Cookieless targeting: what’s it all about?

The end of third-party cookies is on its way. So, how can advertisers benefit from cookieless targeting?

Cookieless targeting is proving challenging for many companies.
Image: © Destrosvet / Adobe Stock

Google to discontinue third-party cookies in 2024

Google has been threatening to stop support for third-party cookies for some time now. After numerous postponements, it’s finally due to happen in mid-2024. Among other objectives, the discontinuation of third-party cookies is aimed at protecting the privacy of users and giving them more control over their personal data. However, advertisers are facing the challenge of finding alternative methods that are on a par with current cookie tracking. A recent study reveals that many of them aren’t yet prepared for a future without cookies.

Are advertisers heading for the cookiepocalypse unprepared?

How will digital advertising change in a world without cookies? The adtech company Ogury teamed up with IT market research firm International Data Corporation (IDC) to pose this and other questions to 1,000 managers on a global level. 70 percent comprised brand managers, while 30 percent represented media agencies from various parts of the world, including America, Europe, and the APAC region.

Surprisingly, only 60 percent of respondents are aware that a complete eradication of cookies and IDs is imminent – and that even though browsers such as Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari are already cookieless. Furthermore, only half of the surveyed agencies and brand representatives said that they were confident about addressing their target groups and scaling their advertising. They hope that new adtech partners will help them implement cookieless targeting methods.

41 percent of the surveyed media agencies and brand managers have only explored cookieless targeting to a minimal extent, if at all.

However, if they want to stay competitive, they would be wise to think about alternative technologies to cookies as soon as possible.

First-party data, semantic targeting, and contextual targeting as effective tracking alternatives

Collecting first-party data is one way of gaining valuable target group insights. Also known as first-party cookies, data shared by users in online stores and on websites can be used for personalization, sending customized offers, and improving the customer experience. Many brands are therefore increasingly incorporating retail media into their marketing strategy so they can be given access to user-level data by retailers. Another advantage is that first-party data delivers measurable performance – something that brands are absolutely reliant on.

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Contextual targeting is another cookieless targeting solution. With this method, AI technology is used to place ads next to a text containing predefined keywords. Semantic targeting takes contextual targeting even further. In contrast, it doesn’t just display ads based on certain keywords, but rather with regard to the main topics of a website as a whole. The semantic placement of ads ensures a broader understanding of the overall content, which increases brand safety, particularly in the case of keywords with more than one meaning.

Cookieless targeting: advertisers should turn to a mix of technologies

To achieve personalized targeting without cookies, brand managers and media agencies have no time to lose when it comes to exploring different alternatives. This is where external adtech companies can provide support, because they have experience working with cookieless technologies and can fill any knowledge gaps in this highly technical field.