What is the cookie apocalypse and why should you care?

In this article, we look at ways for publishers to live in the privacy conscious world.

What is the cookie apocalypse and why should you care?

With Firefox and Safari already phasing out third-party cookies, Google’s Chrome which is the world’s most used browser follows suit and has announced plans to make 3rd party cookies obsolete by 2022. Let us see how this impacts publishers and what measures can help tackle the challenge.

What are third-party cookies?

Third-party cookies are user identifiers set up by third-party Adtech vendors to capture cross-website user behavior, usually targeting ads. This is done via a script on the publisher’s site and has created a major business model for many digital publishers. A website may use the cookies to track every movement of the user on the web or buy from other websites and may contain information including the demographics, browsing history, location, etc.

How publishers use third-party cookies currently?

Publishers have used third-party cookies for a long time to learn about users and improve user experience on the platform and those heavily dependent on advertisements as revenue use third-party cookies to target their audience with relevant advertisements for better clicks.

What has changed now?

The need for privacy is more than ever and users are demanding greater privacy and transparency in how their data is used. Countries have legislation like GDPR and CCPA to govern the way data is used and giving its control back to users.

What will replace third-party cookies?

The answer has always been around. With third-party cookies out of the picture, First-party data become paramount to learn about the user and their interests. First-party data are user data collected by the website that the user directly provides for a better user experience. This data is limited to the platform visited and is not exploited for other advertising purposes.

Are publishers ready for this change?

INMA survey shows that over 70% of member publishers are still not equipped to handle a post third party cookie world

How can publishers tackle this?

Publishers are looking at multiple ways of finding alternative approaches to third-party cookies to learn about their users. There are few methods like universal IDs, contextual targeting coming up whose efficiency we need to wait and watch. Some strategies that publishers can use are

Logging platform:

Publishers can build a logging page for users to log into the platform and capture their interests through metrics like likes, bookmarks, etc.

Email newsletters:

Apart from bringing traffic to the website using newsletters, asking users to sign up for newsletters is one way to collect email addresses and first-party data of users to use for analytics and make informed decisions. Including surveys as part of emails can help capture more data with the user’s consent to improve the offerings.

Interest-based learning:

This is a promising approach to learn about users. Instead of targeting individuals and understanding their interests, learning about cohorts of users and their interests is a secure, reliant approach.

How can recsyslabs help publishers tackle this change?

recsyslabs has built an AI tool that uses on-device machine learning to personalize content based on user interests without the need for third-party data or other personally identifiable information. Using NU:BRIEF requires no prior technical knowledge and also supports seamless integration to the publisher’s existing tools. This removes the burden away from publishers to build new privacy tools or look for alternative ways to secure their users' privacy.

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Photo by Vyshnavi Bisani on Unsplash