The cookie, a small file stored on the computer that tracks navigation to personalize the online experience, is an essential tool for brands communicating in the digital world. However, its use for advertising purposes is under threat. Within a few years, advertisers will probably no longer be able to base their communication strategies on service providers who mainly use the cookie as a targeting tool on the Internet.
For the past year, Apple with its Safari browser – widely used by iPhone and Mac owners – has been blocking access to third-party cookies (they were limited to a lifetime of 24 hours before). This is not without consequences when we know the rise of mobile uses and the market share that the brand occupies. The apple company thus proclaims itself as the data protector against the online advertising giant, Google. This position is questionable because the cookie concerns the web environment only, a universe in which Apple has little profit to make, unlike the world of smartphone applications. The fact remains that Mozilla (Firefox) has followed Apple’s lead since September 2019, restricting access to third-party cookies by default. At the same time, Google announced at the same time to test a similar default setting for the Chrome browser. This latest announcement is probably a small, controlled step for Google, but a big step towards the announced death of third-party advertising cookies for the industry as a whole.
According to many digital experts, cookies will no longer really be used for advertising purposes within 3 years. The number of cookies has already decreased with the introduction of the DPCR. Indeed, since its entry into force in May 2018, the changes in the modalities for obtaining the consent of the Internet user have somewhat reduced the deployment and monitoring overtime of cookies. The arrival of the e-Privacy law – currently being prepared by the European Union – should accelerate this phenomenon drastically. This new law should block third-party cookies by default and impose stricter consent requirements. Currently, the majority of sites consider consent validated when the user scrolls on the web page. On the other hand, state sites wait until the user has clicked on the “validated” button on the privacy banner before issuing a cookie for advertising purposes. In fine, advertisers are increasingly wary of the quality and legality of the lists of third-party cookies, made available to them behind the term “data”.
In a logged universe, the unique ID becomes a competitive advantage when it comes to selling an audience pool to an advertiser. The death of the cookie translates into a race for the single ID but implies significant investments that only the major players can make: Google, Facebook, Amazon, Apple, but also ID5, Orange or Carrefour for example on a French scale. The result is an increasingly limited number of players offering their services and/or technologies on the Digital Marketing market. Aware of this imminent danger, 200 French publishers, including SFR, Les Echos and Prisma Media, have combined their audience data to enhance their advertising space (Alliance Gravity). The data within a logged universe is obviously of much better quality, allowing tracking at the level of an individual, to analyze his or her interests and behavior over time. However, one only has to look at the audience pools Facebook has put us into (via the parameters of our account), to understand that most of the segments used for media buying are often abusively generic. The unique ID is therefore not the only solution to the communication needs of brands. The use of logged data must remain coupled with a fine analysis of the communication context used, i.e. the media inventory.
Several companies such as Grapeshot, Quarry & Captify are working specifically on the sophistication of contextual targeting. Their semantic analyses now make it possible to fine-tune an advertising message by choosing to display an ad based on the presence/absence of certain keywords. It is also possible to do this according to a request made on Leboncoin and eBay for example, this is advanced contextual targeting. Contextual information is becoming so valuable that Google decided in November 2019 to no longer share the content category of the auctions sent by its AdExchange to other DSPs on the market (e.g. Appnexus, TradeDesk), to offer an additional asset to its DV360 DSP. Contextual targeting solutions are already rich in possibilities. It is now up to the brands and their advisors to find the right balance between the at
Ultimately, the announced death of the cookie and the rise of the GAFA are therefore an opportunity for publishers and media buyers to combine off-line communication skills (great knowledge of the context) and on-line communication skills (great knowledge of behavior). Hybrid profiles with solid expertise in these two communication universes are very rare. The challenge for advertisers and their agencies lies in their ability to combine teams with experience in off-line communication with younger people trained directly in digital. In the marketing world, which evolves very quickly on a technical level, sharing knowledge within a company is a key to success. Moreover, the programmed death of advertising cookies is certainly an opportunity to reconcile the analytical dimension that is characteristic of digital with the historical creativity of advertising, which is often left behind in the data-driven world.