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he decision is final: by 2022, the market will have to do without third-party cookies. In the wake of Apple, which has already increased its restrictions, Google will put an end to the use of third-party cookies on Chrome and, as a result, end individual tracking, which has become the source of debate on privacy.

This initiative comes amidst the increasing protection of personal data, as required by the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). Some browsers were already limiting the use of third-party cookies. But when Google’s browser, Chrome, which accounts for more than 60% of the market, decides to apply these restrictions as well, it changes everything!

This new revolution will reshape the online advertising market, both for advertisers and for web users.

But what is a third party cookie?

Cookies (or third party cookies) are placed in the browser of online user to track their visits and behavior, thus providing information on their interest for a category of products or services. This information is used by advertisers to target audiences interested in their products and to engage them at any time.

Impacts of the end of third-party cookies for advertisers and media

For both publishers and advertisers, the end of third-party cookies on web browsers raises several challenges:

  • For advertisers: decreased targeting capabilities but also reduced performance monitoring possibilities. It will be more difficult for advertisers to determine the return on investment of their ads.
  • For publishers: the weakening of KPIs, at least temporarily, will have a negative impact on the monetization of their inventory. 

What are the solutions available? Is this really the end of online targeting? What are the impacts for web users?

New targeting techniques

1. Unstable solutions 

This is not the end of online targeting, other tools and techniques are available. To overcome these changes, some are turning to different targeting solutions

  • Fingerprinting: a probability technique that aims to uniquely identify a user on a website by using the technical characteristics of their browser. For example: hardware, screen size or operating system. 

This information, if plentiful, can distinguish individuals from one another and track them similarly to cookies. This technique cannot be opposed by the mechanisms for managing or blocking cookies. 

  • Subdomain delegation: consists in delegating the management of a subdomain of a website to a third party. This third party will then be considered as a first party and will be able to place a cookie on the user’s terminal to avoid the limits that affect the use of “third-party” cookies. 
  • Local storage: Local web storage, or localStorage, is a technique for storing data in a web browser. Local web storage allows for continuous data recording, similar to cookies but with a much larger capacity, and without being considered (for the moment) as a third-party cookie. 

These 3 solutions are increasingly blocked by browsers as they are not very respectful of users’ privacy. Their chances of being accepted are therefore very low.

2. Up-and-coming solutions

  • First-party data

First-party data is data directly collected by advertisers and media. For example, it can be data willingly provided by online users when they fill out a form, but also behavioral data collected on a website or data related to subscriptions. 

In response to the unprecedented surge in threats on its ecosystem (RGPD, fraud, data leakage, increasing power of GAFAs, etc.), the media industry had already started to shift its focus on the value of first-party data. 

“Data is set to become more valuable than oil”- The Economist

While 96% of publishers and advertisers say they are now ready for a world without third-party cookies, most are still using less than half of their potential. It will take a lot of work and tools that don’t yet exist to close the gap. 

  • Universal advertising ID

The concept of Universal ID consists of an alias that would be available to all publishers. It would be anonymous, free and available through an open source API. It enables all players to share the same ID linked to a user. 

This is a long and costly project because universal IDs must be adopted by all players in the advertising network to be effective (SSP, DSP, DMP, etc.).

  • SSo “single sign on”

This authentication system allows a users to access apps and websites by only logging in once. The ambition of the different medias is to offer a shared login system using “single sign on” (a unique authentication that can be used on several websites). The shared data thus makes it possible to qualify the audiences and to ensure targeting of users logged in with an SSO.

For publishers, SSO offers two opportunities:

  • It removes some of the obstacles associated with creating an account. Having an SSO removes the need for the user to create an account on several websites. 
  • The use of an SSO allows to combine the collection of user data (who logged in) across all the websites that have implemented it. 
  • Google privacy sandbox

Cohort targeting, provided by Google Privacy Sandbox, enables you to target a group of users instead of a specific user with a personal ID. The use of audience cohorts will collectively target users with the same browsing history and similar interests. This ensures advertisers a targeting performance close to that of third-party cookies.

However, this method will also reinforce Google’s hold on the online advertising market, which goes against current trends. 

  • Contextual Targeting

The easiest way to target online users is to focus on the content and environment in which the ad is displayed. 

If a user is on a website about fishing, chances are that he/she is interested in fishing equipment… The ads for these products will then be displayed on the website. 

This is nothing more than going back to the first targeting methods in the early days of the Internet, which are after all those that still prevail in other media industries: print, movie advertising, billboards, etc. A user’s profile is defined by the place where he/she is when viewing the ad.    

The end of third-party cookies is an opportunity

Culture G is involved with publishers on a daily basis and is closely following this fundamental change in the market. But while many see a threat to publishers, Culture G sees opportunities. 

Currently, the limitations to the collection and use of online users’ data are extremely low. This data is available to all players (the “third parties”), without any meaningful compensation for the publishers (the first parties) who are at the root of the value chain. Whatever solutions are needed to overcome the end of third-party cookies, they will restore the central position of publisher data. The data they have will become increasingly valuable as it becomes rarer and better secured!

Given this context, Culture G has two main objectives: 

  • To assist you in the best possible way in the protection and use of your first party data.
  • Find the best way to monetize your inventory by taking advantage of this data.

If you have any questions about the impact of the end of third-party cookies on your website, please feel free to contact our team.