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Post-Cookie World: How Does the Demise of the Cookie Affect Advertisers and Publishers?

In this article, vice president of digital at South China Morning Post, Ian Hocking (pictured below), sets out the potential impact that the much discussed (and somewhat controversial) termination of third-party cookies. By considering the affect the impending change will have on different parts of the industry, Hocking provides a picture of how a post-cookie landscape may look to advertisers and publishers.

The Chrome team within Google have announced a plan to block third-party cookies along with other privacy measures in a couple of years. This announcement comes amid a background of tightening privacy regulation around the world including the GDPR in Europe, the CCPA in the US and the PDPA in Thailand.

Chrome represents roughly 57% of all browser usage globally. Safari – which has already introduced similar measures with ITP2 – represents around 30%. In combination third-party cookies will be effectively blocked, along with it a number of common and important buying tools and practices in digital media.

What buying mechanisms will no longer work?

At the root of the issue is cross domain identity. Without third-party cookies and the suppression of fingerprinting techniques, it appears that all cross domain tracking will not work. In-turn multi-touch attribution will fail and so will the standard frequency capping techniques used today. Finally the application of third-party data (and even first-party data to third-party audiences) will become obsolete.

What about publishers?

Ian Hocking, VP digital, South China Morning Post

Publishers are also exposed to these changes. We typically use third-party cookies to build profiles, target users with data, measure loyalty and reading behaviours. However, they also have a considerable advantage in the direct relationship they hold with the user. Building insights and profiles on first-party cookies in combination with declared first-party data – such as polls, surveys and quizzes – over time building up persistent IDs such as an email address login. This is the route SCMP has been taking for the past 12 months with it’s CDP 1PlusX.

What is SCMP doing?

We will continue to build deeper relationships with our users and offer a single login solution allowing us to create a unified persistent ID across our domains and add this to our current first-party cookie and data profiles. We believe this is one of the most important topics for publishers in 2020 and will be taking an active role in developing and testing global ID solutions. We welcome any conversation with like-minded
individuals.

Post-cookie real time bidding (RTB)

My prediction is that DSPs will develop more sophisticated probabilistic frequency capping and crawlers to find context on publisher sites and this tech will become a point of differentiation for them. We will see a bifurcation of branding and performance display ad spend with a continued shift to video for the branding. Compliance issues will see some AdTech vendors fold or be consolidated into other parts of the ecosystem. For example, it’s hard to see how retargeting companies will survive. However, I do not see the end of RTB, just a change in the way buyers recognise value and attribute success.

What about the ID initiatives?

Since the announcement there has been a flutter of activity with more people looking to them for options. However, as of today, the answers have all lacked detail and are limited to specific geos. At this time there seems to be no legitimate option in Asia. Identity is undoubtedly the new battleground for digital media and anyone working in digital should be an active participant in these conversations.

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