Scale Marketing POV: Cookieless Solutions

by | Mar 25, 2022

Scale Marketing 2022 Cookieless Solutions POV

What is Happening?

Google announced in January 2020 that it will phase out third-party cookies from its Chrome browser within the next two years. This follows earlier moves from Mozilla Firefox and Apple Safari, which already prevent third-party cookie tracking. In Google’s original announcement, the demise of third-party cookies was set for January 2022. In recent months, Google has received large amounts of pushback from the industry and negative feedback on its own cookieless solutions. As a result, Google stated the removal of third-party cookies will be delayed until January 2024. 

*First-party cookies will not be affected, so publishers can still track their own users.

Cookie Refresher:


  • First Party Cookies – are stored by the domain (website) you are visiting directly. They allow website owners to collect analytics data, remember language settings, and perform other useful functions that help provide a good user experience.
  • Third Party Cookies – are created by domains other than the one you are visiting directly, hence the name third-party. They are used for cross-site tracking, retargeting and ad-serving.

Why is this happening?

Google wants to “fundamentally enhance” online privacy for hundreds of millions of web users. Today, third-party cookies are the backbone of digital advertising. They allow us to target consumers throughout the web via audience targeting or remarketing, to gather behavioral data on consumers, and to track the consumer’s journey across devices and sites.

However, as targeting and data collection get more advanced and consumer privacy becomes a much larger concern, Google wants to make third-party cookies “obsolete” and hopes to develop alternative standards to “sustain an ad-supported web” that may be less invasive.

What does this mean at a high level?

The result will be an end to current cookie-based targeting and measurement across the digital ecosystem—and the way many marketers are measuring performance today.  Third-party cookies are what allow marketers to target across digital channels. So, without them, we would have less advertising personalization, decreased ability to retarget, and reduced conversion insights. If third party cookies were to disappear right now, those impacted the most would be DSPs and other programmatic platforms that depend on third-party cookies to identify individuals across sites.

Scale Marketing and Programmatic:

The biggest thing affecting Scale Marketing is how the cookieless world will change the way that DSPs operate. Targeting, insights, and cross-device conversion attribution would all be very limited if the cookie were to disappear today.

Seeing how this change will severely disrupt the entire programmatic ecosystem, DSPs across the board have been working to make changes that ensure targeting and conversion attribution will still function similarly to that in the past. The industry continues to work to find new ways to enable targeting without tracking individual users across sites. The “how” will change, but the fundamentals of programmatic advertising will not.

A few solutions currently in the works:

  • Google’s “Privacy Sandbox” – Google wants to replace third-party cookies with 5 APIs for advertisers to use for targeting, measurement, and conversion attribution. Essentially, all user data remains in the browser on users’ devices and cannot be extracted, which ensures privacy. This is still in its infancy, however.

  • Cookie Replacement – DSPs and audience providers are working towards their own ID solutions to replace cookies. Essentially, your cookie profile is not what identifies you, it’s your ID number. Here are two examples of DSPs deploying their ID solutions:
  • Verizon’s Connect ID
    • Uses Verizon’s first-party data and their massive user base to scale
    • Fueled by deterministic data from 200 billion consent-based direct and diverse digital touchpoints across Verizon brands and partners
    • The ID graph can reach omnichannel consumers wherever they spend their time — mobile, connected TV, digital audio, digital-out-of-home, and more.
  • Viant Total Graph
    • Viant’s Patented Household ID
      • Allows marketers to target multiple connected devices within the same home, including TVs, smartphones, tablets, laptops, and smart speakers
    • Powered by numerous strategic supply and data integrations, large-scale DSP activity and activation across 1 billion known devices
    • Receives millions of deterministic identification events and billions of real-time signals that help create, authenticate and enrich Viant ID profiles
      • The offline data component is made up of real-world touchpoints, which are deterministically linked with addressable online identifiers to provide a people-based, omnichannel marketing approach
    • The data leveraged comes from every partner and publisher that Viant has worked with, a list that continues to grow
  • Authenticated Traffic Solution – essentially, users who “sign in” to a page or pass through some sort of authentication before viewing the content can be tracked without third-party cookies. Sites that have users authenticated or pass through a paywall will likely see success once Chrome goes cookieless. However, most sites do not do this, and long-tail sites would be in trouble as authentication requirements would erode their site visitor numbers.
  • Contextual vs. Behavioral targeting – a more conservative view is abandoning behavioral or audience targeting altogether, and targeting contextually or by content type instead.
    • Scale is actively testing multiple contextual partners and channels and measuring their success compared to behavioral targeting tactics. A few of these partners include DoubleVerify, AdvancedContextual, StackAdapt’s Custom segments and Page AI technology.

Scale’s approach into the Cookieless future: 

With more time on the clock, Scale Marketing will continue to evaluate DSPs and other tech partners based on each platform’s ability to navigate through this change and continue to offer precise targeting.

Diversification will be key. At Scale, we are not tied to one platform or partner, we will work with multiple DSPs and lean on their specific strengths in targeting, attribution and reporting to deliver the best outcomes for each of our clients.

As we continue to work towards a more privacy-focused and cookieless future, we will determine the appropriate tech mix for our clients. As we diversify our portfolio and understand that attribution will soon be limited, the adoption of an ad server is going to be a large part of the conversation and the solution for many.

Conclusion and Key Takeaways

  • Google is not trying to end an ad-supported internet, so they, as well as, other key industry leaders, will be offering alternatives that will give brands a way to buy and sell advertising inventory, although it may be focused on their individual walled gardens.
  • Diversification will be key. Brands’ first party data will have enormous value in the near future. first-party data isn’t scalable on its own. So the advertising solutions of the future will rely on multiple platforms, multiple people, and multiple sources of data that must come together to create a seamless mechanism for advertisers to leverage
  • With more time on the clock, testing will be imperative for advertisers. At Scale, we are working to find the best solution(s) unique to each client (i.e. DSPs, audiences, tactics etc.)
  • In the next year, determining if an ad server is right for your business or not will be a key conversation.

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