It’s time marketers acknowledged the imminence of cookieless era – Raab

By Felicia Nwosu

As the world heads to an unusual transition that will unleash a new era of targeting and measurement while waving goodbye to third party cookies from July to December this year, David Raab, the founder and CEO of Customer Data Platform Institute, a vendor-neutral organization that educates organizations about customer data management, has affirmed that it is time for marketers to acknowledge the imminent reality.

Stating this in an exclusive interview with MARKETING EDGE, he explained that Google’s recent kick off trial run of its new tracking protection feature in readiness to clamp down on website access to third party cookies by default, is an indication that it is finally serious about third-party cookie deprecation. What it portends, he said, is that Google will force marketers who have been ignoring it to pay attention by cultivating an agile mindset.

Raab noted that phasing out denotes that all ad spending, technologies, business processes, products and services powered by third-party cookies must be transitioned to alternatives, while emphasizing the need for businesses to make headway with sustainable operational processes in the cookie less era.

The CEO OF Data Institute therefore suggested some of the new targeting and measurement technologies, including alternative IDs that brands can leverage for a smooth transition to this new development.

He asserted that a smooth transition will be difficult, but also revealed that many companies have been testing alternative options which include:

Universal IDs and Device Graphs which he explained are similar to third party cookies but require users to voluntarily provide a personal identifier such as an email address or to agree to track their mobile device.

Look-alike Targeting: This is where advertisers provide lists of target customer and publishers find similar people within their own customer base, and this works best with Google, Meta, Amazon, and others because it has detailed information about large customer bases.

Data Clean Rooms: This enables companies to share data about customers without revealing a personal identifier.  But still, it usually requires the companies to have captured an identifier, but whether consent is needed to use the identifier in this way is unclear.

Google Chrome’s Privacy Sandbox: This is a collection of technologies.  The best known is one that keeps track of the topics found in content of websites a user has visited, but subject to much criticism because the topic lists are not always detailed enough, only some topics are exposed to marketers, and Google introduces some false information to better secure privacy.

The IAB Tech Lab’s Seller Defined Audiences (SDA): This is an initiative to provide audiences based on a defined set of topics; advertisers can specify the topics they want to target.

Contextual Targeting: Here, advertisers select publishers based on the topics they cover in their website; this may also extend to advertising on specific pages within a website, he added.

Raab, who affirmed that 2024 is a dynamic year, explained how professionals can leverage UID2 sand alternative IDs to harness successful targeting as the transition unfolds.

“UID2 is an open standard backed by The Trade Desk and made widely available.  It uses an email address as the base for another unique identifier that itself cannot be directly linked to an individual.  This enables companies that have acquired the email to identify shared customers without exposing the email.  Alternatives, which are generally similar but differ in details, include ID5 ID, LiveRamp RampID, Lotame Panorama ID, Prebid Shared ID, Yahoo Connect ID, Epsilon Core ID, and Neustar Fabrick ID,” he explained.

He further pointed out how brands can deepen confidence among consumers so that curiosity will be rewarded in the new programmatic landscape.

“The most important way to build trust is to explain how the customer’s data will be used and to allow opt-out from uses the customer dislikes. Some of this is mandated in laws such as California CCPA, which requires a ‘do not sell my data’ option. Many customers are willing to consent to data use if in return they receive concrete benefits such as coupons and discounts. Promising a “personalized advertising” without such benefits is not appealing to most consumers.”

Stating the role of programmatic in the era  of the new transition,  he said, “In the broad sense of automated media buying based on advertisers target audiences, programmatic will remain. In the narrower sense of buying ads that are targeted at specific, it will be much reduced as this targeting is limited to consumers who have consented to sharing their data for this purpose.”


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