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MBuzz: Advertising in a Cookie-less Age

March 13, 2023

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As privacy issues continue to be of importance to the public, understanding cookies and how advertisers should handle them has never been more important. Cookies are small text files used to identify individuals browsing the web that were originally invented to allow users shopping on e-commerce sites to store their items in a virtual shopping cart. Advertisers quickly began using this technology to get demographic, behavior, and purchase information from users' computers. This has led both governing bodies (FTC, EU) and major ad tech companies (Apple, Google) to create laws and shift their privacy policies in order to gain control of cookie use. In April 2021, Apple released iOS 14.5 which had major implications for advertisers as users now were given the option to opt in to app tracking instead of having to opt out. Apple’s change forced Google to announce that they will get rid of all third party cookies by the beginning of 2023. 


What this means:

All these privacy changes have major implications in the advertising world. Less third party cookies and users opting into tracking means a significant decrease in remarketing pools. The iOS shift led to a 75% drop in trackable users leading to limited targeting capabilities as behavior and demographic has become increasingly limited. Another major change to consider is the lack of measurement and attribution. The only real attribution model that exists is last touch attribution. Since tracking users across the web to understand their journey is no longer available, advertisers are having to become more creative in the ways that they target or get information directly from consumers, instead of taking it from them without their consent. Even though these changes happened in 2021, the advertising world is still seeing the effects of these changes and adapting to the new normal. There are several solutions that advertisers are using to combat privacy changes with the most dependable and reliable being the use of first party data. First party data is data that a company owns and that is consensually given by the consumer. This allows advertisers to target consumers as granularly as possible without infringing on privacy. As the world continues to venture away from cookies, first party data will become increasingly valuable. The platforms and vendors that own vast amounts of accurate and reliable first party data will see advertisers swarming to their platform. There are other, more creative ways advertisers are circumventing privacy changes, but first party data is the most reliable and consistent way to achieve results. 



As the world continues to strive for increased digital privacy, privacy laws will continue to become more strict and continue to limit advertisers.  Vendors and companies that hold large amounts of first party data (Amazon, Google) will benefit greatly as their advertising space will become increasingly valuable because of their targeting capabilities. The most reliable and safest way to advertise is to utilize first party data. Whether this means partnering with vendors that own it or running marketing campaigns that encourage a user to share their data, it is the only solution that allows for granular targeting in a privacy first way. Despite there being less crumbs to follow along the way, advertisers will continue to adapt and find ways to thrive as we venture into the cookie-less future.