Reports of the death of the cookie have been exaggerated, until now

News By: James CoulsonFeb 5, 2019

We’re witnessing the slow decline of the 3rd party cookie, but as nearly all desktop targeting and tracking relies on it, its disappearance will have some major repercussions. Planning for this cookieless world needs to start to happen now to make sure you are prepared.

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The death of the cookie is something that has been predicted in the industry for many years, but it's now looking like this prediction is starting to come true. Several factors are coming together to cause the ubiquity of the 3rd party cookie to whither:

  • Safari’s recent release of ITP 2.0 effectively shuts down tracking by a 3rd party, with Firefox definitely and Chrome rumoured to be following suit soon.
  • The general migration of web access from Desktop to Mobile, and an increasing proliferation of devices people use to go online.
  • Finally, the walls of the walled gardens getting higher, and restricting what data can be pulled out of them.

These three key factors mean that using cookies to target and track a user are increasingly unreliable, which is having huge repercussions on some of the underlying dependencies of the online advertising industry. Unless an advertiser actively manages a migration to a cookieless world, their ability to use their data, track their customers and monitor performance will start to crumble. 

The good news is that solutions are starting to appear in the marketplace. The walled gardens themselves provide persistent identifiers, but only to be used within their own walls and significantly limit the access an advertiser has to the raw data around this user level data. Facebook provides a highly limited view on this, but Google is beginning to give controlled access to this, but only via Google’s own querying tools, such as BigQuery and Ads Data Hub (ADH). 

Outside the walled gardens a number of identity solutions are popping up to act as a replacement of the beleaguered cookie in the open web. Solutions such as The IAB tech labs (of which Infectious Media is an active member of the working group), Liveramp Identify link, The Trade Desk unified ID, Advertising ID Consortium, Signal, ID5 all provide more persistent identifying alternative solutions, but none have yet reached a critical mass to assert market dominance. It’s unlikely that a single solution will win, and a combination of all the above will be needed. 

Identity solutions should be a key area of focus for Advertisers in 2019, as the current way of identifying your customers online is going to change. A strategy that moves away from the 3rd party cookie and incorporates the walled gardens, open web solutions and is mobile friendly is imperative.

James Coulson, Strategy Director, Infectious Media


This article is part of the IM programmatic trends 2019 series, read more here

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