The cookie as a way of tracking activity and monetizing web users has obviously crumbled. Led by Apple’s move to Intelligent Tracking Prevention (ITP) in 2017, and followed by Google’s announcement that the Chrome browser will stop supporting cookies entirely in 2022, the ad tech industry is scrambling to determine what the future entails. While this shift presents a major change, it wasn’t unexpected: almost half of all traffic today has no cookies.

The ad tech world, as exemplified by the Lumascape, is glued together by cookies and we all need to be preparing. What should you look for in a partner as we go bravely into a world where new ways of looking at audiences and monetizing them are not just on the horizon, but here now?

  1. A partner who is helping to shape the conversation: The IAB’s Project Rearc is the global call-to-action for the entire digital supply chain to re-think and re-architect digital marketing in a way that balances consumer privacy and personalization. Any ad tech partner you consider should be participating in this initiative and on the IAB Tech Lab’s standard-setting committees. Having a seat at the table of the future of online advertising means you won’t be left out as new cookieless standards are developed and implemented.
  2. Deep connections throughout the ecosystem: It’s not about the buy or the sell-side. The cookieless future means that publishers need to be able to sell inventory with more than assumptions about users, while advertisers need to think more about context and probabilistic rather than deterministic data. There likely will be new and innovative ID solutions that will shape monetization for publishers and marketers alike. Look for partners who represent and connect with the breadth of the ecosystem from content creator to data provider to buyer.
  3. A realistic perspective on the cookie – and what it didn’t solve for: In its 26-year history, the cookie has been a somewhat inefficient and ineffective mode of measurement, yet many in the industry overlooked its flaws because it worked systematically. Look for partners who are excited that the move beyond it is a good thing for consumers and marketers. Getting back to true context and relying on first-party data will not be simple, but will likely yield better results for all.
  4. Understand that it is not about targeting, it’s about measurement: For too long we have bought into a world of microtargeting based on cookies that may have been highly inaccurate. In a world without cookies, partners should be focused on the measurement of actual results, not on ever more finite slices of an audience.
  5. Focus on first-party data to build audiences: The cookieless world is one where publishers use their first-party data to build and monetize audiences based on interest. Is your partner using machine learning to assist the complex process of deriving purchase intent based on millions of data points? Instead of third-party data, you will need to work with partners who can directly activate audiences derived by first-party data to deliver high performance.
  6. Mutual alignment on privacy: The movement away from cookies is both about their inefficiency and a growing desire for consumer privacy. It’s important that any partner you choose has a global consent framework that extends from GDPR to CCPA and is prepared to constantly evolve with privacy laws. Additionally, with the move towards first-party data, partners should work with and through consent management platforms to ensure data ownership and usage is never in question.

If you’re interested in learning more, check out our most recent webinar led by Quantcast CTO Peter Day – Quantcast INNOVATE: How to Thrive in the Post Cookie Era.