chocolate chip cookie

Identity Myths Debunked: What a Cookie-less World Means for Advertisers

Garrett McGrath

May 24, 2021 | 4 min read

With the demise of the third-party cookie on the horizon, the industry will need to adapt to a new identity model to effectively identify audiences – and soon. Marketers are understandably concerned about reaching audiences in a cookie-less world but understanding the situation and the solutions at hand will help ensure a smooth transition away from cookies. 

In the vacuum of a single, all-encompassing solution, certain myths are circulating, stoking buyers’ fears without pointing to the promise of a path forward. Let’s decipher fact from fiction and take a look at why digital advertising isn’t going anywhere.

What’s True: 

  • There will still be interest-based identity solutions
  • There will still be attribution
  • Digital advertising will still continue to grow 
  • CTV will be a major growth driver

What’s Not True:

  • Online advertising is going away
  • The independent web is over
  • Only walled gardens will survive 

A Realistic Look into the Future

While currently in flux, identity will find a path forward, likely through first-party, community-driven solutions. In the future, buyers won’t necessarily be creating their own audience segments, but will still be able to identify consumers through groups assembled for them with first-party data.

This will likely happen through open-source platforms such as Prebid, where Deal IDs and Auction Packages will play a role. We won’t lose interest-based identification, addressability, or attribution—it will just evolve. 

Overall, digital advertising still has much room to grow. With an increasing number of global consumers using smart and digital devices, the programmatic opportunity will be immense. As of January, nearly 60% of the global population can access the internet, equating to roughly 4.66 billion users, and digital ad spend will grow to nearly 390 billion by the end of this year according to Statista.

One of the major growth drivers of digital ad spend will be CTV: according to eMarketer, ad spending on addressable TV and OTT will see a 75% boost this year. With the ascent of CTV and OTT platforms, marketers are looking to create omnichannel campaigns across devices and screens to reach consumers where they are paying attention. 

Independent ad tech encourages innovation and better ROI

While independent ad tech will need to embrace collaboration to pioneer an identity solution, the walled gardens of Google, Facebook, and Amazon will not be playing overlords. A walled garden oligopoly eliminates competition, resulting in lower revenues for publishers, decreased ROI for marketers, and a compromised experience for users. No one wants that. In fact, these tech oligarchs don’t want that either, because that’s just painting a target on their back. To prevent this, major initiatives are taking place, from both the independent adtech world and Prebid to come together on an identity solution that rivals the black-box data of industry behemoths while giving buyers and sellers more transparency.

As the identity conversation continues to unfold, buyers deserve a seat at the table — and places like Prebid or W3C meetings are good places to start taking part in the conversation. These industry groups are finding constructive ways to prepare for the extinction of third-party cookies, from migrating segment creation to first-party identifiers to model buying anonymous groups. They’ll also be able to help shape the conversation to better serve brands.

Beyond that, investing in initiatives with vendors and sellers that are committed to open, transparent identity solutions will ensure buyers have agency and access to premium audiences in fair marketplaces.

Ultimately, while new identity models are under construction and the programmatic landscape is shifting, in the future, buyers will continue to be able to identify audiences, measure and profit off of programmatic campaigns — ideally, in an even more transparent, collaborative, and fair setting.

Contact Us