic look like in a post-cookie world?

TripleLift’s leadership recently shared their insights on how the advertising industry will have to prepare and adjust to potential changes in Chrome. TripleLift CEO Eric Berry penned an Adexchanger column: “How Will Google’s Move To Restrict Third-Party Cookies Affect Publishers” and TripleLlift CSO Ari Lewine offered his take in an Adweekcolumn, “5 Ways Advertising Could Change If Chrome Blocks Third-Party Cookies.” Below, see highlights from their pieces.

Eric Berry’s Top 5 Predictions

1. Google, Facebook and Amazon, in particular, would benefit.

“Audience targeting of nearly any sort would only be available on these platforms. This ranges from sophisticated behavioral targeting, to retargeting and more mundane tracking like frequency capping. Marketers that have email data may only be able to activate on the big consumer platforms. And only these platforms would be able to perform post-view attribution of any sort. With trust in Facebook at rock bottom, and with trust in Google steadily declining, Amazon may be well-positioned to pick up material share, albeit at the expense of independent ad tech.”

2. Vendors may move to target knowable identifiers like IP address.

IP addresses “may be increasingly valuable as IPv6 grows in prominence it’s not at roughly 25%. While there are clear shortcomings with this sort of targeting, it is better than nothing – especially for simple measures like frequency caps.”

3. Publishers become vastly more important & ask users for additional data.

“Context grows significantly in prominence and may quickly develop into being the easiest channel for scaled programmatic activation. Publishers will also likely aggressively evaluate and monetize their own data. This includes email and demographic data.”

“Publishers may also potentially ask users for additional data, “based on a key like an email, for access to articles. It is possible a publisher coop could emerge, allowing publishers to share data based on IDs and monetize more effectively across the ecosystem using the data they’ve collected. The programmatic ecosystem may suffer, and there may be a move toward automated guaranteed or similar transaction types.”

4. Publishers could increasingly move their content behind paywalls.

“If publishers cannot monetize as they have previously, they could potentially move their content entirely behind paywalls or take a metered approach, leveraging tools such as Google’s Funding Choices or, potentially, Apple News. More publishers moving to a paywall, which historically has not been very viable, could potentially improve the appeal of Apple’s News subscription – which otherwise might be a fairly unattractive proposition – for both consumers and publishers.”

5. Google may allow the ecosystem to leverage anonymous identifiers through the Google Advertising platform.

“It is likely in Google’s interest to have an independent ad tech ecosystem, especially if Chrome’s changes might otherwise cause significant, potentially ‘anticompetitive,’ harm…. For example, exchange bidding could pass a hashed ID of the Google cookie to its partners and similarly make the same available on a server-to-server basis for various pixel calls. To the extent that Google is the only platform that makes this available, it would have the added benefit of effectively forcing everyone (except Amazon) into exchange bidding if they want user data, and thus into Google’s single auction. That said, Amazon is well situated to provide a similar, competitive service through its transparent ad marketplace product. These moves, combined with click post-backs and other mechanisms, could circumvent much of the cookie-blocking moves. This may be more wishful thinking than a likely outcome.”