Get Ready for Innovations in a Cookie-Less World

We Need a Cookie-Like Approach for Content Marketing and Native Advertising

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The majority of Madison Avenue's ad-tech stack has been built around the dated cookie-based approach. Yet cookies were never built for marketing and advertising; they were conceived to help web masters control session management.

Much of the pressure to reform in our industry has centered around third-party cookies. The use of third-party cookies could be significantly restricted, if not totally disallowed. First-party cookies are still in play and will be allowed, as of this point, which will essentially allow publishers to control site-side experiences, not just advertising.

In a world with third-party cookies banned, first-party cookie owners would have a large advantage, at least in the short to medium term. I assume that in the long term another cookie-like approach will be created to replace third-party cookies.

If you are a publisher on the ComScore Top 100, you've got a significant leg up, because you have so much traffic. The more traffic coming to your web properties, theoretically, the more you can use big data to help optimize the advertisements and experiences for consumers. We never thought portals would be popular again, but they stand to be large beneficiaries of this evolved ecosystem.

If your agency has deployed third-party ad serving systems, data-management platforms and advanced attribution systems, then it's time to start thinking beyond third-party cookies. Smart digital agencies are going beyond banners and buttons for digital communications architectures, and this has lessened our reliance on third-party cookies. But we cannot accurately measure the effectiveness until we have a cookie-like approach for content marketing and native advertising.

I expect an onslaught of innovation around the future state of cookies within the next three years. I've been calling for an evolved "ad server" which is more like a "content server" that can do the same types of measurement as third-party ad servers, but not limited to content in IAB-standard units. If I'm trying to justify my spend on a Buzzfeed content integration, for example, or a cool integration I recently did with Fark, what tools do I have to measure the effectiveness, not just standard survey-lift studies?

Browsers are becoming interesting in this new world. Two out of the top three browsers are owned by technology/media companies: Chrome and Internet Explorer. While Mozilla does not have a media business behind it, it is becoming increasingly active within the privacy conversation. Browsers are the dominant gateway to the web for the majority of us; they theoretically know everything we do, as they are the frame to our online journey. They will play a much more hands-on role, because there is just too much data and information to collect and benefit from, which will help the browsers contribute to the revenue of their respective organizations.

The next few years are going to be super interesting because of the technological evolution that will be forced upon the web. We know that there will be plenty of new businesses started in this new world of non-cookie-based approaches. Get ready for it.

Darren Herman is the Chief Digital Media Officer of The Media Kitchen and President of kbs+ Ventures, both part of New York based kirshenbaum bond senecal & partners. He blogs at and tweets at @dherman76.
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